- These are plants which either grow naturally or are cultivated by man to be used for feeding livestock.
- The term forage crops include pasture and fodder crops.
- Fodder crops are purposely grown for feeding livestock.
- They are cut or uprooted when ready
- Pasture is a ground cover of grass or a mixture of grass and legumes grazed directly or cut and fed to livestock.
Classification of Pastures
According to type of stand.
- Either pure
- Mixed stands.
According to ecological zones .
- Low altitude,
- Medium altitude,
- High altitude pastures
According to the establishment .
- Artificial pastures.
Examples of grasses
- Congo signal,
Examples of legumes;
- This involves clearing the land, primary and secondary cultivation to a fine tilth because the seeds are small.
- This is done during the dry season.
Selection of planting materials
- Select seeds of high germination percentage,
- Free from impurities or buy certified seeds.
- If vegetative materials are used, select from high yielding, vigorous-growing and healthy plants.
Treatment of legume seeds
- Legume seeds are inoculated with the correct strain of bacteria which fix nitrogen for the crop.
- This is done at the beginning of the rains
Methods of sowing are;
- Direct sowing,
- Under sowing,
This is introduction of a pasture legume in an existing grass pasture.
The establishment of a pasture in an already existing crop which acts as a cover crop.
Seeds rate depend;
- On purity of seeds,
- Pasture species
- Whether pure or mixed stand.
Apply phosphatic fertilizer when planting and later top-dress with nitrogenous fertilizer.
- Re-seeding or gapping; Re-seeding is done if the grass is completely denudated.
- But if partially, gapping can be done
- Control of weeds by slashing, uprooting and mowing
- Fertilization of pastures-done by use of manures and nitrogenous fertilizer.
- Topping;This is the removal of stemmy fibrous material left behind after grazing.It allows new growth after the rains
- Control of pests-done by trapping of moles, use of pesticides and biological means.
- Pastures should be utilized at maturity when nutritive value is high.
It is utilized through the following methods:
- Direct grazing – this can be done through rotational grazing or herding.
- Zero grazing – this is where the pasture is cut and fed to the animals in the stalls.
Common fodder Crops
- Altitude: 1500 – 2000m above sea level.
- Establishment: Young tubers or bulbs are used.
- Spacing: 1m x 1m.
- Management: Does well with application of farmyard manure and requires fertile land.
- Utilization: Tops and tubers are sliced and fed to livestock.
- Conservation: Bulbs or tubers are sliced and stored.
- Altitude: 0 – 2000m above sea level.
- Establishment: Stem cuttings or splits.
- Spacing: 1 m x 50cm.
- Apply phosphatic fertilizers during planting time.
- Top-dress with nitrogenous fertilizers in split application.
- Clean weeding when young.
- Cut when 6-8 weeks or 1m-1.5m in height.
Utilization: Cut stem is fed to livestock.
Conservation: Ensiled when in plenty.
Types of Napier Grass:
- Bana grass (broad-leaved with hairy leaves)
- Clone (thin-stemmed and hairless)
- French Cameroon (thin-stemmed and not hairy).
- Pakistan hybrid (thin-leaved with hairy leaves).
- Used for silage making.
- Altitude: 1500 – 2500m above sea level.
- Soil: Deep red soil are ideal.
- Establishment: Inoculated seeds are planted 30-50cm apart in the rows.
- Management: Weeding and fertilizer application.
- Utilization: Cut wilted and fed to livestock before flowering stage.
- Conservation: Hay, silage, dried materials such as cubes or pencils.
- Is a root crop.
- Root is utilized as livestock feed.
- Ripe ones are used.
- Leaves used as livestock feeds.
- Leaves and stems used as livestock feed.
- Columbus grass
- Sudan gras
- Established from seeds which are drilled or broadcasted.
- Columbus grass should be dried before feeding to animals to avoid hydrocyanic and prussic acid poisoning.
Desmodium (Desmodium spp)
Two varieties ;
- Green leaf
- Silver leaf.
- Established from seeds on thoroughly prepared clean beds.
- Can also be inter-planted with Napier grass.
- Cut and wilted before feeding to livestock.
Agroforestry, trees used as fodder crops include:
Forage can be conserved as;
- Standing forage.
Importance of forage conservation:
- To reserve excess forage for use during time of shortag
- To avoid unnecessary wastage of f
- Conserved forage can be sold.
- To have sustained supply of feed for livestock throughout the year.
- This is the dehydration of green pastures to a moisture content of 16-20 per cent:
Steps in hay making:
- Cut the crop when the sun is shining.
- Dry the materials for 1-2 days.
- Windrow the dry material to allow for further drying.
- Bale the dry materials for storage.
- Store under shed or shelter.
Factors Determining Quality of Hay
- Stage of growth at which forage is harvested.
- Leaf content of the forage material.
- Method of handling and curing the hay.
- Form in which material is fed to livestock.
- Species of forage used.
- Amount of foreign materials in forage.
- This is a feed produced by conserving forage in succulent form through the process of fermentation by anaerobic bacteria.
Steps in silage making:
- Cut the crop and transport it to the silo,
- Material with a high moisture content is wilted in the sun for 4-48 hours before ensiling .
- Material is chopped to reasonable size pieces before filling in the silo.
- Spread the chopped material evenly.
- Check temperature if below 31°C, needs further filling; if above 31 °C compaction is necessary.
- Filling should be complete by the end of the third or fourth day.
- The silo is covered with 15cm of straw, sawdust then 15cm of soil to make it air and water tight.
- A trench is dug round the silo to keep off surface water.
Factors Affecting the Quality of Silage
- Maturity stage of the crop when cut.
- Type of crop.
- Moisture content of the material
- Additives such as molasses.
- Degree of compaction.
- Size of pieces ensiled.
- Amount of foreign materials included in the silage.
- Amount of leaf of the ensiled material.
- This is forage left in the field to be used during the dry season.