Friday, February 6, 2015

Plan to set up feed mill on varsity campus to train farmers

Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University plans to set up a feed mill on its Bidar campus to provide hands-on experience to students and farmers. It will demonstrate to farmers how nutritious feed can be made in their backyard at low cost using available crop residue, Vice Chancellor C. Renuka Prasad told The Hindu.

The centre will teach farmers how to make feed bricks or pellets using crop waste. Most of these are mechanical processes. But some varieties can also be made at home, with minimal technical training, he said.

“After harvest, sugarcane growers usually slash and burn the leftover crop. We are trying to reason with farmers to discontinue this practice and use the waste to make feed blocks. This is the primary job of the demonstration unit,” he said.

The unit will also be used to provide hands-on training to graduate and post-graduate students. It will also have a research and extension wing where students can try newer methods of develop nutritious feed varieties at lower costs, he said.

“The unit will be the first step towards nutrition security,’’ said professor, department of nutrition Ramachandra B, who heads the team that came up with the plan for the mill. Feeding animals the right way is important. Most farmers tend to neglect it, sadly, he said.

“We need to create awareness about nutritional requirements of animals and birds. Animals for example, need green grass round the year. Scarcity of grass or prolonged dry spells reduces milk or meat yields, and adversely affects the health of animals. An easy method of supplementing the diet of animals in times of green grass scarcity is by feed blocks and pellets, that can be easily prepared,” he said.

Cost of feeding animals forms nearly 70 per cent of animal production. Scientific feeding is therefore essential to maximize production of milk meat and eggs, he said. “The unit could be scaled up to produce enough fodder to supply to all the University’s farms and constituent colleges,’’ Dr Ramachandra said.

“We recognize this as a very important element in supplementing the income of animal farmers,’’ P.C Jaffer, deputy commissioner, said. “The government will work with the university in having a feed mill and spreading word about nutritional security for animals. We have requested the Hyderabad Karnataka Regional Development Board to fund the project. The signals are positive, he said.

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