Good feeding throughout the year
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CTA. 2006. Good feeding throughout the year. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57182
Choosing grazing sites, growing forage crops, use of supplements, storing feed as hay and silage, and feeding of housed goats.
Good feeding throughout the year Cue: Providing good feed is the most important aspect in rearing healthy, productive goats. Whether farmers take their goats to graze freely, or keep them tethered or in a stall, giving goats access to a sufficient quantity of the right type of food is essential. A farmer should also aim to maintain a constant level of feeding throughout the year. However, during dry months grasses and shrubs become scarce; if farmers are to keep up the supply of feed they will need to have some strategies in place, such as storing feed as hay or silage. Growing forage crops, or supplementing the diet of their animals with energy, protein or mineral feeds, sometimes available from agro-industries, are other ways of maintaining a good level of feeding. But any strategy to improve feeding will only prove worthwhile if farmers are able to get sufficient financial benefits from their better fed animals. Studying the costs and benefits of their feeding methods, known as a cost-benefit analysis, is therefore very important. Jonathan Ndi is an animal nutrition scientist, and Director of the Technical School of Agriculture in Cameroon. He spoke to Martha Chindong about how farmers can ensure good feeding of their goats. Martha began by asking how a farmer should choose the right area to graze their goat flock. IN: ?What guides the farmer predominantly ? OUT: ? are preserved for adverse seasons.? DUR?N 5?48? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Jonathan Ndi, an animal nutrition scientist, with advice on how to ensure good feeding of goats throughout the year. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Ndi What guides the farmer predominantly is experience. One of the most basic things a goat farmer has to master to his finger tips is the species, the forage species that will be good for his goats to feed upon. If you have a flock size of about 50 goats and you have to lead them to an area for grazing it is important that you first of all go down to the field, survey the area and be sure that it is a good area, it has the required forage species in abundance. Chindong What if the farmer has to grow his or her own forage, is it worth the trouble? Ndi Depending upon the size of the flock. I don?t think a farmer with three or four goats will have to open a forage plot but if you have a larger flock size it is advisable for you to open a forage plot because when you do this you conserve the energy that is used by the goats to go down to the field. This energy is conserved and used for growth and production. So it is of utmost importance to conserve the energy, if you can and if the cost benefit analysis is positive. Chindong Should we, or should farmers supplement the feed they goats with energy giving food? What types of supplements are good for the goats? Ndi Actually it is important to supplement the feeds especially with minerals and when I talk of minerals, calcium is very important in this case. Chindong I used to see farmers give salt. Why this salt? Ndi Salt has another effect of improving upon the immune system, it boosts up the immunity of the goats. Chindong Now goats, tethered or free grazing goats, they look for their food. In stall goats you are forced to feed them. Is it really easy to confine ruminants? Ndi It is not only easy but it is advisable to confine your goats because, one, they are not land intensive. They don?t need a very large area to keep a large number of goats. Unlike cattle, unlike other species, unlike even crop farming, on a very little area you can keep a large number of goats. Secondly, you will conserve a lot of energy. Instead of moving up and down from looking for clean water, looking for good forage species, they are kept on the spot and then the grass is fed under the confinement. Chindong What type of feed is advisable for them? Ndi There are common grass species that are good for goat feeding. There are the grasses like the elephant grass, like the Kikuyu grass, like Guatemala, like Bracheria. There are leguminous species. With the leguminous species they are not only rich in fibre they are also rich in energy and they are rich in protein. If you are preparing for the scarce seasons like the dry seasons when the grass species are scarce you can now process this into hay, you can make them into silage, which is a whole procedure on its own, which is very good for feeding of goats. Chindong I used to see some tie in small bundles, is it to avoid competition who would take much of it? Ndi Well that is just to ensure even distribution, just to avoid trampling of bigger animals on smaller animals, to avoid congestion. So many animals feeding on one feeding trough and this usually disadvantages the smaller and the weaker ones. So when this placing in little heaps is done, the weaker ones surely go to one area, the bigger ones in one area and then there is some evenness in the feeding. Chindong Is supplementing feed for goats in general cost effective? Ndi That is what has to be evaluated very carefully. It is important that in the management of livestock in general, before indulging in any cost item it is important to evaluate the benefit that will come out of that cost item and to ensure that the benefit will either outweigh the cost or will just break even. Because modern farming is profitable farming, it is market oriented. You are producing these goods for the market. It will not be worth the struggle if the cost of production will be higher than what you are going to get from the market. Chindong There is one problem with this goat keeping, they are ruminants and there are periods of the year that there is no grass. In such a case can they depend only on these supplements? Ndi Not at all. As ruminants they need the grasses, they need these grasses because they are capable of converting them into the other nutrients that the body needs. So in those areas I would strongly advise that they should go into those techniques of preservation. They should go into hay making. They should go into silage making. Those are the two common forms in which our forage species are preserved for adverse seasons. End of track.