Some common guidelines for buffalo feeding
While using the feeding schedule suggested for any category of buffaloes following points has to be taken care of.
a) The amount of green fodder was calculated assuming DM% of cereal fodder (maize, oat, jowar, bajra, etc.) as 20% and that of leguminous fodders (berseem, buffaloes pea, Lucerne, etc.) as 15%. For much deviation from these values amounts of fodder need to adjusted.
b) In term of nutritive value, 1 Kg standard concentrate mixture (20% CP & 70% TDN) is equivalent to a) 7.5 Kg leguminous fodder (15% DM) or b) 5.0 Kg cereal fodder + 0.25 Kg groundnut/soyabean cake or c) 1 Kg straw + 0.45 Kg groundnut/soyabean cake. These values can be utilized to further modify the suggested ration depending on availability of feed and fodders.
c) All animals have to be supplemented with good quality mineral mixture. Mineral mixture (BIS type II) should be fed @ 0.6% of total dry matter intake and salt @ 0.3% of total dry matter intake. When BIS type I mineral mixture is used, mineral mixture should be fed @ 0.9% of dry matter intake. Thus, young calves should be fed @ 10-20 g BIS type II mineral mixture and 5-10 g salt daily and lactating and adult buffaloes should be fed with 60-80 g mineral mixture and 30-40 g common salt daily depending on body weight and milk production. Mineral mixture of reputed companies and bearing BIS or ISI mark should only be purchased. Many spurious mineral mixtures are available in the market where costly ingredients like phosphorus, manganese, zinc, iodine, etc. are very low or nil and excess of cheaper ingredients like calcium carbonate are present. Many such mineral mixtures are being sold with ‘as per ISI’ level which is not ISI marked/certified. Feeding of such mineral mixture can be very dangerous because of a possible disturbance of the overall dietary mineral balance and the consequent adverse effect on the absorption and utilization of certain minerals by the animals. Special care has to be taken to meet P requirement of animals fed berseem-based diet. Phosphorus requirement can be met by feeding of 20 g mono ammonium phosphate or 50-70 g mineral mixture per head per day.
d) Buffaloes require vitamin A or its precursor beta- carotene in its diet. Daily feeding of 2-3 Kg green generally meets the requirement of vitamin A. When no green fodder is available, milch buffaloes should be supplemented with vitamin A (20000 to 45000 IU/d) and growing buffaloes should be fed 2000 to 8000 IU/d. Generally, there is no need for supplementing other vitamins to adult buffaloes.
e) The high yielding animals should be fed at regular interval, say twice daily, to maintain a continuous fermentation in their rumen. High yielding lactating buffaloes should preferably be offered four times a day by diving total ration into four equal meals. When high level of conentrate is fed, it should be mixed with the roughage before feeding. Such mixed feeding improves feed utilization. The feed ingredients should be offered after reduction in particle size, i.e. forage components should be chaffed properly and grains should be coarsely ground.