In India, we are feeding agricultural residues after crop harvesting to the cows and buffaloes. By-products of various industries like oilseed processing, fruit juice and breweries/distilleries are fed to the animals. Since 1947 fodder production area in the country has remained stagnant at 5%. Contrary to the animal feeding condition, India is number one country in milk production in the world because of huge animal population.
To meet the present and future demand for milk and other foods of animal origin, sustainable feeding of the animals is the need of the hour. Following points should be considered:
Use of silage and hay for the animals should be promoted. One kg of silage is equivalent to two kg of green fodder, whereas one kg of hay is equivalent to 5-6 kg of green fodder. This will help farmers to reduce cost of milk production and also to improve productivity of the animals.
Unconventional feed ingredients should be used to feed the animals which will reduce load on traditional feed ingredients like maize, jowar, bajara and oilmeals of soybean, mustard, groundnut, sunflower etc.
Feed additives like enzymes should be used, which will help to extract more nutrients from feeds fed to the animals.
Better technologies should be adopted to improve digestibility and application of feeding. e.g. floating fish feeds not only avoid wastage of feed but also deterioration of water quality. Pelleting of poultry feeds improves utilization of nutrients present in it.
Use of flavors will allow use of unconventional feed ingredients. Use of enzymes like phytase will avoid nitrogen and phosphorus pollution of land.
GM technology is controversial, as few people say that it is not environmentally sustainable and others say exactly opposite!
Soil health cards is a must for each Indian farmer for sustainable production of food crops, as the residues of these food crops are fed to animals. Burning of crop residues needs to be strictly banned to avoid environmental pollution and soil degradation.
Area specific mineral mixtures should be manufactured and sold in different parts of the country.
Already such research has been done by NDDB, NIANP and veterinary colleges. Instead of inorganic mineral mixtures, organic mineral mixtures should be fed to animals as they are more environmentally sustainable.
Learning from success stories of poultry sector in India, it is high time we start focusing on dairy sector with same kind of initiatives. Topics like future new protein sources, the potential use of phytogens in animal nutrition and the possibilities of metabolonomics in livestock nutrition should be discussed on various platforms. Attention needs to be given to the effects of early nutrition on the production and metabolic processes later in life.
The relation between nutrition and immune response should be understood deeply. We should also study the interaction of nutrition, micro flora and host animal.