The feeds or foods that are given to grasscutters should meet all their daily nutritional requirements. Since the grasscutters would be in captivity, their diet should consist of majorly green forage, but fresh or dried food could also be provided. They can also be given concentrates rich in energy, proteins and minerals.
Grasscutters need a balanced diet daily. The green mistake some grasscutter farmers make is given their animals only green forage. That is one of the reasons for the slow growth and low milk production in nursing female grasscutters. On the other hand, if they are not fed with green forage such as grasses or legumes, they would suffer digestive problems. A balanced diet would produce an average weight of 3.5kg and 2.8kg in male and female cane-rats respectively.
Some of the forage and concentrates that grasscutters could be fed with as presented below:
1. Edible grasses and legumes (click here to see the list of grasses and legumes)
2. Agricultural by-products such as garden wastes, leftover vegetables, ripe or unripe fruits, coconut, leaves, pawpaw and bamboo shoots.
3. By-products from agricultural processing like Brewers dried grain (BDG), corn bran, wheat bran and groundnut cake (GNC).
4. Tubers and roots: Yam, yam peels, cassava, cassava peels, potato, potato peels, cocoyam and cocoyam peels.
5. Cereals grain such as rice, millet, sorghum and corn
6. Shells like egg shells, oyster shell or bone meal
Grasscutters should be provided with food always. Also, the grasscutters should be fed with fodder 2 hours before feeding them concentrate in the morning and evening. It is also very important to provide water always to the animals. Hence, grassy fodder needs to be dried in the sun for 1-2 days before feeding them to animals.
Concentrate could be combined with fodder. The concentrate can be made up from just one ingredient or several ingredients. It is advisable to alternate the concentrate if single ingredient concentrate is used. If the concentrate is a mix of more than one ingredient, then it could be given to the grasscutters continuously.
Importance of conserving and storing feeds
Conservation of feeds and stocking the feed barn is another aspect of grasscutter farming that should be considered. The fodder for the animals should be air-dried or sun-dried and kept in a dry place. Planting and cultivating fodder could be done to have sufficient fodder in the period of scarcity.
Concentrates should be stored in a dry place and avoid storing them for long because a concentrate feed is very sensitive to changes in humidity, temperature and/or oxidation. It could also be attacked by insects, rodents, mites, bacteria, fungi or mould.