Complete Feed Block Technology - A Fruitful Innovation
Authors: Dr. Minu Singh, Dr Adhiti Bhanotra, Dr Anjila S.T. Kujur, Dr Abhishek Kumar Singh and Dr Sajad Ahmed Wani
In a country, like India, where the dairy animals are maintained mainly on crop residues, it is must to ensure that the ration provided to the dairy animals are complete in every sense, i.e. they are able to fulfill the balanced requirement of the animals. To obtain optimum production and to gain maximum benefits from dairy animals it is desirable that the animals are maintained in good health. And good health of animals is dependent on the quality of feed provided to them. All these questions are answered by an innovation called Complete Feed Block, which can help our farmers in balanced feeding of dairy animals and thereby, increasing milk production and profit incurred from dairy farming. Apart from being an economically viable technique, it has multiple advantages like easy transportation, cheaper storage, correcting multi-nutritional deficiency, easy handling and reduces feeding cost as locally available feed ingredients can be utilized. It can be stored for almost a year and therefore is helpful in seasons of fodder scarcity.
Complete feed block
Complete feed block (CFB) is comprised of forage, concentrate and other supplementary nutrients in desired proportion capable to fulfill nutrient requirements of animals. CBF is an intimate mixture of processed ingredients including roughage and concentrate parts designed to be the sole source of feed in compressed form. It may be square, circular or quadrangular depending on the type of dye used in the machine. Complete feed block technology is the latest development in the direction to exploit the potential of locally available animal feed resources besides using non-conventional feed resources in a better way that makes livestock farming an economically viable enterprise. Inclusion of tree leaves and locally available agro-industrial by-products in complete feeds reduces dependence on costly concentrates (Ganai et al.,2007). Feeding crop residues in block form proves beneficial for efficient utilization (Hozhabri and Singhal, 2006). Many livestock owners hardly follow any feeding standards as they are unable to scientifically compute a balanced ration for their animals, mainly due to lack of knowledge and also the means to do so. This results in poor utilization of feed resources and sub-optimal production from their animals. Complete feed block is a new concept in delivering nutrients as a complete balanced ration to dairy animals. Each feed block is a total ration for a cow or a buffalo for 24 hours and supplies all the nutrients, including micronutrients required by the animal.
Components of CFB
The ingredients of CFB can be divided into major and minor components. The major components are forage and concentrate, added in different ratios, depending upon the level of production while the minor component constitutes micronutrients and feed additives. The forage part is generally the crop residues such as wheat, ragi or paddy straw, sorghum stalk, sugarcane tops, maize stover. In hilly areas, even the non-conventional forages like forest grasses and tree leaves have been used in place of crop residues.
Proportion of components
The proportion of the straw and concentrate in the block varies with the type of animal to which it is to be fed. As a survival ration for use during natural calamities and disasters, the straw component could be very high. To meet the challenges during emergency situations, straw blocks have generally the following composition: 86 parts straw, 10 parts molasses, 2 parts mineral mixture, 1 part urea and 1 part salt, which could meet the maintenance requirement of the animals. The proportion of straw for animals yielding up to 5–10 kg milk per day, should be reduced to 60%, for 10–15 kg milk per day, up to 50% and for 15–20 kg milk per day, up to 40%.
Ingredients of the concentrate mixture
The ingredients of the concentrate mixture are: oil cakes/meals as protein source; molasses, grains, grain by-products as energy sources; and supplements such as bypass protein or bypass fat. Bypass nutrients can be added for the higher yielders to enhance the direct supply of amino acids and fatty acids to the host animal as concentrated protein and energy sources respectively. The third component provides strategic and catalytic supplements, such as micronutrients and other feed additives, for example vitamins, minerals, bentonite (binder), probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, immune-protective agents, antitoxins and herbal extracts, among others. The varied role of these components in the feed block is to increase the productive and reproductive efficiency of the animal, enhance its immuno-protective ability, reduce helminthic load and decrease ruminal methanogenesis.
The process of making feed blocks
The first step in the process of making straw based feed blocks is the grinding of concentrate ingredients, followed by their mixing and addition of the feed additives. This is then followed by mixing of these ingredients and straw in proper proportions along with addition of molasses in a specifically designed Total Mixture Ration mixer or manually, taking care that mixing is uniform and ingredients are not separated due to gravity. Finally, the weighed quantity of the mixed stuff is transferred into a hydraulic press and subjected to the preparation of blocks at 4000 psi in an automatic or manual feed blocking machine.
The making of feed block requires proper processing and can be manufactured on a large scale in a factory, using a hydraulic press. The process of densification causes physical attachment of the minute concentrate particulate matter to fibrous straw particles with the help of a binder, so much so that there is hardly any opportunity for the animal to select the feed components. This not only brings uniformity to the feed, but also increases the palatability of the straw based feeds and minimizes the feed wastage. The process of densification may also slightly improve the digestibility of straw, as each straw particle has the concentrate component attached to it through molasses, which may facilitate the cellulolytic microbes to grow faster and enhance fiber degrading activity in rumen.
Feeding of CFB to the dairy animals
The dairy animals should be introduced with CFB gradually. In the beginning, the CFB should be given in small pieces and in small amount. Slowly increase the quantity. After, around 15 days when the animals adapt to CFB, the block can be given intact.
Advantages of Complete feed block technology:
§ It has the potential to fulfill the nutrient requirements of animals.
§ By this technology we can exploit locally available animal feed resources to overcome the deficit of feed/fodder.
§ The preparation of a feed block offers scope for incorporation of tree leaves/shrubs in routine diets besides the potentiality to protect loss of feed ingredients during sneezing.
§ It makes the quality feed available year round and is cost-effective.
§ It is cheaper in storage and transportation of bulky roughage sources and also time and labour saving.
§ It gives added advantage of correcting multi-nutrient deficiencies in animals.
§ It enhances utilization of poor quality of roughages and improves the palatability of unconventional feeds and also reduces feed wastage as the animal is unable to do selective feeding.
§ Transportation of complete feed block to deficit region or areas of natural calamities is cost effective.
§ It facilitates management; allow full mechanization and more flexibility for inclusion of a wide range of alternative feeds.
§ Feeding of complete feed block results in low methane emission from animals.
§ Improved productive and reproductive performance.
Economic benefits to farmers
Feeding of CCFB to buffaloes resulted in a significantly (P < 0.05) higher intake of DM and digestible DM and in turn in the intake of all other nutrients. Though, daily nitrogen retention was not affected, the feeding of CCFB diet resulted in higher (P < 0.05) retention of calcium and phosphorus. Thus, CCFB would be a balanced wholesome diet for ruminants (Verma, et al., 1996). The study based on the milk yield of cows and feed cost observations made in the field on feeding feed blocks to cows show that the farmers accrued an additional income of US$75 over the conventional feeding (Walli, 2009). In addition to the direct monitory benefit that the block feeding gives, it also offers other benefits to the farmer for example early calving and regularity in calving, reduction in feed wastage and saving on labour and time required for feeding and cleaning of mangers. There is also saving on purchase of medicines and treatment of animals, as the animal generally maintains better health (Walli, et al., 2012).
Complete feed block is a boon for the dairy farmers. Apart from being a complete pack of balanced diet for the dairy animals, it has the potential to relieve the farmers at the time of fodder scarcity. Also it is labour saving, time saving; facilitate easy handling and easy transport. Besides monetary benefits, it also helps in saving the money on purchase of medicines and treatment of animals; it also assists in early calving and regularity in calving. Feed wastage and selective feeding by the animals is also set aside. Being an economical technology it can be adopted by farmers, the dairy cooperatives can use this technology for producing Complete Feed Blocks in a large scale, there by further reducing the cost of production of feed blocks.
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About Author / Additional Info:
I am pursuing PhD in Dairy Extension Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001 Haryana (India). I have completed my Master's degree from ICAR-NDRI, Karnal and Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from Ranchi Veterinary College, BAU, Ranchi, Jharkhand. Being an Extension Personnel I am interested in disseminating the helpful farming technologies to the farming community for their betterment and also for the advancement of agriculture and allied sectors.