The food given to farm animals is generally known as livestock feed or simply, feed. Farm animals need feed for growth, repair of worn-out tissues, energy and the general well-being of the animals.
EFFECTS OF FEED SHORTAGE IN ANIMAL PRODUCTION
Feed shortage will lead to the following effects in animal production:
- It leads to low birth weight or loss of weight.
- It results in poor reproduction or delayed puberty or late maturity.
- Poor milk, meat and egg production is recorded, and this leads to drastic reduction in livestock production.
- Feed shortage can equally lead to high death rate of farm animals.
- It also leads to increased susceptibility to diseases.
- Generally, there is slow growth rate of livestock.
- Draft animals become weak and unable to work.
CLASSIFICATION OF LIVESTOCK FEED
Animal feed can be grouped into four main classes. These are:
- Basal/ Energy feed or carbohydrate concentrate.
- Protein concentrate.
- Mineral / Vitamins supplement.
a) Basal/Energy Feeds or Carbohydrate Concentrates
- A Basal / Energy concentrate is the feed that has crude fibre content less than 18%.
- Basal feed refers to feed that are very high in energy or a starchy food e.g. maize and cassava.
- It is high in carbohydrates or fats.
- It is low in protein.
- It is low in fibre.
- Basal feed is highly digestible.
- It is low in minerals.
b) Protein Concentrate
- Protein concentrate is also a type of feed that has crude fibre content less than 18%.
- Protein concentrate is high in protein.
- They are low in carbohydrates and fats.
- They are low in fibre.
- They are highly digestible.
- They are low in minerals.
c) Mineral / Vitamins Supplements
- They are required in small quantities in feed.
- They supplement basal and protein concentrates.
- They are low in energy.
- They are low in protein.
- They are low in fibre.
- They are high in vitamins and minerals.
- They are necessary for growth and development.
- They largely aid food digestion.
- They also aid resistance to diseases.
- They include minerals, vitamins and essential amino acids.
- Roughages are feeds that have crude fibre content more than 18%.
- They are high in fibre.
- They are low in digestible carbohydrate.
- They are low in protein.
- They have poor or low digestibility.
- Pasture plants such as grasses and legumes form the roughages.
- Roughages exist in different forms such as hay, straw, soilage and silage.
Hay and straw are referred to as dry roughages.
- Hay: Hay refers to the aerial part of a young and succulent grass or herbage cut and dried for feeding animals. It is a cheap source of food for ruminant animals during the dry season where green grasses are not easily available. Its nutritive value is higher than straw.
- Straw: Straw refers to the aerial part of grass or harvested crops cut and stored for future use. Straw is difficult to digest because the plants are cut after the crops have been harvested. The remains of the plant are then cut, dried and fed to farm animals during dry season. It serves just to keep the animal alive. Wet roughages are referred to as soilage and silage.
- Soilage: This refers to the process of cutting fresh or succulent grasses and legumes from the field and taking them to the animals in their pens. They have high moisture content and high nutrients. Soilage is also referred to as zero grazing because animals are not allowed to go out to feed on the grasses but the grasses are cut and sent to the animals in their pens.
- Silage: This refers to the preservation of green and succulent forage crops under anaerobic conditions.
Preparation of Silage
- Dig a pit to the size and depth required.
- Cut pasture species at the right stage of maturity, i.e ., before flowering.
- Chop the pasture into pieces.
- Wilt the cut and chopped lush (tender) pasture species by spreading them in the sun for about one day.
- Line the inside of the pit with palm fronds, banana leaves or cocoyam leaves.
- Load the chopped, mixed pasture into the pit in stages.
- Compress each layer by rolling heavy substances over it to expel much of the air which can cause spoilage.
- Sprinkle dilute mineral acid after each layer.
- Deposit other layers and compress the layer each time until the pit is full.
- Finally compress the heap.
- Spread polythene sheet or banana leaves over the heap to ward off water.
- Pack a heap of soil on top of the leaves / or polythene sheet.
- Provide shade over the heap.
- Leave to ferment with minimum of 2 – 4 weeks.
Method of Preparing Feed Ingredients
- Blood Meal: Collect fresh blood from the abattoir and allow it to clot in the open. Heat the blood to reduce the moisture content and kill the pathogens. After heating, the blood now in lumps is dried and crushed into powder.
- Fish Meal: Fish meal can be prepared in two major ways. These are: dry and wet processes.
- Dry Process: Collect fresh fish, sun-dry or smoke it to reduce the moisture content, then grind it into powder.
- Wet Process or Rendering: Collect the fish, heat it with steam, then dry it and crush into powder.
- Groundnut/Palm Kernel Cake: Collect the seeds of groundnut/palm kernel, crush and press to remove the oil. Then press the remnants with machines to form cakes, which are dried.
- Cotton-seed Meal: Collect cotton seeds, grind them and extract oil from the crushed seeds. Dry the residue or cake later.
- Bone Meal: Bone meal can be prepared in two ways. These are: dry and wet processes.
- Dry Process: Collect bones from the abattoir, dry and burn them, then, crush the burnt bones to the desired texture.
- Wet Process or Rendering: Collect bones from the abattoir, heat with steam, crush and dry the crushed bones.
- Maize/Guinea Corn: Remove grains from the cobs, dry them and crush or grind to desired texture. Feed ingredient can be prepared or processed for farm animals by making into mash and pellets while some have to be cooked before it can be fed to farm animals.