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Paddy straw evolves as alternative fodder for milk giving animals

The research being carried out by Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana to use paddy straw as an alternative fodder for milk giving animals will play a key role in cutting down the problem of burning of paddy straw during kharif harvest, a major environment and health hazard during the onset of winters. In the past, paddy growers in Punjab and Haryana preferred to burn the straw than feeding it to the animals, due to high silica content. Atleast 190 lakh tonnes of paddy straw is produced in Punjab and only about half is set ablaze while rest is used by way of in-situ (mixing in the soil) and ex-situ purposes (by evacuating from the farms) for usage as fuel, manufacturing pellets for usage as fuel in thermal power generating units, in paper and plywood industry.

The university is experimenting paddy straw usage by preparing silage, by mixing 1% (one kilogram) urea and 3% (three kilogram) molasses into a quintal of paddy straw, with 30 liters water as an alternative to dry wheat fodder and green fodder.

“We are using the silage at our university dairy farms and big dairy farms in the state. It has given very encouraging results,” said Dr Ravinder Grewal director life-stock farms GADVASU. He said that it is recommended to use 3-4 kilograms urea treated paddy straw silage for all milk giving animals along with green and dry fodder. Dairy farmers in Gujarat and Rajasthan are using urea treated paddy straw as fodder in large quantities.

Speaking on dealing with silica content in paddy straw, Grewal said that urea and molasses treatment reduces its impact, makes it easier to digest and decreases and also fulfills nutrition requirements. By the end of harvest season on November 30, a total of 49,922 cases of paddy straw burning have been reported which witnessed a fall of 30% as compared to the previous season when total of 71,246 cases were recorded during the same time in previous year’s paddy harvest season. The burning of stubble led to formation of a thick layer of smog over north Indian states particularly Delhi which led to drastic fall in air quality index.

According to Dr JPS Gill, director research, GADVASU, usage of paddy straw as fodder would contribute to fall in number of paddy stubble burning cases. It is to be seen how dairy farmers adopt to the new fodder.

“Research for using paddy straw is going on for 20 years and now we have zeroed on this formulation which has best result. New born calves add 700-800 grams weight by feeding on this, which is normal growth,” adds Grewal. The paddy straw silage costs ₹2-3 a kilogram, which in comparison to the wheat straw and green fodder is much cheaper, which costs ₹10-12 a kilogram and atleast ₹5 a kilogram.

“We have adopted this method and results are very positive,” said Sadeep Singh, a dairy farmer from Alamgir near Ludhiana. Sandeep who rears 50 cattle heads in his dairy, adds that a number of dairy farmers have adopted this system, especially when the cost of dry and green fodder has increased manifold in the past few years.

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