Tanzeela Tabasum & Parvaiz Ahmed Reshi
(Division of Animal Nutrition, F.V.Sc & AH, SKUAST-K)
In J&K as in other parts of India, farmers rely mostly on agro-industrial byproducts, straws and other fibrous feeds for livestock feeding during winters. Such feeds are deficient in energy, minerals, proteins and vitamins. Therefore, livestock reared on such a feeding system suffer from malnutrition. Supplemental feeding and fortification of such low-quality feeds is required to harvest the true genetic potential of livestock.
J&K is fodder-deficit state and fodder is seasonally available with poor nutritive value and digestibility (Ganai et al. 2006). Fodder requirement of J&K is 12563 thousand metric tonnes (MT), while as its availability is just 7459 thousand MT for livestock population of 10938 thousand. This 40% fodder deficiency on basis of DM is more pronounced in green fodder than in concentrates (Wani et al. 2014). Fodder availability in J&K is 2.28 kg/animal /day, while in rest of India it is 5.15 kg/animal/day. Therefore, livestock reared on such meagre fodder which is not even nutritionally adequate suffer from malnutrition and hence poor production. Supplementation and fortification of such low-quality forage helps.
Supplementation with Multi Nutrient Blocks (MNBs) also called as Urea Molasses Mineral Blocks (UMMBs) is considered one of the easiest and effective methods of fortification of low-quality roughage (Jayawickrama et al, 2013). Multi Nutrient Blocks are lick blocks made of urea, molasses, brans, oil cakes, and mineral mixtures compensating the lack of adequate nutrients in poor-quality roughages. They are a cheap and rich source of nutrients required for optimum production, growth reproduction and health. Multi Nutrient Blocks offers condensed source of nutrient supplementation to cater to the need of providing protein, energy and minerals to animals feeding on poor fibrous feeds.
The ease of transportation, storage and its use coupled with improved performance production in terms of milk, meat, reproduction along with increased microbial growth in rumen and consequent improved digestibility makes the use of Multi Nutrient Blocks as a preferred source of supplementation in livestock feeding, particularly during the winter months when pastures and orchards are dried up and are covered with snow and feeding of animals is to confined to sheds using poor-quality roughages like paddy straw.
Formulation of Multi Nutrient Blocks
Traditionally, MNBs are produced by hot process and cold process. However, any method of ease can be adopted to make the blocks.
?Hot process: Urea and molasses are heated to 130 degree Celsius. Then ingredients are added and mixed. Blocks are made using hydraulic press.
?Cold process: Molasses and urea are mixed and kept overnight. After adding other ingredients, the semisolid mixture is put in iron frame and allowed to harden.
Composition of Multi Nutrient Blocks
An expert in Animal Nutrition can use different permutation and combinations of urea, molasses, mineral mixture, brans, oil cakes, Portland cement, etc, to produce suitable MNBs for particular groups of animals. However, under all circumstances, urea and a ready source of energy (molasses) need to be properly balanced for safe and efficient use.
Steps to produce MNBs
Manufacture of MNBs can take place on the farm itself and the manufacturing can be divided into 4 stages:
1. Preparation of components: Different ingredients are weighed depending on the formula to be adopted.
2. Mixing: The ingredients are mixed properly.
3. Moulding: Properly mixed ingredients are put in mould of varying shape and size depending on block weight required. Force is applied over the filled mould mechanically or by using a wooden bar.
4. Drying: Blocks are allowed to dry for about 10-20 days depending upon the weather condition. Hot weather is desirable for proper hardening of the blocks before use.
Precautions to be followed
a) Blocks should be fed only as lick and not in ground form or dissolved form to allow slow release of nutrients and avoid toxicity.
b) Feed blocks to ruminants only and not to monogastric animals and young ruminants less than 6 months of age.
c) Blocks should only supplement the basal diet. It should never be replace the basic diet.
d) Cattle may consume 500-800 g blocks per day (Upadhyay et al., 2018).
e) Water should be freely available during MNB supplementation to ensure safe and proper utilisation of urea.
f) Adaptation period of feeding MNBs, generally two weeks, with large diurnal variation should be ensured.
Advantages of feeding Multi
I) Effect on dry matter intake and digestibility: Fibrous feeds have poor digestibility because of their coarse size by which it is unable to pass through reticulo ruminal orifice. Supplementation of MNBs increases nitrogen and energy content which increase utilisation of crop residues (Brar et al, 2003) by increasing their fermentation (Brar et al, 2003, Mael et al, 2015). With MNB feeding, digestibility of straw increased by 30%-50 % (Mengistu et al, 2017). Digestibility of organic matter increased from 45.22% to 53 % and dry matter digestibility increased from 44% to 50 % (Herrera et al, 2007).
II) Effect on rumen microorganisms: Total bacteria, viable bacteria and protozoa showed an increase in their concentration, increase in Ph and increased concentration of total volatile fatty acids after 3hrs of MNB feeding. However, concentration of acetic acid and butyric acid significantly decreased (Singh et. al, 2013). Feeding of MNB is reported to increase microbial protein by 37.99% in cattle (Shuharyano et al.)
III) Effect on milk production: In cattle, Bheekhee, et al, reported that the total milk production was 2892 and 2737 litres per lactation for Block fed cattle and control group respectively. Milk yield per day was estimated to be 4.70 L and 6.00 L per day in control group and block supplemented group respectively (Lawania et al 2017).
IV) Effect on reproduction: Birth weight of calves born from cows fed with MNBs was significantly higher than control group (Aye et al, 2010). Mahi, et al, reported that weight gain of such calves was higher with no mortality.
V) Effect on biochemical parameters: Blood serum showed a significant increase in enzymes like CP, GSHPX, SOD, AKP, LDH (Hailili et al, 2014). Blood minerals concentration was also significantly higher after block feeding (Hailili et al, 2014).
VI) Benefit cost analysis: Total revenue of MNB treated household was 24.5% more as compared to control group in different research reports.
Feeding of MNBs to cattle is an effective tool for making an economically viable dairy sector. The benefit cost ratio is high due to locally available ingredients at reasonable price. MNB feeding creates favourable environment in the gut, which increases digestibility of low quality fibrous feed. Milk yield is increased, as is dry matter intake, fertility; body condition of newborn calf is improved. With all these benefits, the urgent need of hour is to diffuse such technology to farmers which can bring socio-economic transformation in rural economy. Moreover, farmers should be trained to properly produce MNBs and correct way of feeding to animals so that positive results will encourage other fellow farmers to adopt the technology. However, it must be ensured that the blocks are prepared under the technical supervision of a competent Animal Nutritionist to avoid urea toxicity in animals that, if it happens, may prove counterproductive. —Parvaiz85@gmail.com