Green fodder holds an important place as a feed for the milch animals because it provides nutrients necessary for health maintenance and milk production.
Producing green fodder is considered a better option than buying an alternative in order to feed animals, primarily for sheep, goat farmers and dairy farmers. Farmers also grow and cultivate green fodder with the sole aim of selling it in the market just like any other crop.
Some varieties of grasses can also be chopped into smaller pieces by using a simple chaff cutting machine. These pieces can be stored for a long time and used as fodder during drought or similar situations. Green fodder can be either cultivated using the right hybrid perennial variety in open fields or grown using a hydroponic system.
Reasons for growing green fodder:
- It helps in reducing the cost of feed.
- Production time is significantly less.
- It can be used for a long time as most types of green fodder are perennial.
- It is a natural way of providing nutrients to the animals.
- It can be converted into silage for future use.
Types of Green Fodder
Fodder maize can be cultivated at any time of the year with proper irrigation. Also, it is considered tasty and soft for animals. But its stem is usually thick, so it should be chopped before feeding. Cultivation of maize fodder should be done in less than 90 days. Otherwise, its quality will decrease. A single crop can provide around 20 tons of fodder per acre. It is the best choice for dairy animals as it improves milk yield. African tall is a famous variety of fodder maize. It can grow up to the height of 8 to 10 feet. To grow African tall, the field should be thoroughly ploughed with enough organic manure. Sow seeds in the rows after that. Twenty-five kilograms of seeds are required for one acre of land. All the seeds should have an inter-row spacing of precisely 1 foot.
There are many varieties of fodder grass that give a high yield and are of good quality. Most types of fodder grasses are rain-fed crops. Also, irrigation is needed for higher and constant fodder yield. Fodder grasses can be stored as silage during the rainy season when available in surplus. Although silage has many benefits, farmers still prefer to use fresh fodder to feed dairy animals. In order to identify the best quality of fodder grass, make sure that there are fewer hairs and it is without bumps. Leaves should be broad, and the stem portion should be small. Try to harvest it within the right time, or it can become coarse. Damaging substances like oxalic acid should not be present. Once it is planted properly, it can provide a good yield for 3 to 4 years.
A large number of leaves are present on the Hybrid Napier grass. Therefore, it is considered the best fodder crop for cattle consumption. This type of plant is strong and can be easily grown in most kinds of soil. Propagation can be conducted by planting slips. Around 40,000 slips are required for a hectare. After planting, it will take about 45 days to grow and become ready for harvest. It contains approximately 8 to 11 percent crude protein.
Guinea grass doesn’t require much sunlight. They can grow properly even beneath partial shades of plantations. It has three wide varieties. The most popular one is Guinea Hemil. This variety helps in improving the milk yield of dairy animals. As compared to others, Guinea grass is smaller in size. However, it yields around 30 tons of fodder per acre in a year. It is the favourite meal of sheep and goats. To grow Guinea grass, about 5 to 6 kilograms of seed is required for one acre of field. Also, this can be multiplied by root slips. Sow the seeds in the seedbeds and plant seedlings that have passed 25 days in the main field. You can sow them directly as well if you want to. Guinea grass can be given without chopping as the leaf portion is more than the stem.
Cowpea is a quick-growing crop that requires a warm summer climate to develop. It can be grown in all kinds of soils. This type of fodder crop is mainly required for grazing, haymaking and green feeding. Cowpea can be used for both purposes. Its mature green pods can be consumed by humans, and the remaining fodder can be used to feed cattle. Feeding Cowpea can help produce a milk yield of 6-7 kg per day without the need for any supplements. Its freshly cultivated leaves contain 18.0% crude protein, 26.7% crude fibre and 3% ether extract. Consuming newly cultivated Cowpea can provide up to 59% total digestible nutrients and 58% mature fodder. It also contains 1.40% calcium and 0.35% phosphorus.
Green fodder has multiple varieties that are grown for various purposes. Considering that you want to grow green fodder, it is essential to understand why you are growing green fodder and what type suits you best. So if you want to learn more about harvesting green fodder, you can visit apnikheti.com. Also, to get all the information regarding green fodder and farming, including seeds, crops, pesticides, market prices, industry trends, innovative agriculture methods, latest farming tools, equipment, etc., at your fingertips, download the Apni Kheti app now.