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  • Writer's pictureDr. P.K. Shrivastava


Compiled by Dr PK Shrivastava, Dairy Business Consultant; M/s dairy Consultancy, Bangalore-99; Ph-+918073147467

Refer our previous articles:

(1) “Feeding management of Dairy Cattle -Part 1

(2) Feeding management of Dairy Cattle-Part-2

We have covered the following topics in this article:

(A) Introduction

(B) Parts of Ration (forage, cattle feed (CF), mineral mixture, feed additives, etc.)

(C) Cultivation & preservation of forage

(D) Manufacturing of cattle feed (CF) & mineral Mixture at Farm

(E) Formulating ration for calves, heifers, adult cows, pregnant cows:


India is struggling for a long time to improve per animal milk yield and quality of milk to meet the export requirement. Due to quality issues, the consumers liking is increasing towards farm fresh milk. The animal productivity depends on (1) providing required energy feed to animal (2) reduce stress conditions for animal (3) better germplasm of the animal. We are discussing (1) here.

As we know the feeding alone contributes about 70% of the recurring cost of the farm, therefore, it is essential to keep the cost of milk production low. As such, we need to be very calculative while planning for feeding to the farm animals.

Presently (year 2020), the projected requirement for dry fodder 530 million tons (MT), green fodder 880 MT and that of concentrate is 96 MT. The projections made in the same report for deficits in the year 2020 for dry fodder 23%, green fodder 32% and of CF 36% (actually reduced compared to the report of working group for 10th Five Year Plan indicated a deficit of about 62 per cent in green fodder, 22 per cent in dry fodder and 64 per cent in concentrates (2002-07). However, working group committee indicated this as a challenge to develop mechanism to maintain the supply of adequate fodder and quality CF feed at reasonable prices to the cattle owners. (Balaraman, 2005).

The projections provided by NIANP (ICAR) Bangalore (see Figure 1), shows that the deficit from required quantity to available quantity (gaps) has actually reduced in 2020 than the projections made by the committee in 2005. We hope that due to the Govt intervention and support these deficit projections (gaps) made by “The Standing Committee on Agriculture (2017-18)”, NIANP (ICAR) would further reduce in years to come.

As per the estimates of the NIANP (ICAR) Bangalore, the deficit in the requirement and the availability of dry fodder, green fodder and concentrates during 2015 was to the extent of 21 per cent, 26 per cent, and 34 per cent, respectively. This is likely to increase to 21 per cent, 40 per cent, and 38 per cent, respectively, by 2025. (See Figure 1).


Figure 1: Showing estimates on feed and fodder in India

We know that the cost of green and dry fodder is much lesser compared to the concentrates (CF). The green fodder could be cultivated only when irrigated land is available. Further, the per capita land availability is reducing year by year. Somehow, dry fodder need could be fulfilled by the stems of cereal crops, tree leaves, etc. The scene of shortage of storage facilities for grains, spoiling millions of tons of food grains is heard every year. Good that these 2nd grade grains are used for CF production, however, the trade of these 2nd grade grains in the market is highly un-organized.

As shortage estimate are being projected by several expert committees constituted by the Govt, it is high time that the Govt support must focus on fodder & cereal production and preservation to address the animal productivity.


Ration has 5 components;

(a) Green Fodder (leguminous or non-leguminous)

(b) Dry Fodder (stems of cereals, fodder tree leaves, left over vegetables, etc.)

(c) Concentrate (CF) (proportionate mixture of cereals, brans, oil-cakes, salt & minerals)

(d) Mineral Mixture (proportionate composition of minerals and salts)

(e) Food additives (fortifying vitamins, minerals preparations, etc.)

(Drinking water supply round the clock)

For details on “Ration”, pl refer our article on “Feeding management of Dairy Cattle Part -2”, Published on June 15, 2021.


(a) Soiling

(b) Ensiling,

(c) Pasturing,

(d) Hay feeding.

(a) Soiling:

Growing of green crops, harvesting them in green stage and bringing it to the stock for feeding is called soiling

(b) Ensiling:

The green fodders when harvested at right stage and stored in compressed condition so as to expel the air out and then sealing up with a covering to prevent the contact with fresh air, in order to preserve it with minimum loss of nutrients by fermentation for use as a succulent fodder during scarcity is called silage.

(a) Jowar (Sorghum vulgar Pers)

(b) Maize (Zea mays L.)

(c) M.P. Chary {Sorghum bicolor)

(d) Oat (Avena sativa L.)

(e) Bajra (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br.)


Leguminous crops like Lucerne, berseem etc. are not suitable crops for ensiling but silage can be prepared even with such crop provided these crops have been wilted to limit the moisture content and some additives as a source of carbohydrates are added. (Kashyap and Prasad, 1980).

(c) Pasturing:

Pasturage is the term used to denote grazing land for animals. Herbage sown & grown on the land meant for grazing animals is called pasture. The use of a good pasture in the feed program is important, particularly for ruminants. It is the cheapest source of fodder and requires least labor.

Pasture facility in India is very meager and there are very few cultivated (sown) pastures, hence proper attention must be paid to the development of grass land the village panchayat to develop pasture land for animals on common land available in the village. It provides all nutrients necessary for growth and milk production. One has to be alert to keep the pasture clean from possible infestation of parasites and diseased animals passing infection to the healthy animals, etc.

Pasture helps for high yielding animals:

More milk yield of good quality fat & SNF may be achieved by pasturing (grazing). Generally, when the pasture growth is more and quality of grass is high at 6-8 inch. It is most economical for farms to save on feed supplement (concentrates). Low and medium yielding animals can be reared only on pasture. Factors like grazing time and quality of pasture decides the amount feeding during grazing & the final milk yield. Best result is possible only with sown pastures with controlled grazing practice (keeping pasture clean, dividing pasture land into plots for continuous grass availability, etc.). The rain fed areas in the country can do it very easily.

High yielding cows have a stronger hunger drive than low yielding cows, and consequently graze for longer time and have high biting rates. However, the major factor influencing pasture intake is the amount of herbage intake per bit, or the bite mass. Bite mass can be controlled by a better management of pasture.

Advantages of Good Pasturing:

(a) Less labor & care need, less cost on soil preparation, less need of fertilizer, prevent soil erosion, most economical and natural way of feeding.

(b) Animal gets benefit of exposure of sunlight, no need for animal to do extra exercise, improves growth of young animals and reduces nutritional deficiency diseases.

(d)Hay making:

Hay is a dry fodder, green in color containing moisture not more than 18 per cent. It is leafy, clean, soft, palatable, nutritious and liked by animals. The following are the types of hay.

I. Legume Hay

1. Provides relatively higher amounts of TDN, better quality & higher content of DCP.

2. Contains more of carotene. Vitamins A, D, E and more calcium & sufficient phosphorus.

3. More palatable and has desirable effect on increasing milk yield.

4. Crops of legume hay prevent soil erosion.

II. Non-Legume Hay:

Compared to legume hay, these are less palatable and provide less of minerals and vitamins. The loss of nutrients in non-legume hay is less.

III. Mixed Hay:

Nutritive quality and palatability of this type of hay depends upon the types of hay crops mixed grown together. Usually, they consist of mixture of legume and non-legume hay and as such the quality may be expected slightly better than that of non-legume hay alone.

Qualities of Good Hay:

Leafy, palatable, free from undesirable weeds, green in color, free from mold, free from dust and soil, properly cured and nutritive.

Loss of Nutrients in Hay Making: Curing Hay:

It is the process of drying the hay crops to such a moisture content, which stops respiration by plant cells, bacterial and chemical action without significant change in aroma, flavor and nutritive quality of forage.

Limitations of Hay Making in India:

(1) Lack of fodder availability, (2) when plenty of grass is available in rainy season, (3) the weather is not suitable for drying, (4) farmers grow more cash crops than forages and (5) economic condition of farmer is poor. He cannot afford to spend for artificial modern techniques of hay drying.


By manufacturing CF at farm, one can reduce its cost up to 40% (depends on seasonal procurement & stocking of raw materials) compared to the branded CF. It could be manufactured at farm by installing a CF plant (mixer, grinder and pallet machine). The plant is available in farm-suitable sizes like 200 Kg, 500 Kg, 1000 Kg, 2000 Kg per hour and so on. The raw materials and finished good stores to be constructed at the farm. The major raw materials are 2nd grade cereals, brans and oil-cakes, which could be procured from grain mandies, rice mills, flour mills, beverage factories, etc. Molasses is used as sweetener and binding agent for CF. After using the CF for own consumption, balance could be sold to the nearby farms.

Similarly, as per the BIS formula, the mineral mixture could be manufactured at farm and stocked for daily used. The effect of farm manufactured CF and mineral mixture is generally found much better, compared to the branded CF & mineral mixtures available in the market.


Please do not rely on the CF formulae, being highlighted by various farm owners on U-tube, as it is dangerous to feed at-random formula CF to the farm animals. Like high protein (25-30% protein) formula shown by some farm owners on U-tube should be avoided for dairy cattle. Always consult a technical consultant for arriving at the farm specific CF formula for the available raw material (rather than hunt for specific materials and increase the cost) at the farm at that particular time/season. It is important to calculate the CP, DCP, TDN and energy for the raw material and finished good, manufactured from available raw materials.

It is the malpractice in CF/ faulty feeding practice, which is not allowing animals to keep good health (suffering with various diseases, acidosis being very common) or maintain steady/ rising milk yield for more lactation (generally they start reducing their productivity after 3rd - 4th lactation- steep down, which generally should come after 6-7th lactation). This “steep-down” syndrome is more observed in the HF / Jersey crosses, which are reared at urban locations (compared to the villages), where imbalanced feeding & pathetic condition of animal sheds are observed more.

Always remember, cows and buffaloes need more fiber compared to concentrate (pl refer Figure 3). They can’t be reared on biscuits/bananas/jaggery/bread/poori/halwa/dry fruits, etc., which is generally fed by cow worshipers at Gaushalas on the occasion of festivals in towns and cities of India. Govt should ban these practices and Gaushala authority should not allow it to happen. It is not the fault of animals, if the farm owner / Gaushala’s do not have fodder for feeding. Before bringing the animals, they must arrange for the fodder first. With this reason, we refuse preparing DPRs for farm owners, who does not have sufficient land to establish the farm and grow fodder.


In India most of the farms are managed by contract labor (who generally come from eastern part of India), as it is brown color job and also entrepreneurs want “someone else can manage their business”, they should only supervise and eat benefits. I am not aware of any business, which gives profit if managed by other person. The owner has to be involved into the business. Strategy and actions should be decided by the management not the labor. These group of laborers boast that they will manage the farm. They do not have any technical experience/ education/ training. This strategy piles-up losses. One should avoid.

The ration varies from group-to-group, animal-to-animal, breed-to-breed, place-to-place. Now a days animals are reared not on “requirement of animals”, but on “availability of forage & concentrate”. Most of the farms (especially urban) are short of green fodder, they believe that the

shortage in green fodder could be fulfilled by the concentrate. With this theme they increase their concentrate & thereby the cost of production and animal suffers with “ACIDOSIS”, reduces milk yield, owner further pumps the concentrate to animals’ diet, animal start diarrhea (losing what they are eating), owner runs to doctor, he prescribes medicines, nothing helps. REMEMBER COWS AND BUFFALOES ARE RUMINANTS, THEY NEED MORE FORAGE. This wrong concept spoils the animal and finally the animal is sold for no reason at lower cost, giving heavy losses to the farm.


The feed (concentrate) should contain all the required ingredients of food (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, major and trace minerals, vitamins and other essential elements). Refer BIS standards for CF formulation. Once a ration contains all the above elements of nutrients in required proportions, form and quantity, it is called a “balanced cattle feed”. In general terms “ration” means mixture of roughage and concentrates. The ration provided to animal in a day is called the “daily ration”.

QUALITY OF RATION FOR DAIRY ANIMALS: (for details, pl refer our article part-2, published on 15th June 2021)

TYPES OF RATIONS FOR ADULT DAIRY ANIMALS: (for details, pl refer our article part-2, published on 15th June 2021)


Feeding of various groups of animals with specific ration is essential. Generally, we observe that same ration is fed to all the groups of animals, only the quantity varies. Even the animals are not housed in different groups (need is not felt). Thanks to the insurance company, that most of the insured animals bear identification tags. If it was not a compulsion, the animals would have been reared with their names (as was in ancient time), known to the owner and animal only. Let us not talk about milk recording of individual farm animals, that is Hebrew for the animal keepers in India. With these data gaps, the animals, owners and purchasers all suffer.

Figure-2: Showing thumb-rule based feeding quantities for various groups of animals

Animal suffer with ill health, owner suffer the loss in milk production, owner invariably tell lie about the animal and sale it, while the purchaser suffers a great loss, when the animal does not perform to the level, he thought it will. Barring some farms, animal feeding, milk production and sale & purchases process in India are done on approximation/ hunches, without any confirmative data.

While formulating ration, several factors are to be kept in mind, however, we have presented a table (see Figure 2) based on thumb-rule for feeding for various groups of animals (corrections are solicited), which might be of some help to the animal keepers. (For details of DMI based feeding, refer our article “Ready recon-er for feeding cross-breed” published on Sept 26, 2021).

One has to keep in mind the principles of ration formulation. The following figure provides details on the principles of ration formulation.

Figure 3: Showing the basic principle for computing the ration for Dairy animals

Feeding Colostrum to calves:

• The calves should be fed colostrum as early as possible and positively within 30 min of birth. Colostrum feeding should be continued up to 4 days of age at the rate of 3 to 4 liter per day.

• Where the dam’s colostrum is not available, two eggs and 30 ml of castor oil should be fed orally and serum of the dam should be administered intravenously for 2-3 days for increasing immunity of calves.

• Alternatively, colostrum from other dams can be fed to the new-born calves. Colostrum can be preserved in deep freeze for several months for future use.


Consultant’s comment: In Indian situation of farming & feeding;

(1) Keeping the tropical disease resistance in mind, it is better to rear exotic cross breed medium yielding cows (15-22 litres per day), compared to keeping pure high yielding exotic breeds.

(2) Rearing high milk yielding cows (above 20 litres), is actually liability, as the productivity do not last longer in the absence of proper feeding (Indian feeding style)

(3) As far possible keeping medium body weight dairy cows (300-400 Kg) should be preferred to reap the benefits of feed conversion ratio.

(4) Indigenous milk breeds of cows could be reared as pure breeds, as they imbibe the tropical disease resistance quality.



(1) Source: Standing committee on Agriculture (2016-17)-NIANP (ICAR), Bangalore (2) Source: (3) :; University of Minnesota Extension

Please wait for the Article on feeding management PART-4

The author of this article is Dr PK Shrivastava, Dairy Business Consultant, Bangalore, Email: (open to receive comments on the article)

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