One thing about any business is minimizing cost to maximize profit. Am I right? No serious businessowner will be interested in putting a lot of resources into a business to get ridiculous profits; rather he or she would be interested in ways to reduce the cost incurred in production to be able to increase the realized profits after sales.
In livestock production, minimizing production cost is very important. I also believe you are aware that the aspect of animal husbandry that takes many financial resources is feeds and nutrition. Feeds are just fuels to keep your business engine running, and you cannot just avoid feeding your animals daily. However, with the cost of getting feeds for your animals (most farmers buy), there is a need to source for means to reduce this cost without affecting the yield or performance in any way. Do you think this is possible? The good news is that it is also feasible and very easy. This post will teach you how you can reduce the cost of feeding your cattle, goats, sheep and other herbivores without adversely affecting their performances.
This method I’m introducing to you is very easy, but its basic principle is establishing your own pasture on your farm or not very from your farm. Hence, it requires extra space or piece of land which is large enough based on the number of animals you have. You may want to ask for the meaning of pasture. Pasture is a piece of land where grasses and legumes are grown naturally or artificially for the feeding of animals.
Advantages of Having a Personal Pasture
When a livestock farmer has a well-established pasture (either natural or artificial), there is a better opportunity to reduce feeding cost. This is because animals will graze on the edible herbage on the pasture while the farmer saves more money instead of sourcing for forages outside the farm. Other advantages of having personal pasture are as follows:
- Constructive utilization of land.
- Prevention of risk associated with nomadic grazing such as theft, accident, feed poisoning, diseases, nuisance etc.
- Adequate management of animals since they are under proper and close supervision.
- Easy fortification and introduction of necessary nutrients into herbage.
- Animals are able to save the energy that is expected to be spent on moving a longer distance in search for forages or grazing.
- Easy detection and prompt correction of nutritional problems associated with forages consumed.
Factors to Consider Before Establishing a Pasture
There are some major factors to consider before establishing a pasture. These factors are:
- Size and topography of available land and fertility of its soil
The size of the land to be used as pasture must be large enough to accommodate the size of your stock. Furthermore, the fertility of the soil is of utmost importance. When the soil is fertile enough, then forage yield will be high just as any other crop.
- The type of grass or legumes to be sown
When planning to establish a pasture, the type of grasses or legumes to be sown are important. Make sure you select edible grasses and legumes that can survive in your geographical region. However, there are grasses and legumes that can thrive in both temperate and tropical regions. If you have a difficulty with selecting grasses for your region, then you can contact me or consult the nearest agricultural research station near you. When you notice that the soil has low fertility, then make plans to support using manure or inorganic fertilizers such as NPK. Examples of grasses and legumes edible to ruminants are as follows.
|Botanical name||Common name||Native region|
|Andropogon gayanus||Gamba grass||Tropical Africa|
|A. tectorum||Southern gamba grass||Tropical Africa|
|Axonopus compressus||Carpet grass||Tropical and subtropical America|
|Axonopus scoparius||Imperial grass||Central and South America|
|Brachiaria decumbens||Signal grass||Tropical Africa|
|Brachiaria mutica||Para grass||Tropical Africa and South America|
Read more about grasses and legumes here
- Availability of seed or planting material
There must be enough quantity of seeds of forages or planting material available for sale and they must be viable. If the seeds cannot be easily gotten, an alternative such as stem cuttings should be used.
- Seasonality of rainfall
There must be an assurance of adequate rainfall in the region for sustainability of grasses and legumes. If there is no assurance of adequate rainfall, then irrigation should be employed.
- Management skill
Managing a sown pasture requires sufficient skills. Therefore, you must have gotten enough skills about pasture and how they can be well managed.
Procedures for Establishing a Pasture
- Clear the bushes on the land, plough and harrow the land.
- Remove tree stumps and roots after harrowing.
- Spread organic manure such as poultry, cattle or pig faecal waste on the land and you can as well use NPK fertilizer.
- Wait till you have the first rainfall or use irrigation of manure wetting system to moisten the soil in case the soil is dry and leave for 4 weeks.
- After the fourth week of rest, start sowing the seeds of the grasses and legumes you’ve procured in the right quantity (40kg/hectare for grasses and up to 15kg/hectare for legumes).
- Monitor the germination and growth of the seeds and seedlings, and prevent animals from feeding or trampling on them. You can also remove any form of weeds on the land to avoid nutrient competition.
- Replace dead or stunted plants with good and viable ones.
- Wait until when pasture is up to 6 months old of establishment before you start introducing your animals to feed there.
- Do regular prunning and rogueing to improve the development of the forage
These are elementary information on establishing a pasture for your livestock, but there are other information that is still required. However, this procedure can still help for small-scale pasture, but if you think you will need my service in establishing a pasture for your animals, then contact me to discuss better.