By pinoyfarmer | September 20, 2007
The optimum potential of the goat as one of the main sources of milk and meat has not been fully tapped in the Philippines. The goat is popularly known as the poor man’s cow because children and old folks who cannot afford cow’s milk prefer drinking goat’s milk. Aside from being cheap, goat’s milk is more digestible compared to cow’s milk.
The goat is a clean animal and its male odor is only present during the breeding season. Female goats do not smell. Contrary to myth, goats do not eat trash. They do, however, lick the labels of the tin cans to taste the glue on the label’s back.
Goat raising is undertaken mostly by small farmers or backyard raisers. An average of one or two heads are raised by every farmer. Only a handful of commercial- scale goat farms can be found in the country. Annex 1 gives a list of commercial goat farms.
In the Philippines, the goat population is estimated at 2,120,110 as of 1988. This figure shows a minimal increase 0f 5.19% as compared to the previous year.
In a study conducted by a government agency, it was found out that goats are multi-purpose ruminants producing 58.4% milk, 35.6% meat, 4.3% hide, and 1.7% fiber. According to them, these small ruminants can provide the answer to improve nutritional requirements of the predominantly rural farm families scattered all over the archipelago.
II. BREEDS TO RAISE
There are many breeds of goats worldwide but the available breeds in the Philippines are as follows:
1. Nubians -Basically a tropical breed successfully adapted and raised in the western countries; distinguishing features are dropping, pendulous ears and a “Roman nose’.
2. Jumna Pari - from India; thrives very well in the topics.
1. Saanen – Originated from Switzerland, pure white to off-white in color, has the highest milk production.
2. Toggenburg - Also from Switzerland; smaller than the Nubian and Saanen; distinguishing features are white markings on the face, legs and tail; erect ears like the Saanen.
3. Alpine - Also a European breed; colors range from off-white to red to black.
Does should preferably be purchased from your locality or from an area with similar climatic conditions.
Larger size native or grade does, not less than 25 kilos in body weight and those that have given birth at least once should be selected. Avoid buying initial stocks from stock markets, for adult does sold from these are generally productively undesirable or are poor in character. The reason for this is that farmers sell to the stock market only does which he no longer likes because of obvious reasons. The udder should be palpated for size, and for detection of lumps and abnormalities. General well being can be easily gauged from appetite and from the eyes which would be alert and the pupils well formed.
A minimum of two purebreed bucks of different breeds is mandatory. The generally accepted buck to doe ratio is 1:35. Progeny bucks or bucks that have successfully mated, and at least a year old are desirable. Select a buck with a good producing line based from the records of the farm sources. Demand for its records and pedigree when purchasing one. This way you can avoid buying a replacement buck which may be of the same family. Do not sacrifice price for an inferior buck. Replace bucks as often as possible, preferably every three years, to prevent inbreeding.
Goats are social animals. Family relationships often remain for the whole life of the species. It is usual to see an offspring always at the side of the mother even when rearing a kid of its own. Their pack character is also very evident, with the oldest buck or doe on the highest part of the sleeping area. They also have maintained their mountainous character. Goats prefer an elevated area for resting. The arrangement and feature of the housing, including management practices, must then be adapted to these characteristics.
Goats can be expected to live up to 13 to 15 years, with an average economic lifespan of 6 to 8 years.
In temperate countries goats kid only once a year, with the breeding season from late summer to early winter. In the Philippines, does come in heat year round with an average kidding interval of about 8 to 9 months. This is an advantage, for more kids can be expected.
To effectively manage goats, therefore, basic facts, feeding, and reproductive characteristics must be taken into consideration before planning a management operating procedure. Attempts to raise goats in a commercial way like what is done to pigs, poultry and cattle without considering the above characters have mostly failed.
There is, at present, an ongoing argument on whether to raise goats in pasture or under confined feeding. Comments and observations have been made and shown the property dewormed goats on pasture tend to perform better than those under close confinement. This can be traced to the fact that under range conditions, goats have liberal access to a variety of forage, which very well suits their feeding character. However, this entails a wider pasture land requirement, resulting to lesser breeding and herd supervision and a more frequent deworming schedule, which in the long run will prove more costly than the confined feeding method. Attempts have been made by several commercial raisers to combine the two methods, that is, grazing the goats during a limited time of the day and feeding in confinement for the remaining hours. They found goats to perform more creditably when grazed in the early morning from sunrise up to 9 AM and then fed in confinement for the rest of the day. Such schedule can be effectively utilized depending on available land and labor.
Whether on range or confined feeding, housing provisions are necessary. Basically, a goat house or shed must be built to provide shelter for the animals against the elements and from other animals. All goats are afraid of rain and wetness, as these make them prone to pneumonia. Goats also prefer to sleep in elevated areas, such that elevated sleeping platforms, like a stair type arrangement, must be provided. It must be well ventilated, well drained and easy to clean. Feeding racks (silage, water, mineral and concentrate) should be accessible to both goats and caretaker, preferably in the front of the aisle. Flooring should be included and elevated at least about 15 degrees to facilitate cleaning and drainage.
Separate pens should be provided for lactating does, dry does, kids, growers and bucks. The buck pen should be placed in such a way that it will always be visible to the breeding does yet far enough as to avoid transfer of the typical goat smell in case of lactating does when milk is to be sold.
Space Requirement for Goats
Floor space (sq. meter )
Does, bucks and adults – 0.75 – 1.50
Growing - 0.50 – 0.75
Kids – 0.20 – 0.50
Feeding space (linear cm.)
Does, bucks and adults – 15.24 – 25.40
Growing – 10.16 – 15.24
Kids – 7.62 – 12.70
A loafing area, fenced beside the goat house must be provided ( 100 to 150 sq. m./50hd.) complete with feeding racks and water troughs. This must be continuous with the goat house to allow them to loaf when preferred.
Any building material will do, depending on availability and financing, but the flooring must always be of cement to facilitate drying of the floor.
Cogon and nipa roofing materials are preferable in hot and humid areas. Ventilation is of utmost importance. Majority of puemonia cases can be traced to excessively warm and humid interior and sudden changes in temperature. Allow a 0.5 to 1 ft. clearance between floor to wall and wall to beam to create an adequate circulation and to lower draft. It is desirable to maintain an interior temperature of 28 to 30 degrees centigrade. It has been established that above 30 degrees centigrade, ruminants are inhibited from eating.
Lighting may also be provided in the barns during the night. Goats consume up to 30% of the day’s intake during the night when light is provided.
Nine-eye hog wire is the cheapest and most effective fencing available locally. Posts must be staked every 2 meters. Goats are fond of pounding their feet and scraping their bodies on the fences so it must be sturdily built. Barbwire fencing requires a minimum of four strands so it becomes more costly besides making goats prone to wounds.
A well developed/improved pasture can carry up to 15 head/ha. When a combines grazing confinement method is observed, provision of a developed 3 ha./50 hd. pasture divided into 9 paddocks will be desirable. Separate pasture paddocks should be provided for the dry doe, lactating doe, buck, kids and growers. Pasturing during the cool times of the day is commonly due.
B. Care of dry and Pregnant Doe
If the doe is being milked, dry (stop milking) at least 1 and ½ to months before kidding date. This will give her enough reserve for the next lactation. Put all dry does in one compartment. One week before kidding, place her in a separate kidding pen. This can be predicted by swelling and discharge from the vulva, engorgement and waxing of the teats and constant lying down of the doe. Avoid any form of noise in the kidding area. Sometimes it is necessary to help the pregnant doe during the kidding, especially to native does bred with pure bucks because the kids are bigger. Dystocia, or difficult delivery, is common in this cases. Be sure that the presentation is right before attempting to pull out the kid. In anterior presentation, both front legs and head are presented and in posterior presentation, both hind limbs come out at the same time. Oversized kids should be pulled out with an even, continuous pressure. In difficult cases it is best to see a practicing veterinarian.
C. Care of the lactating Doe and newborn Kids
Immediately after delivery, wipe the kid’s mouth, nose and body with a clean, dry cloth and massage the thoracic area to initiate breathing. Normally, this is done by the mother, but sometimes the mother is too weak to do it. Be sure no mucus is clogging the airways. The kids must be able to suck within one hour. They may need to be propped up. For every weak kids, feeding colostrum thru a stomach tube usually produces dramatic results.
First-time mothers sometimes are reluctant to suckle their young due to udder pain caused by over engorgement of milk. Restraining the doe for the first suckling will usually relieve udder pain. If colostrum in the udder is not fully consumed by the kid, stripping (Manually milking out excess ) will be necessary to prevent mastitis. The placenta must come out within 24 hours from expulsion of the fetus.
Tie the umbilical cord with a sterile string and apply disinfectant. Allow the kids to suckle for the first 4 to 5 days. It the doe is to be milked, separate the kids from the mother and start feeding using a baby bottle ( 8oz. size ). Refer to feeding guide for dosage. If the doe is not to be milked, the doe can be taken out of the pen for feeding and returned to the kid three times a day and the whole night. This method will ensure greater livability to the kid by not exposing it to the elements, and proper feeding of the doe. Does weaned early (4 to 5 days) usually return to heat after 1 to 2 months.
When the doe comes into heat, introduce it to the buck, not vice-versa. Two services a day for two days is optimum. It the doe not conceive, heat may return in 8 to 12 days. Higher conception is accomplished in the secondary heat. It breeding is successful, milk production drops after one month and the right side of the abdomen starts to fill up.
Goats, like cattle, usually adapt to a routine. Milking periods must be established and strictly adhered to. If milking is done twice a day, say 6 AM and 6 PM, the process should not be delayed or advanced. If possible, the same personnel should be used. Goats can withhold their milk, so unnecessary changes in the routine should be avoided.
Milk quickly and continuously. Milk let down can be initiated by washing the udder with lukewarm water and wiping with a clean towel. All milking utensils, especially the milker’s hands, must be thoroughly clean.
Feed concentrates during milking. This serves as incentive to the goats for them to enjoy and look forward to.
Contrary to popular beliefs, properly drawn and processed goat milk has no offending smell.
During milking the buck should not be near the doe in order to avoid transfer of the typical goat smell to the milk.
D. Care of Weanling and Growing kids
Place all weaned kids in a separate pen, and if possible, according to size. If male kids are to be raised for meat, castrate as early as possible, preferably within the first month. If females are to be raised for milking, check for excess teats and have them removed. Horn buds usually appear within the first to third month. Dehorn when buds reach the size of a fingernail. Separate males from females at the age of four months. Goats sometimes reach puberty at this age.
Start breeding females at 8 to 10 months. Bucks can start breeding at the same age.
E. Care of the Breeding Buck
The breeding buck must always be confined separately but always visible to the does. The buck is the source of the typical goat smell such that direct contact with the doe must be avoided. Provide a loafing area. A one to two year old buck can make 25 to 50 doe services a year, an older buck more.
The following are some reproductive characteristics of goats:
Age of puberty – 4 to 8 months
Cycle of type – Polyestrus
Cycle length – 18 to 21 days
Duration of heat – 2 to 3 days (secondary heat 8 to 12 days after)
Gestation period – 150 + 5 days
Best breeding time – Daily during estrus
Does reach puberty from 4 to 8 months. Best breeding age will be 10 to 12 months, depending on desired weight. Limit yearling buck services to 25 doe services/year. Older bucks can cover up to 75/year. Buck to doe ratio is normally 1:35.
The following are signs of heat or estrus:
1. Mucus discharge from the vulva, causing matting of tail hair.
2. Uneasiness, constant urination, lack of appetite and bleating.
3. Seeks out or stays near the buck and lets herself be mounted.
When breeding, always introduce the doe to the buck, not the buck to the doe herd. Particularly when bucks have not been used for a long time, it will be dangerous to mix it with a herd of pregnant does for they will breed indiscriminately. Two to four breeding during the heat period will suffice.
It is highly impractical if not economical to raise pure-breed goats, unless the main purpose is to sell breeders. The preferred method will be to upgrade local native or grade does with pure bucks. Cross breeds usually perform much better than pure ones under local conditions. Infusion of two or more bloodline into the native doe will elicit a better product due to hybrid vigor. Crossing a native doe with a buck of occidental breed, e.g. Saanen, Alpine or Toggenburg, produces a higher rate of hybrid vigor. Three-way crosses between the native, any of three Occidental breeds and the Nubian have produced a greatly superior animal than any of the three under our conditions. Higher milk production should be the main consideration for it will not only mean bigger kids but also more milk production should be the main consideration for it will not only mean bigger kids but also more milk for human consumption. A maximum infusion of 75% foreign blood line must be observed to retain the natural resistance of the native. Never practice inbreeding unless fully knowledgeable in breeding techniques. On the other hand, intensive culling, especially in milking herds, will largely be beneficial.
Dystocia is very common in crossing natives with large pure breeds due to the invariably large size of the unborn kids. Crossbreed birth weights of up to four kilos for multiple births and up to six kilos for single births have been observed while native birth weights reach only 2 and 4 kilos for multiple and single births, respectively. Thus, in cross-breeding, large native does with a minimum weight of 25 kilos or more and those that have given birth at least once, should be used. Providing human assistance during birth will also be of help in saving kids but this should be done only when necessary.
Anestrus, or failure to come in heat, is a common problem most particularly with high-producing does. Vitamin, mineral and other nutrient deficiencies, infections of the genital tract and hormone deficiencies are some of the various causes. Several hormones, like prostaglandin, progesterone sponges and implants and pregnant mare serum (PMS) have been used with varying rates of success. Routine administration of oxytocin right after kidding and before weaning 95 days) aids in faster expulsion of the placenta, uterine fluids and in the rapid regression of the uterus. Routine Vitamin A, D & E injections to breeding herds also contribute to reproductive well-being.
Fifty percent of breeding problems can be traced to the buck used. Routine check up of the buck’s health condition, especially of the genito-urinary tract, should be done. Preputial scraping, blood tests and sperm motility tests are some very useful procedures to follow in successful buck management. Always consult a trained veterinarian to do these tests.
Remarkable strides have been made in the field of goat artificial insemination, a method of breeding which enables goat raisers to utilized far-away proven bucks for impregnating their in-heat does. In the Philippines this has been successfully done at the National Rural Life center (NRLC) in Dasmariñas, Cavite where the first kid by goat. A.I. was born. The method is also being tried in Iloilo, which receives shipments of frozen goat semen from the NRLC.
G. Other Routine Management Practices
Goat hooves under confinement are usually overgrown. Trimming is then required. A rose pruner and a small curved knife are adequate tools. Cut excess hoof until level with the frog (white center part). Untrimmed hooves will cause lameness and make it prone to foot rot. Bucks refuse to mount when having sore feet.
Especially in milking herds, dehorning is essential. A dehored animal is more docile than a horned one. It will also eliminate unnecessary wounds due to fighting. Dehorn when horn buds appear (2 to 4 mos.) using hot iron cautery. A ½-inch GI pipe is an effective and cheap material for cauterizing. Chemical cautery is not preferred because kids tend to lick one another and may therefore lead to cauterized or burned tongues.
Castration of unwanted male goats is preferable within the first month of age. The testicles at this age are still not developed, thus there is lesser bleeding and stress. Castrated males grow faster than uncastrated males and are free of the goaty male odor.
Tattooing Ear Notching and other Forms of Identification
In order to keep track of individual animals, a positive identification is needed. No recording is possible without this. Ear notching is done more commonly because of permanence and easy identification. Refrain from using plastic tags. Tattooing causes no deformities but requires special tools that may be costly.
For a good breeding herd program, a proper and well kept recording system is necessary. The record must reflect all the essential data of individual animals.
Below is an example:
|Goat No. or Name||Date of Birth|
|Sex||Littermates – Single, Twins, triplets|
|Method of Disposal||Wt. At disposal – Kg|
The other herd data that can be gathered from the above are the kidding rates, kidding frequencies, reproductive pattern, superior buck to doe combinations among others. Additional data are forage production, forage and concentrate intake, health and treatment situations and all others which may seem trivial but could be of value in the future. Each caretaker must have his own record book, aside from the herd record for cross checking.
A. Recommended Pasture Grasses and Legumes
Goats, like other livestock require the same nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water but their need for some of these nutrients is not as critical. Bacteria and protozoa in the rumen of the goat have the ability to manufacture and make available many of the nutrients from such feeds as silage, hay-silage, and other fibrous feedstuffs. Goats are known to relish Paragrass, Stargrass, Napier grass, Guinea grass and Centrosema over many improved tropical grasses and legumes. It is also known that goats can browse on leaves of shrubs and bushes for their feed requirements.
B. Feed Requirements
A practical feeding program for goats, being ruminants, should be based on the type and quality of roughage available. This is because the quality of roughage available determines both the amount and the quality of concentrates needed to supplement the diet.
Confined goats should be given good quality forage for free choice, ad libitum. To increase water consumption, concentrates can be added at the rate of 1 kg./20 liters of drinking water. Provide vitamin-mineral and salt, ad libitum.
Pregnant Dry does
Pregnant dry does should be adequately fed with quality feeds to build reserves for the coming lactation and to nourish the developing fetuses. Does should be allowed liberal access to good quality forage and roughage, vitamin-mineral plus concentrates at a level of 0.20 to 0.70 kg./day depending on the body condition of the does.
Four months old and above
They should be fed enough for maintenance and for desirable growth, but not for fattening them. Generally, a liberal supply of good quality forage/roughage plus 0.20 to 0.50kg./day of concentrates is enough to obtain desired growth rate. Under complete confinement, goats may be fed with quality forage plus vitamin-mineral, and salt, ad libitum.
Bucks should be maintained on good pasture alone when not used for breeding. Two weeks before and during the breeding season, the ration of the breeding bucks should be supplemented with 0.2 to 0.7 kg. of concentrates. Forage, vitamin-mineral mix, and water should be given ad libitum.
C. Practical Feeding Guides
The general herd should be pastured most of the time to lower the cost of feeding and maintaining them. Provide enough space for grazing, but be sure that the pasture is rotated frequently, i.e., the herd is moved to another pasture after one pasture lot has been grazed for sometime. This will keep a pasture from being overgrazed and polluted or heavily infested by parasites. Even if the pasture has abundant feed, it may become a breeding place for parasites if the goats are allowed to graze on it for so long.
Breeding goats, as well as the growing and fattening stock, can be raised solely on pasture feeds. Goats enjoy feeding on a large variety of plant growth so that brush land, together with the common pasture grasses, is an ideal combination for raising healthy goats.
Goats are also selective when it comes to grazing. They eat only what seems suitable to them; hence, there is little danger of their eating poisonous weeds. Goats will be able to live on grazing even if only grasses are available on the pasture. However, they can feed better and grow better if there are different species of plants on the pasture. Leguminous plants can also help improve the quality of the pasture.
During the rainy days, keep the goats shut in the barn, well protected from the draft and provided with a clean solid floor. Give them cut grass or hay to eat. If the weather is humid and cold, and especially if there are strong winds, cheap grain feeds, like rice bran, will help maintain body vigor among the animals.
Care of the herd also includes giving them clean water and salt. Place a watering trough in the pen where the goats can drink any time they like. Also, place enough salt in the pen for them to lick whenever they want to.
TABLE 1. List of Common Philippine Feedstuffs for Goat production
Dry Matter %(DM)
Total Digestible Nutrients % (TDN)
Crude Protein %(CP)
Digestible Crude Protein (DCP)
|Corn Gluten, Feed|
|Rice Bran (cono)|
|Rice Bran (Kiskis)|
|Soybean oil meal|
|Para grass (dry season)|
|Para grass (wet season)|
|Guinea grass (dry season)|
|Guinea grass (wet season)|
|Tree leaves/Browse Plants|
|Source of Ca & P|
|Steamed Bone meal|
|Oyster Shell Flour|
TABLE 2. Feed Requirements
|AGE||FEED||AMOUNT PER DAY|
|Birth – 3 days||Colostrum||Ad Libitum (3 to 5X feeding)|
|4 days – 2 weeks||Whole milk(goat or cow milk)||0.5-1.0 liter/kid divided into 3X feeding|
|2 weeks-16 weeks||Whole milk or milk replacer||0.5-1 liter/kid divided into 2X feeding|
|Grass-legume hay or quality fresh forages||Ad Libitum|
|Vitamin-mineral mix||Ad Libitum|
|Starter (22%C.P.)||Increasing amount w/o causing digestive upset|
|4 months – Kidding||Forage vitamin-mineral mix||Ad Libitum|
|Concentrates (18-20% C.P.)|
|Dry, pregnant, bucks||Forage vitamin-mineral mix||Ad Libitum|
|Concentrates (16-18 % C.P. )|
|Lactating||Forage vitamin-mineral mix||Ad Libitum|
|Concentrates (16-18 % C.P. )||0.3-0.5 kg/liter of milk produced|
V. HEALTH MANAGEMENT
A. Health Management Practices
Have pens cleaned daily and washed at least three times a week. Disinfect at least twice a month. Accumulated feces and urine provides a good breeding ground for disease-causing microorganisms, provide a lagoon or pit to store waste for at least a month before spreading to the pasture. Use as fertilizer for orchards or vegetable garden.
Train personnel to observe sanitary procedures. Separate pens for diseased animals.
Limit visitors coming into the farm, including other animals. Quarantine newly arrived stock for at least a month before mixing with the main breeding stock.
Aside from pneumonia, parasites rank second in causing heavy mortality. From experience, tapeworms are the most debilitating worm problem in all ages of goats, Protozoa-like coccidia and amoeba are also common problems especially in young kids.
Have your goats checked regularly for specific worm load and deworm regularly depending on worm load and seasonal occurrences. Know what kind of internal parasite is affecting your herd before attempting to use a deworming product, or else it will be a waste of money and effort.
Lice and ticks are common problems. When these are observed, apply acaricide or chemicals against lice and ticks, in powder or dust form. This can be done by mixing the powder-form chemicals with 7 to 10 parts of starch or flour and apply as dusting powder. Refrain from using the liquid or spray form.
B. Common Infectious Diseases of Goats
Mode of Transmission
Direct contact from infected or contaminated udder; navel infection, genital or intra uterine infection of dam, contaminated environment.
* Fever, inability to suckle, nasal discharge, coughing and respiratory distress.
* Gradual emaciation may terminate as pneumonia-enteritis combination. Death common.
* Proper nursing in clean, dry environment necessary. Early cases respond to antibiotic treatment.
Mode of transmission
* Direct, through mouth, skin, open wounds or via umbilicus
* Swollen knees, lameless, pain if pressure is applied on affected joint. Fever may be present. Joints involved are hock, knee, elbow and stifle. Animal prefers recumbency, appetite affected with gradual deterioration.
Prevention and Control
* Minimize infection by treating wounds (castration and navel) dressing, hygiene management specially in areas of confinement. Treatment includes wide spectrum antibiotics and sulfa drugs.
Mode of transmission
* Direct or indirect
* Hot, painful and swollen udder. May become red due to inflammation later changing to dark reddish-blue indicating necrosis of udder tissue. Milk may be bloodstained, may contain flakes or clots. Fever, loss of appetite, depression and dehydration; gait or movement of doe is affected.
* Treatment: Intramammary infusion of antibiotics. Early and repeated treatment needed to prevent complications such as gangrene and toxemia.
* Prevention: proper treatment of injured teats with antiseptics; disinfecting udders for milking and proper milking technique. Monitor by surveillance to detect early cases for immediate isolation and treatment.
Sore Mouth/ORF/Contagious Ecthyma
* Characterized by papules, pustules, vesicles and scabs on the skin of the face, genitalia and feet, mucosa of the mouth, rumen, nostrils eyelids, gums, tongue, palate and middle ear. Occurs commonly to less than 1 year old sheep/ goat and feedlot lambs 3-7 months of age.
Mode of Transmission
* Contaminated equipment, fences, manure, beddings and feeds.
* Over crowding.
* Contaminated vehicles and workers.
* Infected suckling lambs, contaminated teats and udders of dams.
Prevention / Treatment
* Vaccinate feedlot lambs after entering the fattening facilities
* Vaccinate suckling lambs 1-3 days of age.
Mode of Transmission
* Direct and indirect contact with naturally infected animals, carriers, implements and other infected materials.
* Blister fluid, saliva and other bodily discharges highly infective.
* Fever vesicles, erosion in between hooves, cononary band (junction between skin and hoof), teats and udders oral mucosa and tongue.
* Raw ulceration follow rupture of vesicles, stingy or foamy salivation, smocking of the lips, difficulty in feed ingestion; staggering gait and lameness. Abortion in pregnant animals.
* Immediate notification of the authorities.
* Designation of quarantine areas and restricted movement of animals; disinfecting areas with virucidal agents (commercial disinfectant or lye caustic soda).
* Animal should be kept on dry ground and lesions treated with mild antiseptic (5% formalin).
* Mass immunization and effective restriction in movement of animals and carriers is necessary.
Mode of Transmission
* Ingestion of contaminated feed and water. Aborted fetus, Fatal membrance, placenta, urine and uterine discharge are main sources of infection.
* Infected males may transfer disease through natural/artificial breeding.
* Infertility, abortion, retained placenta, persistent vaginal discharge. In males, swollen and painful testicles with subsequent infertility/sterility.
* Blood tests and removal of infected animals.
* Vaccination may be tried.
* Antibiotic medication is found to be impractical.
Mode of Transmission
* Ingestion or inhalation of infective agent. May be normally present in the nasopharyngeal area but predisposition causes flare-up of infection.
* High fever, loss of appetite
* Respiratory distress, salivation, nasal discharge swelling of the throat and brisket congestion of mucous membrane, diarrhea becoming bloody later.
* Prophylactic vaccination.
* Removal of predisposition when possible.
* Early treatment with parenteral antibiotics and sulfa drugs.
Mode of Transmission
* Direct ingestion of infected material, biting flies.
* Indirect, through contact with materials and carriers.
* Sudden onset of fever, depression and loss of appetite.
* Swelling of chest, head, belly and legs, bloody diarrhea.
* Death common in early stages. Colic, abortion in pregnant animals, blood stained discharges, convulsions.
* Dead animals should be cremated or buried deeply under a layer of lime.
* Antibiotic treatments is only effective in early and less acute cases.
Mode of Transmission
* Infection initiated by trauma of the body and oral mucosa. Cases in larger ruminant maybe source of infection in the area.
* Sudden deaths in acute cases.
* Less acute: depression, fever, rapid respiration and suspended ruminatism.
* Typically, not painful swelling in thigh and leg muscles.
* Crackling sensation of palpation of swelling due to gas in tissues.
* Lameless in affected limb.
* Cremation of carcasses.
* Early isolation and treatment with massive doses of antibiotics.
Mode of Transmission
* Direct infection due to introduction of organism in wounds.
* Castration, old ulcerating wounds, dehorning complications. Not contagious to other animals.
* Early stages characterized by rigidity and stiffness of muscles, stilthy gait.
* Late stages: with tetanic convulsions, prolapse of third eyelid, stiff tail, head and neck thrown back; hyper-excitability.
* Bloat and other nervous signs.
* Treat wound with oxidizing antiseptic (hydrogenperoxide) until completely healed; use clean instrument castration, dehorning.
Mode of Transmission
* Commonly through direct infection with parasitic larval stages through herbages, less commonly through skin penetration and intrauterine infection in some species.
* Poor body condition anemia, diarrhea,potbelly and weakness.
* Regular deworming with effective anthelmintics (tetramisole, parbendazole, thiabendazole, pyrantil, etc.)
* Pasture rotation and improve feeding practices.
Mode of Transmission
* Infection with the parasite in the larval stage through herbage.
* As in parasitic gastro-enteritis for general signs.
* Specific symptoms include persistent husky coughing, respiratory distress.
* Regular deworming with tetramisole, albendazole or oxfendazole.
* General prevention as parasitic gastroenteritis.
Mode of Transmission
* Through ingestion of plant mites which are intermediate hosts.
* Same as other internal parasitism, passage of tapeworm segments in the feces.
* Regular deworming (albendazole, niclosanide, lead arsenate, oxfendazole )
Characterized by unthriftiness, loss of weight, anemia and edema.
Four species of trematodes:
• Fasciola hepatica
• Fasciola gigantica
• Fascioloides magna
• Dicrocoelium dendriticum
Post Mortem Lesions
* Affected animals isolate from the flock
* Decline the feeds
* Distended abdomen is painful upon manipulation
* Lose weight and become unthrifty, anaemic and edematous in the lips and intermandilubar tissues
* Ascites may form
* The wool loses its flexibility and tensile strength
Two Clinical Forms of the disease
* Acute form – traumatic invasion of liver parenchyma by immature flukes.
* Chromic form – billiary fibrosis resulting from prolonged residence of adult flukes.
Prevention and Treatment
* Control of fluke infestations
* Prevent the animals from grazing on infected pastures
* Use flukicide/anthelmintics in treatment
Mode of transmission
Direct contact with infested animals or indirectly through environment or facilities.
Constant scratching and rubbing to relieve itching and irritation. Scurfy coat (dandruff) and encrustation of exudate with scabby deposit. Loss of hair, raw skin and bruises in severe infestations. Animals become unthrifty, poor thriving, weak and anemic.
Use insecticide (Asuntol, Ciodrin, Diazinon, Neguvon, Supona, nankor, etc.). In dust from or solution repeat treatment in 10-14 days to kill all nymps which hatch out. Also spray pens and litter. Isolate treated from untreated animals.
Mode of Transmission
Direct and indirect contact with infected animals.
Marked itchiness and irritation with animals constantly rubbing or licking affected areas. Maybe patchy or generalized, skin becomes hairless, thickened or scabby.
* Periodic examination to detect early cases.
* Regular spraying with effective acaricides such as Malathion, Trichlofon,Fenthion, Diazinon, Crotoxyphos or Coumaphos. Interval of treatment should be 7-10 days with 2-3 applications to destroy mites that have hatched after each treatment.
Retention of gas in the rumen, characterized by increased intra-abdominal and intra-thorasic pressure caused by interactions of plants, animals and microbial factors.
1. distention of the abdomen
2. animals become uneasy
3. may alternate between standing and reclining positions.
4. breathing becomes difficult, rapid and shallow
5. ruminal movement are prominent
Kinds of Bloat
1. Green legume bloat – results from eating fresh chopped green grasses.
2. Hay legume bloat – results from feeding whole, chopped, ground or pelleted grasses which is conducive to bloat.
3. Free-gas bloat – result from inability of the animal to eructate usually associated with systemic disease or due to foreign bodies and abscesses, inflammatory swelling, enlarged thoracic nodes, and also dysfunction such as atrophy of the muscles that interfere with escape of gases and favor its accumulation.
4. Grain concentrate bloat – results from feeding bloat producing concentrate such as corn, soybean meal and barley.
Prevention and Treatment
1. Good Management and medicinal regiment in feeding
2. Avoid grinding the hay and other components too finely.
3. Stomach tube should be passed into the dorsal part of the rumen to remove any free gas.
4. Administer 0.5 to 1.0 liters of mineral oil or vegetable oil.
Acute Indigestion or grain Overload
Mode of Transmission
Signs appear from 10-36 hours after dietary changes. Depression, loss of appetite, abdominal distention causing pain and discomfort. Diarrhea develops. Rapid respiration and pulse, incoordination, weakness, coma, and death.
Avoid sudden dietary changes. Treatment generally unsatisfactory. Early cases may respond to high antibiotic levels given orally to reduce population of acid-forming bacteria, (Acidosis) indigestion maybe treated with anti-acids like baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), magnesium carbonate or magnesium hydroxide given orally in warm water ( 1 gm/kg body weight) to neutralize rumen acidity. Systematic acidosis requires intravenous injection of acid neutralized like 5 % sodium bicarbonate repeatedly given.
VI. INPUTS IN PRODUCTION
A. Backyard Operation
1. Goat house
2. Purchase of breeding stock
Veterinary medicines, vaccines, additional feed supplements besides the usual goat concentrates.
B. Commercial/large-scale operation
1. Fixed Investment
a. Goat house
b. Water pump
c. Feeding trough
e. Wheel barrow
f. Pasture grass species
2. Purchase of Stocks
a. Breeding Does
b. Breeding Bucks
3. Operating Expenses
a. Veterinary medicine, drugs vaccines, feed supplements and goat rations.
b. Labor, Fixed or seasonal
c. Repair & maintenance of building and pasture
By pinoyfarmer | September 20, 2007
Rationale and Present Status
Rabbits are fun to raise. You may have different reasons for raising them – enjoyment, education, business, show, laboratory, meat, fur, and the bi-products they produce, such as fertilizer and fishing worms.
Don’t expect to make a profitable business raising rabbits. Only a small minority of those who raise rabbits are capable of making a living out of it. Consider it, rather, an enjoyable hobby that can help pay for itself. Raising rabbits gets in your blood. Once you’ve had some good rabbits, you want to keep them around. However, raising too many and didn’t have enough markets is too costly.
Sad to say but rabbit raising in the Philippines is concentrated only to those people bent on utilizing abandoned chicken houses and converting them into rabbit hutches. This is the present situation in parts of Batangas and Cavite where chickens have gone rabbits may be better.
Of all mammals raised for meat, the rabbit has the highest reproduction rate. Because the female does not have any fixed estrous cycle, ovulation is rather induced, making it possible for rabbits to be bred anytime and have four or five litters a year.
With the soaring prices of beef, pork and poultry meat, more people, especially in the areas where meat is scarce, will turn to rabbit as a cheap source of animal protein – high in nutrients and low in cholesterol. When cooked rabbit meat is indistinguishable from chicken meat, hence, it is also called white meat.
Compared with poultry and other farm animals. Little research has been carried out on rabbits, although methods of production have undergone considerable change during the last few years, there is still much to learn.
Selection of Breeds
On the first thing that the prospective rabbit breeder must decide on is the breed or breeds in which to concentrate, The main characters influencing the choice should include prolificacy, growth rate, feed conversion, and yield of meat.
Rabbit breeds in greatest use for meat production are the New Zealand White and the California. Both these breeds are white fleshed and strains bred for meat are rapid growing, good feed converters and have a high ratio of meat to bone.
Nevertheless, females of breeds like the Belgian Hare, Flemish Giant, Giganta and Beveren can be crossed with heavy white bucks to produce meat rabbits.
Age of Stock at Purchase
Potential breeding stock can be bought from eight weeks of age up to maturity and does can be purchased already mated. Preferably stock should be purchased at about 12 weeks of age so that it may become accustomed to changes in diet, etc. before being expected to reproduce.
Housing and Equipment
For beginning raisers, use wire mesh for cage floors, bamboo or wood for sides and frames. Provide nylon curtains or empty feed sacks in front and back of cage to protect rabbits from rain and strong wind. Roll up curtain during daytime when there is no rain.
The type of hutch floor used by a breeder should be ascertained. Many strains of rabbits housed on solid floors do not take kindly to wire floors. Does developing sore hocks on wire floors may, because of being stressed, abort or drop their young over the wire rather than in the nest box.
As the rabbit grows and multiply, increase their living quarters. One buck and 6 does are sufficient to keep for breeding to produce food and sell to neighbors. For city residents one or two pairs will do.
Nest boxes are necessary, particularly for rabbits in wire floored cages. A simple box with the top and one side open is adequate, though the open side should have a retaining board 15 cm from the floor to prevent the young leaving the next prematurely. Boxes 40 cm long x 30 cm wide x 30 cm hi8gh are suitable for large breeds, but giants need something slightly larger.
Drinking equipment should be easy to clean and simple to operate. Dog bowls to supply water may be used by small producers. These bowls with a wide base are not easily tipped over and be place inside the cage.
Feeding equipment. Feed hoppers fixed to the outside of the cage with the trough projecting into it is use in large units. On small units where met mash is fed, glazed earthenware pots are commonly used to hold feed water.
A small breed doe is normally ready to mate when she is 5 months old, and a buck is ready at 6 months. The medium size doe is ready to breed when she is 6 months old and the buck at 7 months. The heavy breed doe is ready at 8 months and the buck is ready at 9 months.
It’s usually a good idea to select rabbits to breed whose ancestry has evidence of good productivity and good genetics. That’s where productivity records and pedigrees listing show winnings come in handy. Keep productivity and show records of your herd just for this purpose.
You may keep a ratio of one buck to 10 does if you wish. The buck may be bred up to 7 times a week effectively. Sometimes, you can use the buck twice in one day. The most I use a buck is twice a week.
When a doe is in heat, take it to the buck, never the reverse. At the start the buck will refuse to mate with the doe. Withdraw the doe and return it to the bucks cage 3 0r 4 hours later. Ten days after the first mating, the doe should be palpated for pregnancy.
The doe gestates for 29 to 32 days. Three or fours days before giving birth, it prepares its nest, sheds some of its fur for lining the nests. Upon noticing this, the raiser should clean and disinfect the animal’s cage and put clean straw beddings. The other rabbit will make her own nest.
Pregnancy can be diagnosed from 14 days onwards by “palpation technique”. [by gently moving the thumb and finger, embryos can be felt between the hind legs and in front of the pelvis].
Separate the pregnant doe and observe it closely to be able to assist it when it gives birth.
Feeds and Feeding
Feed rabbits with vegetables, corn, sorghum and rice. Subsisting on cabbage trimmings, kale and crops and cruciferous vegetables, rabbit can be more vigorous and healthier.
An adult animals need 115 to a70 gms of concentrate feed or chicken mash or grains daily. Commercial feed for poultry and swine are also good for rabbits. Pellet feed for rabbit is now available in many feed stores.
Always provide drinking water and salt. Provide gestating and lactating does with vitamins and minerals supplements, and more feed than bucks and dry does. This will ensure that does and their young healthy and resistant to disease.
Common Rabbit Diseases and Ailments
a] Intestinal coocidiosis – the most acute form of disease which damages the bowel wall.
b] Hepatic coocidiosis – a more chronic disease which attacks the liver and badly affected the young ones.
2. Enteritis - a form of disease in which large quantities of tenacious mucos are present in the bowel, and particularly common in young rabbit.
3. Respiratory diseases – disease of nasal cavities [snuffles] and the lungs [pneumonia] often occurs in rabbittries when environmental conditions are poor.
4. Disease of the ears and skin – Ear mange [canker] is a disease that can be easily and effectively treated if it is detected in the early stages. Affected rabbits have crusty reddish brown scales in the ear cavities and on the skin of the ears. Skin mange is due to presence of other species of mites which burrow in the skin and cause intense irritation. Generally, it occurs on the head and shows its presence by the appearance of yellow scabs on the nose, lips and face.
5. Sore hocks – the disease is due to bacterial infections, and this is common to suckling does. The mammary glands of the affected animal become hard and reddish blue in appearance.
6. Mastitis – the disease is due to bacterial infections, and this is common to suckling does. The mammary glands of the affected animal become hard and reddish blue in appearance.
7. Myxomatosis – this is common in wild rabbit and the affected one develops a discharge from the eyes and the eyelids swell and become denuded of hair.
8. Pseudotuberculosis – this is a bacterial disease frequently carried by rats and mice. Symptoms are very variable. It may caused by the contamination of food by affected vermin, by introducing a carrier animal or by the use of secondhand infected equipment.
These notes on some of the common diseases of rabbits provided examples of the interaction of poor managers and disease. To control an outbreak of disease and prevent further occurrence it is necessary to establish a correct diagnosis.
Commercial Rabbit Production
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, London, 1985
Rabbit Raising Brochures
Dr. Vito F. del Fierro, Jr., Deputy Exec. Director, LDC
DA Library Clippings
By pinoyfarmer | August 12, 2007
The water buffalo is an animal resource whose potential seems to have been barely recognized or examined outside of Asia. Throughout the world there are proponents and enthusiasts for the various breeds of cattle; the water buffalo, however, is not a cow and it has been neglected. Nevertheless, this symbol of Asian life and endurance has performed notably well in recent trials in such diverse places as the United States, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Brazil. In Italy and Egypt as well as Bulgaria and other Balkan states the water buffalo has been an important part of animal husbandry for centuries. In each of these places certain herds of water buffalo appear to have equaled or surpassed the local cattle in growth, environmental tolerance, health, and the production of meat and calves.
Although these are empirical observations lacking painstaking, detailed experimentation, they do seem to indicate that the water buffalo could become an important resource in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate zones in developing and developed countries.
If this is the case, then it is clear that many countries should begin water buffalo research. Serious attention by scientists could help dispel the misperceptions and uncertainties surrounding the animal and encourage its true qualities to emerge.
This report describes the water buffalo’s attributes as perceived by several animal scientists. It is designed to present the apparent strengths of buffaloes compared with those of cattle, to introduce researchers and administrators to the animal’s potential, and to identify priorities for buffalo research and testing.
The panel that produced this report met at Gainesville, Florida, in July 1979. It was composed of leading water buffalo experts (particularly those from outside Asia who have directed the beginnings of water buffalo industries in their countries) and leading American animal scientists, many of whom are also familiar with the animal.
This report complements The Husbandry and Health of the Domestic Buffalo, edited by W. Ross Cockrill and published in 1974 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Cockrill’s 933-page book is a “bible” of water buffalo knowledge and provides details of breeds, world distribution, physiology, and an extensive bibliography.
The present report is an introduction to the water buffalo and its potential. It is written particularly for decision makers, as well as scholars or students, in the hope that it will stimulate their interest in the animal and thereby increase the appreciation of, and funding for, buffalo research. The report includes much empirical observation, largely from the panel members. Some of these observations may, in the long run, prove not to be universally applicable. Much benchmark information needs to be obtained.
Since its creation in 1971, the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation (ACTI) has investigated innovative ways to use current technology and resources to help developing countries. Often this has meant taking a fresh look at some neglected and unappreciated plant or animal species. The committee assembles ad hoc panels of experts (usually incorporating both skeptics and proponents) to scrutinize the topics selected. The panel reports serve to draw attention to neglected, but promising, technologies and resources. (For a list of ACTI reports, see page 115.) ACTI reports are provided free to developing countries under funding by the Agency for International Development (AID).
Program costs for this study were provided by AID’S Office of Agriculture, Development Support Bureau, and staff support was provided by the Office of Science and Technology, Development Support Bureau.
The domesticated water buffalo Bubalus bubalis numbers at least 130 million-one-ninth the number of cattle in the world. It is estimated that between 1961 and 1981 the world’s buffalo population increased by 11 percent, keeping pace with the percentage increase in the cattle population.
Although there are some pedigreed water buffaloes, most are nondescript animals that have not been selected or bred for productivity. There are two general types-the Swamp buffalo and the River buffalo.
Swamp buffaloes are slate gray, droopy necked, and ox-like, with massive backswept horns that make them favorite subjects for postcards and wooden statuettes in the Far East. They are found from the Philippines to as far west as India. They wallow in any water or mud puddle they can find or make. Primarily employed as a work animal, the Swamp buffalo is also used for meat but almost never for milk production.
River buffaloes are found farther west, from India to Egypt and Europe. Usually black or dark gray, with tightly coiled or drooping straight horns, they prefer to wallow in clean water. River buffaloes produce much more milk than Swamp buffaloes. They are the dairy type of water buffalo. In India, River buffaloes play an important role in the rural economy as suppliers of milk and draft power. River buffaloes make up about 35 percent of India’s milk animals (other than goats) but produce almost 70 percent of its milk. Buffalo butterfat is the major source of cooking oil (ghee) in some Asian countries, including India and Pakistan.
Although water buffaloes are bovine creatures that somewhat resemble cattle, they are genetically further removed from cattle than are the North American bison (improperly called buffalo) whose massive forequarters, shaggy mane, and small hindquarters are unlike those of cattle. While bison can be bred with cattle to produce hybrids,( This is not, however, very successful, the male progeny (at least of the F 1 generation) are sterile).there is no well-documented case of a mating between water buffalo and cattle that has produced progeny.
Parts of Asia and even Europe have depended on water buffaloes for centuries. Their crescent horns, coarse skin, wide muzzles, and low-carried heads are represented on seals struck 5,000 years ago in the Indus Valley, suggesting that the animal had already been domesticated in the area that is now India and Pakistan. Although buffaloes were in use in China 4,000 years ago, they are not mentioned in the literature or seen in the art of the ancient Egyptians, Romans, or Greeks, to whom they were apparently unknown. It was not until about 600 A.D. that Arabs brought the animal from Mesopotamia and began moving it westward into the Near East (modern Syria, Israel, and Turkey). Water buffaloes were later introduced to Europe by pilgrims and crusaders returning from the Holy Land in the Middle Ages. In Italy buffaloes adapted to the area of the Pontine Marshes southeast of Rome and the area south of Naples. They also became established in Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Bulgaria and have remained there ever since.
Villagers in medieval Egypt adopted the water buffalo, which has since become the most important domestic animal in modern Egypt. Indeed, during the last 50 years, their buffalo population has doubled to over 2 million head. The animals now supply Egypt with more meat-much of it in the form of tender “veal”-than any other domestic animal. They also provide milk, cooking oil, and cheese.
Other areas have capitalized on the water buffalo’s promise only in very recent times. For instance, small lots of the animals brought to Brazil (from Italy, India, and elsewhere) during the last 84 years have reproduced so well that they now total about 400,000 head and are still increasing, especially in the lower Amazon region. Buffalo meat and milk are now sold widely in Amazon towns and villages; the meat sells for the same price as beef. Nearby countries have also become familiar with the water buffalo. Trinidad imported several breeds from India between 1905 and 1908, while Venezuela, Colombia, and Guyana have been importing them in recent decades. During the 1970s Costa Rica, Ecuador, Cayenne, Panama, Suriname, and Guyana introduced small herds. By 1979 the buffalo in Venezuela numbered more than 7,000 head.
Across the Pacific, the new nation of Papua New Guinea has found the water buffalo well suited to its difficult environment. For 9 years the government has attempted to run cattle on the Sepik and Ramu Plains on Papua New Guinea’s north coast, where the temperatures are high and the forage of poor quality. But the cattle remain thin and underweight. In the 1960s animal scientists began evaluating water buffaloes already living in Papua New Guinea and, encouraged by the results, introduced additional buffaloes from Australia. These have performed remarkably well, producing greater numbers of calves and much more meat than the cattle in the region. The buffaloes appear to maintain appetite despite the heat and humidity, whereas cattle do not. The government of Papua New Guinea has since imported more water buffaloes and today has thriving herds totaling almost 3,500 head.
The United States has been slow to recognize the water buffalo’s potential, but the first herd (50 head) ever imported for commercial farming arrived in February 1978.(Air-freighted from the wilds of Guam, the U.S. island possession on the western Pacific, by panel member Tony Leonards. Prior to that time (in 1974), four head of water buffalo were imported to the Department of Animal science’ university of Florida, for study. The only other water buffaloes in North America were a few animals in zoos.) The humble water buffalo, normally considered fit only for the steamy rice fields of Asia, is now proving itself on farm fields in Florida and Louisiana. As a result, interest in the animal is on the rise in U.S. university and farm circles.
From experience accumulated in Asia, Egypt, South America, Papua New Guinea, Australia, the United States, and elsewhere, animal scientists now perceive that many general impressions about the water buffalo are incorrect.
For example, it is widely believed that the water buffalo is mean and vicious. Encyclopedias reinforce this perception, and in the Western world it is the prevalent impression of the animal. The truth is, however, that unless wounded or severely stressed, the domesticated water buffalo is one of the gentlest of all farm animals. Despite an intimidating appearance, it is more like a household pet-sociable, gentle, and serene. In rural Asia the care of water buffaloes is often fumed over to small boys and girls aged about four to nine. The children spend their days with their family’s gentle buffalo, riding it to water, washing it down, waiting while it rolls and wallows, and then riding it to some source of forage, perhaps a grassy field or thicket. It is not uncommon to see a buffalo patiently feeding, with a young friend stretched prone on its broad gray back, asleep.
Perhaps the notion about the viciousness of water buffaloes stems from confusing them with the mean-tempered African buffalo Syncerus caffer, actually a distant relative with which they will not interbreed and which is classified in a different genus.
Ferocity is the most blatant misconception concerning the water buffalo, although other fallacies are widely reported as well.
One generally held belief is that water buffaloes can be raised only near water. Actually, buffaloes love to wallow, but they grow and reproduce normally without it, although in hot climates they must have shade available.
Another belief is that the water buffalo is exclusively a tropical animal. River-type buffaloes, however, have been used to pull snow plows during Bulgarian winters. They are found in Italy (over 100,000 head), Albania, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, the Georgia and Azerbaijan areas of the Soviet Union (almost 500,000 head) and other temperate-zone regions as well. They are also found in cold, mountainous areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal.
Yet another misconception is that the water buffalo is just a poor man’s beast of burden. In addition to providing fine lean meat, buffaloes in fact provide rich milk. Mozzarella cheese, one of the most popular in Europe, comes from the buffaloes in Italy. Buffalo milk has a higher content of both butterfat and nonfat solids than cow’s milk does. It therefore often brings higher prices than cow’s milk. Throughout much of India it is in such demand that cow’s milk is sometimes hard to sell.
Many of the misconceptions generally held about buffaloes are based on little data and much prejudice. For instance, it is widely believed that water buffalo meat is tough and less desirable than beef. However, when the animals are raised for meat, buffalo steaks are lean, as tender as beef, and in appearance it is difficult to distinguish the two. In taste-preference tests at the University of Queensland, buffalo steaks were preferred over those from Angus and Hereford cattle. Tests conducted in Trinidad, Venezuela, the United States, and Malaysia produced similar results.
Australia has shipped water buffalo meat to Hong Kong, the United States, Germany, and Scandinavia. Buffalo meat is now available in stores in Australia’s Northern Territory, where demand exceeds supply. It sells at competitive prices and is particularly sought for barbecues and the famous Australian meat pie. In the Philippines, two-thirds of the meat consumed in homes and restaurants is actually water buffalo, a fact that many Filipinos do not realize.
Compared with cattle, waterbuffaloes apparently have an efficient digestive system, one which extracts nourishment from forage so coarse and poor that cattle do not thrive on it. Thin cattle are commonly seen in Asia and northern Australia, for example, but it’s rare to see a protruding rib on a buffalo, even though it uses the same source of feed.
In Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, water buffaloes live on coarse vegetation on the marginal land traditionally left to the peasants. They help make human survival possible. An old Chinese woman in Taiwan once told panelist W. Ross Cockrill: “To my family the buffalo is more important than I am. When I die, they’ll weep for me; but if our buffalo dies, they may starve.”
A better understanding of the water buffalo could be invaluable to many developing nations. In particular, improved production of water buffalo meat offers hope for helping feed India, the second most populous nation on earth. Although India for religious reasons forbids the slaughter of cows, it has no prohibitions regarding slaughter of water buffaloes or the consumption of buffalo meat.
Most developing countries are in the tropics, and the water buffalo is inherently a tropical animal. It is comfortable in hot, humid environments. In the Amazon, for example, buffaloes are now common on the landscape and may even replace cattle completely.
Tropical countries have more serious disease problems than temperate countries do. Although susceptible to most cattle diseases, the water buffalo seems to resist ticks and often appears to be more resistant to some of the most devastating plagues that make cattle raising risky, difficult, and sometimes impossible in the tropics. Several researchers report that when water buffaloes are allowed to wallow, their mud-coated skin seems to deter insect and tick ectoparasites and they consequently require greatly reduced treatment with insecticides. Although the buffalo fly (Siphona exigua) affects the animals, other pests such as the warble fly and the screwworm, for example, seldom affect healthy buffaloes. Also, despite their inclination for living in swamps, Avers, and ponds, diseases of the feet such as foot rot and foot abscesses are rare.
Another benefit to developing countries is the water buffalo’s legendary strength. A large part of the total farm power available in South China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Indochina states, India, and Pakistan comes from this “living tractor.” Dependable and docile, the animals pull plows, harrows, and carts with loads that weigh several tons. In the Amazon buffalo teams pull boats laden with cargo and tourists through shallows and swamps.
The petroleum crisis has forced many farmers to reconsider animal power even in some of the technically advanced countries. Buffaloes are not only extraordinarily strong, they can also work in deep mud that may bog down a tractor. Even up to their bellies they forge on, dragging both plow and driver through the mud. Although its average walking speed is only about 3 kilometers per hour, the buffalo, unlike its mechanical competition, doesn’t need gasoline or spare parts and its working life is often 20 years or more.
As already noted, the major genetic divisions of the water buffalo are the Swamp buffalo of the eastern half of Asia, which has swept-back horns, and the River buffalo of the western half of Asia, which usually has curled horns. There is also the Mediterranean buffalo, which is of the River type but has been isolated for so long that it has developed some unique characteristics. (Records of the buffalo in Italy date back 1,000 years, during which there have been no reported imports.) Mediterranean buffaloes are stocky, high yielding animals that combine both beef and dairy characteristics.
Although there is only one breed of Swamp buffalo, certain subgroups seem to have specific inherited characteristics. For example, the buffaloes of Thailand are noted for their large size, averaging 450-550 kg, and weights of up to 1,000 kg have been observed. Elsewhere, Swamp buffaloes range from 250 kg for some small animals in China to 300 kg in Burma and 500-600 kg in Laos.
Only in India and Pakistan are there well-defined breeds with standard qualities. There are eighteen River buffalo breeds in South Asia, which are further classified into five major groups designated as the Murrah, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Central Indian, and South Indian breeds. These are the five groups and main breeds:
|Murrah||Murrah, Nili/Ravi, Kundi|
|Gujarat||Surti, Mehsana, Jafarabadi|
|Uttar Pradesh||Bhadawari, Tarai|
|Central Indian||Nagpuri, Pandharpun, Manda, Jerangi, Kalahandi, Sambalpur|
|South Indian||Toda, South Kanara|
The best-known breeds are Murrah, Nili/Ravl, Jafarabadi, Surti, Mehsana, and Nagpuri. Most of the buffaloes of the Indian subcontinent belong to a nondescript group known as the Desi buffalo. There is no controlled breeding among these animals and most are quite small, yield little milk, and are variable in color.
The Swamp buffalo has 48 chromosomes, the River buffalo, 50. The chromosomal material is, however, similar in the two types and they crossbreed to produce fertile hybrid progeny. Cattle, however, have 60 chromosomes and although mating between cattle and buffaloes is common, hybrids from the union are unlikely to occur.( In 1965 a reputed hybrid was born at Askaniya Nova Zoopark in the Soviet Union (see Gray, A., 1971. Mammalian Hybrids, Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, Slough, England, p. 126). Hybrids have also been reported from China (Van Fu-Czao 1959, Gibridy buivolc i krupnogo i rogatogo skota(buffalo and cattlehybrids)Zhivotnovodstro, Mosk., 21:92). Both of these reports seem doubtful because despite many attempts, no other hybrids have ever been claimed to have been produced).
Individual buffaloes show large variation in milk yield, conformation, horn shape, color, meat production, temperament, growth rate, and other characteristics. Selection for survival under adverse conditions has occurred naturally (those that could not stand adversity died early) and farmers have probably tended to select animals of gentle temperament. But systematic genetic improvement has almost never been attempted. It seems likely that further selection could quickly improve their productivity.
Unfortunately, the large bulls that would be best for breeding purposes are often being selected as draft animals and castrated, or sent to slaughter, or (as with some feral animals in northern Australia and on the Amazon island of Marajo) shot by hunters. The result is that the buffalo’s overall size in countries such as Thailand and Indonesia has been decreasing as the genes for large size and fast growth are lost.
The buffalo is still largely an animal of the village, and many of its reported limitations are caused more by its environment than by the animal itself. Moreover, much of the animal’s genetic potential is obscured by environmental influences. For example, for many breeds and types the genetic variations in milk yield and growth cannot be accurately determined because they are overwhelmed by the effects of inadequate nutrition and management.
Nevertheless, some inherent limitations of buffaloes can be identified. For instance, buffaloes suffer if forced to remain, even for a few hours, in direct sunlight. They have only one-tenth the density of sweat glands of cattle and their coating of hair is correspondingly sparse, providing little protection from the sun. Accordingly, buffaloes must not be driven over long distances in the heat of the day. They must be allowed time for watering and, if possible, for wallowing. Driving under a hot sun for long hours will cause heat exhaustion and possibly death; losses can be very high and can occur suddenly. Young calves are particularly affected by heat.
Buffaloes are also sensitive to extreme cold and seem less able than cattle to adapt to truly cold climates(A rule of thumb is that buffaloes don’t do well where the sun is inadequate to ripen, say, cotton, grapes, or Ace. Kaleff, B., 1942. Der Hausbuffel und seine Zuchtungsbiologie im Vergleich zum Rind. Zeitschsift Tierzucht Biologze, 51:131-178). Sudden drops in temperature and chill winds may lead to pneumonia and death.
The water buffalo is usually found m areas where there is ready access to a wallow or shower. This is not a necessity, but when temperatures are high the availability of water is important for maintaining buffalo health and productivity. It seems clear, then, that the buffalo is not suitable for arid lands.
Increasing buffalo productivity through breed improvement is just now beginning. Throughout Asia buffalo mating is almost completely haphazard, and so the animal lacks the quality improvement through breeding that most cattle have had. Therefore, most buffaloes are of nondescript heritage and genetic potential.
On poor quality feed water buffalo grow at least as well as cattle, but under intensive conditions they probably won’t grow as fast as the best breeds of cattle. In feedlots, therefore, the buffalo is likely to be less productive than improved cattle. Weight gains of about 1 kg per day have been recorded, some exceptional cattle may gain at almost twice that rate.
The buffalo has long been considered a poor breeder-slow to mature sexually, and slow to rebreed after calving. Accumulated experience now shows, however, that this is mainly a result of poor management and nutrition. Buffaloes are not sluggish breeders. Nevertheless, their gestation period is about a month longer than that of cows, buffalo estrus is difficult to detect, and many matings occur at night so that farmers are likely to encounter more problems breeding buffaloes than cattle.
Buffaloes are gentle creatures, but if roughly or inexpertly handled they can, through fear or pain, become completely unmanageable. Buffalo behavior sometimes differs from that of cattle. For example, most buffaloes are not trained to be driven. Instead, the herdsman must walk alongside or ahead of them; they then instinctively follow. Also, because of their innate attachment to an individual site or herd it is more difficult to move buffaloes to new locations or herds. In addition, buffaloes respect fences less than cattle do and when they have the desire to move they are harder to contain. (Electric fences, however, will stop them.)
Despite their general good health, buffaloes are probably as susceptible as cattle to most infections. However, the buffalo seems to be peculiarly sensitive to a few cattle diseases and resistant to a few others (see chapter 7). Reactions to some diseases seem to vary with region, environment, and breed, and the differences are not well understood.
Destruction of the environment is sometimes attributed to buffalo wallowing. This danger seems to have been overstated, except in cases where stocking rates were unreasonably high.(An ongoing study in Northern Australia of environmental degradation widely attributed to buffalo has now shown that the effects are caused by man and climatic changes and only very slightly by buffaloes. (information supplied by D. G. Tulloch.) ) However, buffaloes rub against trees more often than cattle do, and they sometimes de-bark the trees, causing them to die.
Unfortunately, some of the best genetic stocks of water buffaloes exist in areas where certain infections and viral and other diseases sometimes occur. Thus, many countries are reluctant to permit importation of water buffaloes, despite the fact that modern quarantine procedures under conditions of maximum security can essentially eliminate the risk.
Finally, it must be emphasized that because buffalo research has been largely neglected, most results reported in this and other buffalo writings cover small numbers of animals and short periods of time. Many are merely empirical observations that have not been subjected to independent confirmation.
The water buffalo offers promise as a major source of meat, and the production of buffaloes solely for meat is now expanding.
Because buffaloes have been used as draft animals for centuries, they have evolved with exceptional muscular development, some weigh 1,000 kg or more. Until recently, however, little thought was given to using them exclusively for meat production. Most buffalo meat was, and still is, derived from old animals slaughtered at the end of their productive life as work or milk animals. As a result, much of the buffalo meat sold is of poor quality. But when buffaloes are properly reared and fed, their meat is tender and palatable.
Water buffaloes are exported for slaughter from India and Pakistan to the Middle East and from Thailand and Australia to Hong Kong. Demand for meat is so great that Thailand’s buffalo population has dropped from 7 million to 5.7 million head in the last 20 years, a period in which the human population has more than doubled.
All buffalo breeds-even the milking ones-produce heavy animals whose carcass characteristics are similar to those of cattle.
Despite heavier hide and head, the amount of useful meat (dressing percentage) from buffaloes is almost the same as in cattle. Mediterranean type buffalo and Zebu cattle steers in Brazil yielded dressing percentages of 55.5 and 56.6 percent respectively. Swamp buffalo dressing percentages have been measured in Australia at 53 percent.
Buffaloes are lean animals. Although a layer of subcutaneous fat covers the carcass, it is usually thinner than that on comparably fed cattle. Even animals that appear to be fat prove to be largely muscle. Australian research on Swamp buffaloes reveals that buffaloes with more than 25 percent fat are difficult to produce, whereas average choice-grade beef carcasses may contain
In general, the buffalo carcass has rounder ribs, a higher proportion of muscle, and a lower proportion of bone and fat than beef has.
Buffalo hide is so thick that it can be sliced into two or three layers before tanning into leather.
Buffalo meat and beef are basically similar. The muscle pH (5.4), shrinkage on chilling (2 percent), moisture (76.6 percent), protein (19 percent), and ash (1 percent) are all about the same in buffalo meat and beef. Buffalo fat, however, is always white and buffalo meat is darker in color than beef because of more pigmentation or less intramuscular fat (2-3 percent “marbling,” compared with the 3-4 percent in beef).
Taste-panel tests and tenderness measurements conducted by research teams in a number of countries have shown that the meat of the water buffalo is as acceptable as that of cattle. Buffalo steaks have rated higher than beefsteaks in some taste tests in Australia, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Trinidad.
In taste-panel studies in Trinidad, cooked joints from three carcasses Trinidad buffalo, a crossbred steer (Jamaica-Red/Sahiwal), and an imported carcass of a top-grade European beef steer-were served. The 28 diners all had experience in beef production, butchery, or catering and were not told the sources of the various joints. All the carcasses were held in cold storage for one week before cooking. The buffalo meat was rated highest by 14 judges; 7 chose the European beef; 5 thought the crossbred beef the best; and 2 said that the buffalo and crossbred were equal to or better than the European beef. The buffalo meat received most points for color (both meat and fat), taste, and general acceptability. There was little difference noted in texture.( Information supplied by P. N. Wilson.)
Buffalo veal is considered a delicacy. Calves are usually slaughtered for veal between 3 and 4 weeks of age; dressed weight is 59-66 percent of live weight.
There is some evidence that buffaloes may retain meat tenderness to a more advanced age than cattle because the connective tissue hardens at a later age or because the diameter of muscle fibers in the buffalo increases more slowly than in cattle(Joksimonc, 1979) In one test the tenderness (measured by shearing force) of muscle samples from carcasses of buffalo steers 16-30 months old was the same as that from feedlot Angus, Hereford, and Friesian steers 12-18 months old. This gives farmers more flexibility in meeting fluctuating markets while still providing tender meat.
More than 5 percent of the world’s milk comes from water buffaloes. Buffalo milk is used in much the same way as cow’s milk. It is high in fat and total solids, which gives it a rich flavor. Many people prefer it to cow’s milk and are willing to pay more for it. In Egypt, for example, the severe mortality rate among buffalo calves is due in part to the sale of buffalo milk, which is in high demand, thus depriving calves of proper nourishment. This also occurs in India, where in the Bombay area alone an estimated 10,000 newborn calves starve to death each year through lack of milk. The demand for buffalo milk in India (about 60 percent of the milk consumed; over 80 percent in some states) is reflected in the prices paid for a liter of milk: about 130 paisa for cow’s milk compared with about 200 paisa for buffalo milk.
Twelve of the 18 major breeds of water buffalo are kept primarily for milk production (although males may be used for traction and all animals are eventually used for meat). The main milk breeds of India and Pakistan are the Murrah, Nili/Ravi, Surti, Mehsana, Nagpuri, and Jafarabadi. The buffaloes of Egypt, Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, and the USSR), and Italy are used for milk production and there are also herds used principally for this purpose in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.
Buffalo milk contains less water, more total solids, more fat, slightly more lactose, and more protein than cow’s milk. It seems thicker than cow’s milk because it generally contains more than 16 percent total solids compared with 12-14 percent for cow’s milk. In addition, its fat content is usually 50-60 percent higher (or more) than that of cow’s milk. Although the butterfat content is usually 6-8 percent,( An analysis of 7,770 records of Nili/Ravi buffaloes in herds at the Pakistan Research Institute showed that average butterfat content was 6.40 (a mean based on 10 tests over 10 months). of all the samples tested, 77 percent ranged between 5 and 8 percent butterfat and 12 percent were below 5 percent butterfat. -information supplied by R. E. McDowell.) it can go much higher in the milk of some well fed dairy buffaloes and in the milk of Swamp buffaloes (which are not normally used for milking). Cow’s milk butterfat content is usually between 3 and 5 percent.
Because of its high butterfat content, buffalo milk has considerably higher energy value than cow’s milk. Phospholipids are lower but cholesterol and saturated fatty acids are higher in buffalo milk. Studies have shown that digestibility is not adversely affected by this. Because of the high fat content, the buffalo’s total fat yield per lactation compares favorably with that of improved breeds of dairy cattle; it is much higher than that of indigenous cows.
Normally the protein in buffalo milk contains more casein and slightly more albumin and globulin than cow’s milk. Several researchers have claimed that the biological value of buffalo milk protein is higher than that of cow’s milk, but this has not yet been proved conclusively.
Tables 1 and 2
The mineral content of buffalo milk is nearly the same as that of cow’s milk except for phosphorus, which occurs in roughly twice the amount in buffalo milk. Buffalo milk tends to be lower in salt.
Buffalo milk lacks the yellow pigment carotene, precursor for vitamin A, and its whiteness is frequently used to differentiate it from cow’s milk in the market. Despite the absence of carotene, the vitamin A content in buffalo milk is almost as high as that of cow’s milk. (Apparently the buffalo converts the carotene in its diet to vitamin A. The two milks are similar in B complex vitamins and vitamin C, but buffalo milk tends to be lower in riboflavin.)
Buffalo milk, like cow’s milk, can provide a wide variety of products: butter, butter oil (clarified butter or ghee), soft and hard cheeses, condensed or evaporated milks, ice cream, yogurt, and buttermilk. It is of great economic importance in India in preparing “toned” milk-a mixture of buffalo milk and milk made by reconstituting skim milk powder.
The richness of buffalo milk makes it highly suitable for processing. To produce 1 kg of cheese, a cheese maker requires 8 kg of cow’s milk but only 5 kg of buffalo milk. To produce 1 kg of butter requires 14 kg of cow’s milk but only 10 kg of buffalo milk. Because of these high yields, processors appreciate the value of buffalo milk.
Buffalo cheese is pure white. It many countries it is among the most desirable cheeses (mozzarella and ricotta in Italy, gemir in Iraq, the salty cheeses of Egypt, and pecorino in Bulgaria, for example). In Venezuela all the cheese produced from the small La Guanota milking herd in the Apure River basin (about 100 kg a day) is bought by the Hilton Hotel and sells for 15 bolivars per kg compared with 8 bolivars per kg for cheese made from cow’s milk.
Although much in demand for making soft cheese, buffalo milk is less desirable for making hard cheeses such as cheddar or gouda. During cheesemaking it produces acid more slowly than cow’s milk, retains more water in the curd, and loses more fat in the whey.
Cheeses are becoming increasingly popular throughout the world. Demand is rising at a rate that is among the highest for any food product. Cheese offers particular benefit to areas where refrigeration is not widely available, where transporting high-protein foods to remote areas is difficult, and where seasonal fluctuations affect milk supplies. Buffalo milk may make cheesemaking profitable on an even smaller scale than conventional dairying; it is more concentrated than cow’s milk and requires relatively less energy to transport and process (an increasingly important factor where fuels are limited).
Table 3 Highest Milk Yield (kg per Day) Recorded in the All India Milk Yield
In countries like India and Egypt, the milk yield of buffaloes is generally higher (680-800 kg) than for local cattle (360-500 kg). However, since selection for exceptional milk production is not conducted systematically, large variations in yield occur between individual animals, and milk production of dairy buffaloes falls short of its potential.
Nonetheless, some outstanding yields have been recorded. On Indian government farms, average yields for milking buffaloes range from 4 to 7 kg per day in lactations averaging 285 days. Daily yields of 12 kg have been reported for some Bulgarian buffalo cows and a daily production of over 20 kg has been reported for some remarkable animals in India. A peak milk yield of 31.5 kg in a day has been recorded from a champion Murrah buffalo in the All India Milk Yield Competition conducted by the Government of India (see Table 3).
At Caserta, Italy, a herd of 1,600 machine-milked, pedigreed dairy buffaloes has produced average yields of 1,500 kg during lactations of 270 days. In Pakistan an analysis of over 6,000 lactations of Nili/Ravi buffalo cows showed an average yield of 1,925 kg during lactations averaging 282 days(Average adjusted for year and season and calving. Cady et al., in press.) . In India the average milks yield of Murrah buffaloes in established herds is also reported to be about 1,800kg(*”Williamson and Payne, 1965.)Table 4 lists some outstanding lactation yields reported from different parts of the world.
As with cattle, the percentages of fat, protein, and total solids decrease as the milks yield increases.
The Swamp buffaloes of Southeast Asia are usually considered poor milk producers. They are used mainly as draft animals, but it may be that their milk potential has been underestimated. In the Philippines Swamp buffalo cows with nursing calves have produced 300-800 kg of milk during lactation periods of 180-300 days(*Philippines Council for Agriculture and Resources Research (PCARR). 1978. The Philippines Recommends for Caraboo Production, PCARR, Los Banos, Philippines)In Thailand Swamp buffaloes selected and reared for milk production have yielded 3-5 kg per day during 305-day lactations.(Information supplied by Charan Chantalakhana.)
Table 4 Milk Production of Some Outstading Buffalo Cows and Dairy Herds
The Nanning Livestock Research Institute and Farm in Kwangsi Province,which is representative of many others in South China, is upgrading the native Swamp buffaloes (or Shui Niu) by selective breeding for size and weight and by crossbreeding with dairy breeds such as the Murrah and Nili/Ravi. The crossbreeds that are milked yield 4-5 kg daily.(*CockriH, W. R. 1976. The Buffaloes of China. FAO, Rome.)
The characteristics of the dairy buffalo so closely approximate those of the dairy cow that successful methods of breeding, husbandry, and feeding for milks production for the cow can be applied equally to the dairy buffalo. Buffaloes, however, have not been bred for uniform udders and it is more difficult to milk them by machine.(Some thousands of buffaloes are machine milked in Bulgaria and Italy, however. At Ain Shams University in Egypt, buffaloes have adapted to machine milking. The calves are separated from their dams immediately after birth and no problems of milk letdown have been observed. -information supplied by M. El Ashry.)Also, some buffaloes have more of a problem with milks letdown than dairy cows (although not as much of a problem as some native cattle breeds in the tropics). Frequently, a calf is kept with the cow and is tied to her foreleg at milking time. In India, Burma, and other countries a dummy calf may be provided; playing music seems to work, too.
The Water Buffalo: New Prospects for an Underutilized Animal (BOSTID, 1981, 111 p.)
By pinoyfarmer | August 12, 2007
The water buffalo is the classic work animal of Asia, an integral part of that continent’s traditional village farming structure. Probably the most adaptable and versatile of all work animals, it is widely used to plow; level land; plant crops; puddle rice fields; cultivate field crops; pump water; haul carts, sleds, and shallow-draft boats; carry people; thresh grain; press sugar cane; haul logs; and much more. Even today, water buffaloes provide 20-30 percent of the farm power in South China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indochina(Figures provided by A. J. de veer. In India water buffaloes contribute much less to farm power (6-12 percent); bullocks are more commonly used. In Pakistan buffaloes are little used for farm power (1-2 percent) but provide much of the road haulage. Papua New Guinea has no tradition of using any work animal, but villagers are increasingly using buffaloes for farm work and the government is employing Fillipinos to train them) . Millions of peasants in the Far East, Middle East, and Near East have a draft buffalo. For them it is often the only method of farming food crops.
As fuel becomes scarce and expensive in these countries, the buffalo is being used more frequently as a draft animal. In 1979 water buffalo prices soared in rural Thailand because of the increased demand.
Although Asian farms have increasingly mechanized in the last 20 years, it has often proved difficult to persuade the farmer to replace his buffalo with a tractor since the buffalo produces free fertilizer and does not require diesel fuel. Now there is renewed official interest in draft power. Sri Lanka has recently opened up large new tracts of farmland in the Mahawali Valley, creating such a demand for work animals that buffalo shortages have become a national development problem. Indonesia’s transmigration schemes are also handicapped by shortages of animal power.
For many small farmers the buffalo represents capital. It is often the major investment they have. Buffalo energy increases their productivity and allows them to diversify. Even small farms have work animals that, like the farmer himself, subsist off the farm. Tractors usually require at least four hectares for economical operation, which precludes their use on most peasant farms. Further, the infrastructure to maintain machinery is often not readily available.
Buffaloes are also used for hauling. Buffalo-drawn carts carry goods between villages where road surfaces are unfit for trucks. The animals easily traverse ravines, streams, paddies, and narrow and rocky trails. In the cities carts can compete economically with trucks where the road surface is unprepared, where loading or unloading takes longer than the journey itself, or where the loads are too small and distances too short to make trucking economical. For road haulage buffaloes are generally shod: the shoes are flat plates fitted to each hoof.
Capacity for Work
The water buffalo is a sturdy draft animal Its body structure, especially the distribution of body weight over the feet and legs, is an important advantage. Its large boxy hooves allow it to move in the soft mud of rice fields. Moreover, the buffalo has very flexible pastern and fetlock joints in the lower leg so that it can bend back its hooves and step over obstacles more easily than cattle. This water-loving animal is particularly well adapted to paddy farming because its legs withstand continual wet conditions better than mules or oxen(Australian animal scientists working in Bogor, Indonesia, found that the puddling effect of buffalo hooves on the soil was critical for rice cultivation in the local soils. Tractors produced fields so porous that they drained dry. (Information supplied by A. F. GurnettSmith.) On one research station near Darwin, Australia, buffaloes were used to prevent water draining from a dam. (Information supplied by D. G. Tulloch.).
Although buffaloes are preferred by farmers in the wet, often muddy lowlands of Asia, mules, horses, and cattle move more rapidly and are preferred in the dryer areas.
Water buffaloes do not work quickly. They plod along at about 3 km per hour. In most parts of Southeast Asia they are worked about 5 hours a day and they may take 6-10 days to plow, harrow, and grade one hectare of rice field. Their stamina and drawing power increase with body weight.
Because they have difficulty keeping cool in hot, humid weather (see next chapter), it is necessary to let working buffaloes cool off, preferably in a wallow, every 2 hours or so. Without this their body temperatures may rise to dangerous levels.
A pair of 3-year-old buffaloes costs about the same as a small tractor in Thailand. But many farmers raise their own calves and there is no investment beyond labor. The “fuel” for the animals comes mainly from village pastures and farm wastes such as crop stubble and sugarcane tops. Buffaloes have an average working life of about 11 years, but some work to age 20.
The yoke used on working buffalo in Asia has changed very little in the last 1,500 years. It is doubtful that a working buffalo can exert its full power with it. The hard wooden yoke presses on a very small area on top of the animal’s neck, producing severe calluses, galls, and obvious discomfort. The harness tends to choke the animal as the straps under the neck tighten into the windpipe. Since the traditional hitch is usually higher than the buffalo’s low center of gravity, the animal cannot pull efficiently. Considerably more pulling power and endurance can be obtained by improving the harness. The situation is not unlike that in Western agriculture in the twelfth century when the horse collar-one of the most important inventions of the Middle Ages first appeared. Before that, horses were yoked like buffalo and the harness passed across their windpipes and choked them as they pulled. Use of the horse collar improved pulling efficiency and speeded the development of transportation and trade.
The curved yoke now universally used on water buffalo contacts an area of the neck that is only about 200 cm2 (little more than half the size of this page). The entire load is pulled on this small area and causes the wood to dig into the flesh.
A horse collar is a padded leather device that encircles the animal’s neck. One modified in Thailand for use on water buffalo (see page 43) had a contact area of 650 cm2, more than three times that of the yoke it replaced. The collar’s padding pressed against the animal’s shoulders, not its neck, and therefore did not choke it. Attached to the collar were wooden harnes with the traces for hitching the animal to a wagon or plow. In trials a buffalo pulled loads 24 percent heavier with the collar than with the yoke, and the horsepower it developed increased by 48 percent(These trials were conducted by J. K. Garner in Thailand in 1958. In the maximum-load test the yoked buffalo failed to move a load of 570 kg, but it moved a load of 640 kg when fitted with the horse collar. In an endurance test the yoked animal took 35 minutes to pull a load 550 m, but harnessed with the collar it took only 21 minutes).
Another potentially valuable harness is the breast strap, a set of broad leather straps that pass over the animal’s neck and back. One breast strap modified for water buffalo use had a contact area of 620 cm2, almost as much as that of the horse collar, and in trials the buffalo pulled a load 12 percent heavier than with a yoke and the horsepower it developed increased by almost 70 percent( The same animal used in the horse collar trials pulled 700 kg with the breast strap, in the endurance test it took 18.5 minutes to travel the 550-m distance).
These seem very good innovations. In the humid tropics, however, leather collars and breast straps may decay rapidly. To make them widely practical may require experimentation with, or development of, special leather treatments or more durable materials.
While the buffalo is remarkably versatile, it has less physiological adaptation to extremes of heat and cold than the various breeds of cattle. Body temperatures of buffaloes are actually lower than those of cattle, but buffalo skin is usually black and heat absorbent and only sparsely protected by hair. Also, buffalo skin has one-sixth the density of sweat glands that cattle skin has, so buffaloes dissipate heat poorly by sweating. If worked or driven excessively in the hot sun, a buffalo’s body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and general discomfort increase more quickly than those of cattle(Failure to appreciate this has caused many buffalo deaths in northern Australia when the animals were herded long distances through the heat of the day as if they were cattle).. This is particularly true of young calves and pregnant females. During one trial in Egypt 2 hours’ exposure to sun caused temperatures of buffalo to rise 1.3°C, whereas temperatures of cattle rose only 0.2-0.3°C.
Buffaloes prefer to cool off in a wallow rather than seek shade. They may wallow for up to 5 hours a day when temperatures and humidity are high. Immersed in water or mud, chewing with half-closed eyes, buffaloes are a picture of bliss.
In shade or in a wallow buffaloes cool off quickly, perhaps because a black skin rich in blood vessels conducts and radiates heat efficiently (Tests at the University of Florida have shown that buffaloes in the shade cool off more quickly than cattle. -Robey, 1976). Nonetheless, wallowing is not essential. Experience in Australia, Trinidad, Florida, Malaysia, and elsewhere has shown that buffaloes grow normally without wallowing as long as adequate shade is available.
Although generally associated with the humid tropics, buffaloes, as already noted, have been reared for centuries in temperate countries such as Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and in the Azerbaijan and Georgian republics of the USSR. In 1807 Napoleon brought Italian buffaloes to the Landes region of southwest France and released them near Mont-deMarsan. They became feral and multiplied prodigiously in the woods and dunes of the littoral, but unfortunately the local peasants found them easy targets, and with the fall of Napoleon the whole herd was killed for meat(In the twelfth century Benedictine monks introduced buffaloes from their possessions in the Orient to work the lands of their abbey at Auge in northeastern France. In the thirteenth century a herd was introduced to England by the Earl of Cornwall, the brother of Henry III. Nothing is known about how well either herd survived). Buffaloes are also maintained on the high, snowy plateaus of Turkey as well as in Afghanistan and the northern mountains of Pakistan.
The buffalo has greater tolerance of cold weather than is commonly supposed. The current range of the buffalo extends as far north as 45° latitude in Romania and the sizable herds in Italy and the Soviet Union range over 40° N latitude(Philadelphia and Peking are at comparable latitudes. In the Southern Hemisphere the 40° line of latitude easily encompasses Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and most of New Zealand’s North Island). Cold winds and rapid drops in temperatures, however, appear to have caused illness, pneumonia, and sometimes death. Most of the animals in Europe are of the Mediterranean breed, but other River-type buffaloes (mainly Murrahs from India) have been introduced to Bulgaria and the Soviet Union, which indicates that River breeds, at least, have some cold tolerance.
Although water buffaloes are generally reared at low elevations, a herd of Swamp buffaloes is thriving at Kandep in Papua New Guinea, 2,500 m above sea level. And in Nepal, River buffaloes are routinely found at or above 2,800 m altitude.
Water buffaloes are well adapted to swamps and to areas subject to flooding. They are at home in the marshes of southern Iraq and of the Amazon, the tidal plains near Darwin, Australia, the Pontine Marshes in south-central Italy, the Orinoco Basin of Venezuela, and other areas.
In the Amazon, buffaloes (Mediterranean and Swamp breeds) are demonstrating their exceptional adaptability to flood areas. Buffalo productivity outstrips that of cattle, with males reaching 400 kg in 30 months on a diet of native grasses( Information supplied by C. Nascimento).
The advantage of water buffaloes over Holstein, Brown Swiss, and Criollo cattle was demonstrated in a test at Delta Amacuro, Venezuela, when the cattle developed serious foot rot In the wet conditions of the Orinoco Delta and had to be withdrawn from the test. The area of Venezuela is flooded 6 months of the year and creates constant problems for cattle, yet the buffalo seems to adapt well(*Information supplied by A. Ferrer).
High humidities seem to affect buffaloes less than cattle. In fact, if shade or wallows are available, buffaloes may be superior to cattle in humid areas.
In southern Brazil, trials comparing buffalo and cattle on subtropical riverine plains have favored the buffalo also. This work is being carried out on native pastures, mostly in the State of Sao Paulo.
Most buffaloes are located in countries where land, cultivated forage crops, and pastures are limited. Livestock must feed on poor-quality forages, sometimes supplemented with a little green fodder or byproducts from food, grain, and oil seed processing. Usually feedstuffs are in such short supply that few animals have a balanced diet, but the buffalo seems to perform fairly well under such adverse conditions.
Insufficient measurements have been taken to allow unequivocal state. meets about the relative growth rates of cattle and buffaloes. However, many observations made in various parts of the world indicate that the buffalo’s growth is seldom inferior to that of cattle breeds found in the same environments. Some observations are given below.
· Trials in Trinidad in the early 1960s involved buffaloes grazing pangola grass (Digitaria decumbens) together with Brahman and Jamaican Red cattle. Over a period of 20 months the buffaloes gained an average of 0.72 kg per day, whereas the cattle on a comparable nearby pasture gained 0.63 per day(Experiments performed by P. N. Wilson. -Information supplied by S. P. Bennett.).
· In the Orinoco Delta of Venezuela unselected Criollo/Zebu crossbred cattle gained 0-0.2 kg per day on Paspalum fasciculatum, whereas the water buffaloes with them gained 0.25-0.4 kg per day(Cunha et al., 1975).
· In the Apure Valley of Venezuela, 100 buffalo steers studied in 1979 reached an average weight of 508 kg in 30 months, whereas the 30-month old Zebu steers tested with them weighed 320 kg. The feed consumed was a blend of native grasses (25 percent of the diet) and improved grasses (such as pangola, pare, and guinea grass)( Information supplied by A. Ferrer). In the same valley 200 buffalo heifers (air freighted from Australia) produced weight gains averaging 0.5 kg per day over a 2-year period (and 72 percent of them calved). Government statistics for the area record average weight gains in crossbreeds between Zebu and Criollo cattle as 0.28 kg per day (with 40 percent calving).
· In the Philippines, buffaloes showed weight gains of 0.75-1.25 kg per day, the same as those of cattle.
· Daily weight gains of over 1 kg have been recorded for buffaloes in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
· Liveweight gains of 0.80 kg per day have been recorded for buffaloes in Papua New Guinea. In a very humid, swampy area of the Sepik River coastal plains liveweight gains by males averaged 0.47 kg per day and females 0.43 kg per day for more than a year. The average weight of 30 4-year-old female buffaloes was 375 kg, while the average weight of 4-year-old female Brahman/ Shorthorn crossbred cattle was 320 kg.
· At the research station near Belem in the Brazilian Amazon weaned Murrah buffaloes, pastured continuously on Echinochloa pyramidalis (a nutritious grass), gained 0.8 kg daily and reached 450 kg in about 18 months.
· Liveweight gains of 0.74-l.i kg per day have been obtained in Australia. Buffalo steers grew as fast or faster than crossbred Brahman cattle on several improved pastures near Darwin, but on one very poor pasture, 40-year-old buffaloes each weighed only 400 kg, whereas the Brahman crossbred steers reared with them weighed 500 kg. The reason for this is not clear.
Efficiency of Digestion
Indian animal nutritionists have investigated water buffaloes intensively over the past two decades. Many have reported that buffaloes digest feeds more efficiently than do cattle, particularly when feeds are of poor quality and are high in cellulose.One trial revealed that the digestibility of wheat straw cellulose was 24.3 percent for cattle and 30.7 percent for buffalo. The figures for berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum) cellulose were 34.6 percent for cattle and 52.2 percent for buffalo. In another trial the digestion of straw fiber was 64.7 percent in cattle, 79.8 percent in buffalo.
Other nutrients reported to be more highly digested in buffaloes than in cattle (Zebu) are crude fat, calcium and phosphorus, and nonprotein nitrogen.
Recent experiments in India suggest that buffaloes also are able to utilize nitrogen more efficiently than cattle. Buffaloes digested less crude protein than cattle in one trial but increased their body nitrogen more (and they were being fed only 40 percent of the recommended daily intake of crude protein).
The ability of buffaloes to digest fiber efficiently may be partly due to the microorganisms in their rumen. Several Indian research teams have published data indicating that the microbes in the buffalo rumen convert feed into energy more efficiently than do those in cattle (as measured by the rate of production of volatile fatty acids in the rumen).
Also, in laboratory studies samples of buffalo rumen contents produced volatile fatty acids more quickly from a variety of animal feedstuffs than did samples from the rumen of cattle
No single reason alone explains the buffalo’s success in using poor quality forages. Rather, it is a combination of reasons that differ with the breed and conditions used. Studies by other researchers suggest that additional causes might include:
· Higher dry matter intake;
· Longer retention of feed in digestive tract;
· Ruminal characteristics more favorable to ammonia-nitrogen utilization;
· Less depression of cellulose digestion by soluble carbohydrates (e.g., starch or molasses);
· Superior ability to handle stressful environment; and
· A wider range of grazing preferences.
Calf Growth Rates
Although the buffalo’s gestation period is more than a month longer than that of cattle, the calves are born weighing 35-40 kg, or about the same as that of a newborn Holstein calf. But because buffalo milk has about twice the butterfat of cow’s milk, the calves grow very quickly. They also suffer more shock at weaning and have to be slowly changed to their new feeding program. Buffaloes can be marketed as full-grown animals for beef at the age of 2-3 years, sometimes even earlier.
Table 5 Some Coarse Grasses and Forages Palatable to Buffaloes but Less Readily
For example, in Indonesia it has been found that buffalo steers can be marketed 6 months before Zebu steers because they may be 100 kg heavier. In Egypt some buffalo calves given feed supplemented with concentrates weighed 360 kg at 1 year of age. At Ain Shams University near Cairo, buffalo calves weaned at 7-14 days of age gained 0.7 kg per day from weaning to slaughter at 18 months of age and weighed 400 kg. Rice straw comprised 50 percent of the finishing diet.
Buffaloes on Italian farms have reached 350 kg in 15-18 months and some year-old calves weighed 320 kg.
Grazing trials on native pasture (with mineral supplementation) in the Brazilian Amazon indicate that buffalo calves grew faster than cattle. At 2 years of age Mediterranean-type buffaloes averaged 369 kg, Swamp type, 322 kg, and Jafarabadi type, 308 kg. The Zebu cattle tested with them averaged 265 kg and the crossbred Zebu/Charolais, 282 kg.
Buffaloes graze a wider range of plants than cattle. During floods near Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon when cattle become marooned on small patches of high ground, many suffer from foot rot and many starve to death. Their buffalo companions on the other hand-bodies sleek and full-swim out to islands of floating aquatic plants and eat them, treading water. Also, they dive almost 2 m to graze beneath the floodwaters.
University of Florida buffaloes in a lakefront voluntarily consumed vines, sedges, rushes, floating aquatic weeds, and the leaves and shoots of willows and other trees along the water’s edge. Few of these plants are voluntarily grazed by cattle. In northern Australia water buffaloes graze the very pickily leaves of pandanus; they also graze sedges, reeds, floating grass, and aquatic weeds. Hungry buffaloes will eat bark, twigs, and other unpalatable vegetation.
Because of the variety of their tastes they have been used in northern Queensland, Australia, to clear pastures of woody weeds left untouched by cattle. In some countries cattle are used to graze the palatable tops of pasture plants and are followed by buffaloes to graze the less desirable lower parts.
When compared with other domestic livestock, the water buffalo generally is a healthy animal. This is particularly impressive because most of them live in hot, humid regions that are conducive to disease, and the buffalo is a bovine susceptible to most diseases and parasites that afflict cattle. Although the reasons are not specifically known, the effect of disease on the buffalo and its productivity is often less deleterious than on cattle.
Antibiotics and vaccines developed for cattle work equally well on buffaloes. As a result, treatments are available for most of the serious diseases of buffaloes, although some are not very effective for either animal.
The greatest buffalo losses are often among calves. Newborn buffalo calves, like bovine calves, can succumb in large numbers to viruses, bacteria, and poor nutrition. This is largely due to poor management during the calf’s first 2 months of life. For example, as noted previously, villagers in some countries often sell the valuable buffalo milk, thus depriving the calves.
Buffalo calf losses are often similar to those of the cattle around them, but the animal’s proclivity for wallowing exposes calves to waterborne diseases. Further, a young one occasionally drowns when an adult rolls on top of it.
Reactions to some specific diseases and parasites are discussed below.
Pasteurellosis- Probably the water buffalo’s most serious disease, pasteurellosis, or hemorrhagic septicemia, is caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida (P. septica). Buffaloes are more susceptible to it than cattle and die in large numbers where pasteurellosis occurs. A vaccine against pasteurellosis is effective in protecting both buffaloes and cattle; it is cheap and easily made.
Tuberculosis- Despite some claims to the contrary, the water buffalo is susceptible to the bovine strain of tuberculosis (Alycobacterium bovis). Scattered reports from different parts of India indicate no difference in the incidence of infection between cattle and buffaloes(Information supplied by S. K. Misra, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab, India). Other strains of mycobacteria have been isolated from feral buffaloes and cattle in northern Australia but seem to have little effect on the animals. Tuberculosis occurs among the buffalo herds of the world only because most are kept under unsanitary conditions(In 1905 buffaloes were introduced to Trinidad because the cattle herds (Zebu and srahman breeds) were infected with tuberculosis and, in those days, it was thought that buffaloes were resistant to the disease. Most were housed in muddy, ill-kept pens and forced to eat sugarcane tops off the ground; consequently, in 1949 over 30 percent of the buffaloes reacted to the tuberculin test. (The cattle herds had 80 percent reactors.) Tuberculosis was eliminated in Trinidad’s buffaloes by improving the sanitary conditions: installing concrete floors and mangers and cleaning the pens regularly. This, together with regular tuberculin testing and removal of reactors, led to such a dramatic improvement that buffalo tuberculosis is now virtually unknown. -Information supplied by S. K. Bennett.)
Brucellosis-Buffaloes and cattle are equally susceptible to brucellosis. Although seldom reported as a problem elsewhere, brucellosis in Venezuela is increasing more rapidly among buffaloes than among cattle. In India the disease is no more prevalent among buffaloes than among cattle. As many as 57 percent of some Venezuelan herds are infected with the disease. It is a frequent cause of abortion in buffaloes. Serologic procedures and measures developed for the control of the disease in cattle are also effective means of curbing this infection in buffaloes. (Consumption of raw milk or contact with aborted fetuses may cause undulant fever in humans.)
Mastitis- Among milking buffaloes mastitis is a problem as it is in dairy cows, but to a lesser extent. It is likely to increase, however, as the milk production per individual buffalo is increased. The bacteria that cause mastitis in the buffalo are similar to those in cattle. Treatment and control programs used for cattle are equally effective for buffaloes.
Other Diseases -Among the epizootic diseases, rinderpest and piroplasmosis seem to affect buffaloes as much as cattle. Foot-and-mouth disease also affects buffaloes, but to a lesser degree than cattle, producing smaller lesions and having a lower incidence. In northern Australia buffaloes deliberately infected with bovine pleuropneumonia bacteria exhibited slight fever, but the disease never appeared. No naturally occurring eases have been reported in buffaloes.
Ticks -Buffaloes are notably resistant, although not immune, to ticks. In a tick-infested area of northern Australia only 2 engorged female ticks were found on 13 adult buffaloes during a 2-year test. Accordingly, healthy buffaloes are not commonly affected by diseases borne by ticks nor are the hides damaged by their bites. Since ticks are rarely found on buffaloes, anaplasmosis, theileriasis, and babesiosis, which are tick-borne, have little effect on buffaloes in the field. (Buffaloes and cattle are equally susceptible, however, if inoculated with East Coast fever, a form of theileriasis.) This is important because tick infestations in cattle are particularly troublesome in the tropics and the pesticides used to control them are becoming ineffective as the ticks develop resistance. The pesticides are also becoming expensive.
The basis of the buffalo’s tick resistance is not known, but wallowing and rubbing may play a role in it; animals kept in experimental concrete pens in Australia have developed heavy tick infestation. (rials carried out on Magnetic Island by R. H. V/harton, Commonwealth Scientiflc and Industrial Research Organisation, Townsville, Queensland, Australia).
Table 6 Some Infections and Parasites of Buffalo
Screwworm- Larvae of the screwworm fly (Callitroge species), a major pest of livestock in Central and South America and some other tropical areas, do not affect adult water buffalo. In Venezuelan areas where cattle (Zebu type) are severely infested, adult water buffaloes are virtually free of screwworm larvae and the umbilicus of newborn calves seldom if ever becomes infected. ( Information supplied by A. Ferrer).
The same is true in Papua New Guinea. It is thought that the mud plaster produced by wallowing suffocates the larvae, but in India screwworms do not affect water buffaloes either, and there they wallow in fairly clear water and the farmer usually washes them off.
Roundworm- The heavy losses of young buffalo calves throughout the world are caused, in large measure, by the roundworm Toxocara vitulorum. The calves seem more susceptible than mature animals and they become infected before birth or within 24 hours after birth through the mother’s colostrum. The roundworm is the most serious buffalo parasite and in untreated calves the small intestine can get packed with worms to the point of complete occlusion. Although huge numbers of calves die each year, anthelmintic drugs that control roundworms are highly effective and widely available.
The adult water buffalo appears to have a high degree of resistance to strongyloid nematodes. Being such excellent converters of rough fodders they do not suffer the nutritional deficiency and the resulting liability to these roundworms experienced seasonally by cattle.
Liver Fluke- During wallowing, water buffaloes can easily become infected with the waterborne infective stages of liver fluke (Fasciola gigantica). Although the number of flukes in a buffalo may be phenomenally high, no clinical signs of the disease are usually evident. It seems likely that the resulting liver damage reduces the growth and the work and milk production of buffaloes more than is generally appreciated.
Trypanosomiasis- The water buffalo is susceptible to trypanosomiasis and is reportedly more susceptible than cattle to Trypanosoma evansi.Experience with the animal in Africa is limited, but trypanosomiasis may be the reason why Egypt is the only African country that has traditionally employed water buffalo.
Other Parasites- The wallow and its resulting mud cake seem to protect water buffalo from many biting flies, but the main ectoparasite in Australia and Southeast Asia is the buffalo fly (Siphona spp.). Pediculosis, caused by the sucking louse (Hematopinus tuberculatus), occurs widely among buffalo, and sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei var. bubalus) is a serious disease, especially among calves and during dry seasons when wallowing opportunities are restricted. The lung worm Dictyocaulus ririparus thrives in warm, humid areas and sometimes infects buffaloes heavily, although its outward manifestations are rare.
The Water Buffalo: New Prospects for an Underutilized Animal (BOSTID, 1981, 111 p.)
By pinoyfarmer | August 12, 2007
The water buffalo has a reputation for being a sluggish breeder, but the average animal is so poorly fed that its reproductive performance is unrepresentative of its capabilities. Without reasonable nutrition the animals cannot reach puberty as early in life or reproduce as regularly as their physiology or genetic capability would normally allow.
Actually, adequately nourished buffaloes reach puberty at about the same age as cattle, as early as 18 months of age in buffalo bulls. In northern Australia Swamp females have conceived even as early as 14 months of age and feral buffaloes routinely conceive at 16 months of age. In the herd at Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, India, 11 River buffalo heifers showed estrus at ages less than 18.5 months and a few came into heat when less than 15 months old.
The water buffalo also can calve at an age comparable to that of cattle. At the Ain Shams University in Egypt a well-fed Egyptian buffalo herd of several hundred animals has an average age at first calving of 27 months, 22 days(Information supplied by M. El Ashry. Because of nutritional uncertainties, El Ashry and his colleagues believe that body weight is a better indicator of sexual preparedness than age is. These researchers at Ain Shams University recommend mating heifers when they weigh 365 kg no matter what their age. Research at Punjab Agricultural University shows that buffalo heifers can be bred when they weigh over 270 kg and manifest estrus).Most animals in the Punjab Agricultural University River buffalo herd calved before 35 months, one at 28.3 months.! In one Venezuelan herd almost all heifers 20-24 months old were pregnant; virtually all calved before age 38 months, most by 30 months, and one at age 23 months.
In trials in Queensland, Australia, and in Papua New Guinea buffaloes produced more calves over a 3-year period than the cattle tested with them. In the hot, humid Sepik Plains in northern Papua New Guinea it was noticed that female buffaloes (Swamp breed) came into estrus even while they were losing weight because of inadequate nutrition, whereas cattle did not. Under these stressful conditions the buffalo calves also reached sexual maturity earlier and the buffaloes had a higher calving percentage and a shorter calving interval because they came back into estrus more quickly than cattle(Information supplied by J. Schottler. The age at first calving of more than 60 nutritionally poor buffaloes was 38 months in one herd and 45 months for Brahman cross cattle) . Similar observations have been made in Florida, Trinidad, the Brazilian Amazon, Venezuela, and elsewhere. Although these are exceptions to the normal observations in Asia, where buffaloes seem to breed more slowly than cattle, they do demonstrate the buffalo’s potential for improved breeding.
Estrus in buffalo cows usually lasts about 24 hours, but duration varies and may range from 11 to 72 hours. It occurs on an average 21-day cycle. Determination of when a cow is in estrus is difficult because often the animal shows few outward signs of “heat.” This increases the chances of missing a cycle, especially for artificial insemination. Unclean surroundings, poor nutrition, and poor management, cause a high death rate among calves; this also contributes to the buffalo’s often low reproductive rate.
In many areas, calving is seasonal. This seems to be largely due to changes in nutrition. It may also be caused by heat stress, in either males or females, which results in a low breeding rate during the hot season. However, when buffalo cows are well fed, they come into estrus and will breed in any season.
Many matings take place at night and are therefore unobserved. In one set of pregnancy diagnoses in northern Australia, the buffalo’s conception rate (81 percent) was higher than that of the Brahman crossbreeds (70 percent) they were with. In India, artificial insemination of water buffaloes began in the late 1950s. Deep-frozen semen is now available and its use is spreading. Overall conception rates of 70-80 percent are obtained. It is estimated that some 100,000 buffaloes are now being artificially inseminated.
The water buffalo’s gestation period is about one month longer and is more variable than that of cattle. Whereas cattle give birth after about 280 days (Angus, 279, Holstein, 279-280, Brown Swiss, 286), buffaloes take 300334 days (average 310) or roughly 10 months and 10 days (differences between breeds are unknown). In Punjab, India, River buffaloes have been observed to come into estrus as early as 40 days after calving.
Nonetheless, only under uncommon circumstances can a buffalo cow produce a calf each year. In one herd of 800 cows in Venezuela the average female buffalo over age 4 produces 2 calves every 3 years. In response to a recent questionnaire, the majority of Indonesian farmers estimated that the calving rate was between 3 and 4 calves in 5 years. A few claimed a calf a year, some only 1 or 2 calves In 5 years. In Florida it has been noted that some buffalo cows having just calved became pregnant more quickly than cattle, so that a calf may indeed be produced each year. Regular yearly breeding has been noted also in northern Australia.
The incidence of abortion, dystocia, retained placenta, and other parturition problems in buffaloes is similar to that in cattle. Twinning is very rare; probably no more than 0.01 percent of buffalo pregnancies produce twins.
Preliminary results in northern Australia indicate that weaning can be carried out as late as 12 months of age without any effect on conception time of the buffalo dam.
Water buffaloes are adaptable and are managed in many ways. In general, they are raised like cattle. But in some operations they must be handled differently. This chapter highlights these differences.
Millions of water buffaloes are managed in “backyards” in Asia. They exist on the resources of small holdings. Management and expenditures are minimal. Care of the family buffalo is usually entrusted to children, old people, or women not engaged in other farm duties; the buffalo allows them to be useful and productive.
The buffalo fits the resources available on the farm, but it is also an urban animal. Thousands of herds of 2-20 buffaloes may be found in the cities and towns of India, Pakistan, and Egypt-all fed, managed, and milked in the streets.
In addition, the buffalo has important qualities as a feedlot animal; it can be herded and handled with relative ease because of its placid nature. The Anand Cooperative in India’s Gujarat State, which daily contributes thousands of gallons of milk to Operation Flood (the world’s largest nutrition project), involves more than 150,000 Surti buffaloes that are fed, managed, and milked by their owners under feedlot-like conditions in their villages. Many of Italy’s 100,000 buffaloes are maintained under similar conditions.
Water buffaloes can also be managed on rangelands. In Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad, the United States, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere there is rising interest in raising buffalo beef on the range. The production practices for raising them are similar to those used for range cattle.
Water buffaloes in the humid tropics must be able to cool off. Shade trees are desirable, and although a wallow is not essential, it is probably the most effective way the animal has of coping with heat. Alternatively, water showers may be provided to wet down the animals 3-5 times during the hottest part of the day.
Water buffaloes are intelligent animals. Young ones learn patterns quickly and often are reluctant to change their habits. Feral animals-even those born in the wild-tame down after a week or two in a fenced enclosure to the point where many can be handled, haltered, and hand fed (In one example, 100 feral buffalo were captured in Northern Territory, Australia. With in 14 days all the animals-males and females, young and old-had become docile and amenable to handling. -Information supplied by D. G. Tulloch) . Among feral herds of northern Australia it has been observed that buffaloes have clans and families. A female calf seems to remain with its family and mother for many years (possibly for life). A male calf stays until it is about 2 years old, when it is driven from the group by an adult bull.
It has also been noted in northern Australia that free-ranging buffaloes instinctively select clean water areas to drink from, other areas to wallow in, and still others as “toilet areas.” In addition, China’s buffaloes reportedly are being “toilet trained” to defecate only at specific sites to avoid contaminating waterways with schistosome eggs.
Another interesting observation from northern Australia is that most buffalo dams readily adopt a calf that has been orphaned by the death of its mother. In fact, females will allow several calves to nurse (including calves of other mothers and sometimes even adults).
Buffaloes are also self-reliant. For several months each year in Vietnam and Malaysia, for instance, they are turned loose in the forests to fend for themselves.
Provision of adequate fencing is one of the great problems of buffalo management. The animals have strong survival instincts and if feed runs short, such as in the dry season, they will break through fences that would deter cattle who would remain and starve. They will also break through fences if their family unit is split up. Barriers must be stronger than those used for cattle and the wires closer together and lower to the ground because buffaloes lift fences up with their horns rather than trample them down. In northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Costa Rica it has been found that buffaloes are particularly sensitive to electric fences (a single wire is all that is needed), and in Brazil a special suspension fence has been devised (Moura Carvalho et al., 1979). Both of these seem to be cheap and efficient answers to the fencing problem.
Water buffaloes are easily handled from horseback and easily worked through a corral. Actually, because of their docility they can be mustered on foot, even on ranges where cattle require horses. Unless they come from different areas they tend to herd together and can be mustered like sheep.
One of the major management adjustments to be made by cattlemen is understanding and capitalizing on the buffalo’s placid nature. Buffaloes are naturally timid and startle easily; they must be handled quietly and calmly. Rough handling, wild riding, and loud shouting make handling them more difficult and training them much harder.
Village buffaloes are led and managed by a ring threaded through the septum between the nostrils. The technique is frequently applied crudely and cruelly, often resulting in a ripped septum.
The identification of individual buffaloes is difficult. Fire brands do not remain legible on the skin for long. Cryobranding (freeze branding) is more durable. Most types of ear tags are not very successful; the numbers wear off and mud covers up the tag’s color. In northern Australia ear tattooing has been the most successful identification technique, with tattoos remaining legible for at least 8 years(Between 1958 and 1962 hundreds of Australian buffalo were shipped on the hoof to the meat markets in Hong Kong without trouble, despite crowded shipboard conditions and the long sea voyage. But in 1962 one roughly treated bull went berserk in Hong Kong and killed a handler, and the Hong Kong authorities stopped the trade as a result, although the problem was really one of mismanagement. Buffalo have since been sent by air from Australia to Venezuela, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea and by barge to Papua New Guinea. No handling problems have been experienced en route). When they pasture together, cattle and buffaloes coexist satisfactorily. They segregate themselves into their own groups and do not interfere with one another. The buffaloes, however, usually dominate the cattle and tend to monopolize the areas with the best feed supply.
Feed troughs and mineral boxes used for cattle are suitable for buffaloes, but chutes and crushes must be widened to accommodate the buffalo’s broader body and, when necessary, the Swamp buffalo’s greater horn spread.
Water buffaloes are powerful swimmers. In Brazil they have been known to escape by swimming down the Amazon River. An unusual management difficulty is caused by piranha in the rivers and swamps of Venezuela. In one herd of 100 heifer buffaloes, 40 have lost all or part of a teat to these voracious fish.
The horns of water buffaloes are seldom removed or prevented from growing, a testament to the animal’s docility. (When questioned, one Thai villager said that he wouldn’t allow it because it would be a disgrace to the buffalo.) However, the animals can be dehorned as calves in the same manner as cattle. They are then easier to handle In chutes and cause less accidental injury to neighboring animals, handlers, walls, and trees.
The grazing and wallowing habits of water buffaloes may have unexpected consequences when the animals are introduced to new, perhaps fragile environments. The presence of several thousand feral buffaloes on the coastal plains of northern Australia, for example, has become a very emotional issue among Australian environmentalists, some of whom foretell the complete destruction of the environment if the uncontrolled feral herds are not destroyed( It is not at all clear, however, that the buffaloes (which have existed in the area for 150 years) are causing the observed environmental degradation. Other possibilities include: fire, climatic stress, overgrazing, and a variety of farming, hunting, and other human activities, especially the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles. Thousands of wild pigs also share the area, along with crayfish that burrow into and weaken the levees that keep out the sea, something for which the buffaloes have been blamed).
Water buffaloes have larger hooves than cattle of comparable size and thus they compact the soil less. But buffaloes often live in damp, boggy areas where their feet may compact soft soils. Also, buffaloes are creatures of habit and, when able, they set up fixed points for drinking, feeding, defecating, wallowing, and sleeping. Between the points they wear sharply defined trails in the vegetation and soil.
Possibly the water buffalo’s greatest environmental limitation is its propensity to build wallows. In hot climates every buffalo will wallow at some time during the heat of the day if water is available. When they can, buffaloes will make their own wallows, enlarging a mud puddle by rolling in it or even using their heads to flip water out of a drinking trough and muddying the ground nearby.
The pasture in the immediate area of the wallow is usually damaged by trampling and waterholes may become fouled, but buffaloes return to the same wallow day after day and do not build new ones indiscriminately. Thus, the muddied area is not a large proportion of the location in which they graze unless a large number of animals are confined in a small space(At Gainesville, Florida (possibly because of its subtropical but not hot climate), a herd of 52 buffaloes concentrated in a one-hectare field did not attempt to build a wallow at ale -Information supplied by H. Popenoe.) . In addition, man-made wallows can be dug at safe sites and the animals will use them. The problem of wallowing is therefore not generally a serious one.
Damage to Waterways
Because buffaloes often live near and enter water freely, they may cause erosion in ditches, river banks, canals, and levees. Also, their wallowing muddies the water, which may adversely affect some fish species and reduce the growth of algae. Buffaloes commonly urinate and defecate in the water, possibly creating a pollution hazard, although in most situations this contamination is likely to be minor.
The presence of this herbivore in natural waterways may reduce the number of water plants. Some plants are trampled, some eaten, and some underwater species are suppressed because the muddied water transmits less light. This (and several other of the buffalo’s environmental effects) can be turned to advantage (see picture page 85) when, as often occurs, aquatic plants grow out of control and become obnoxious weeds.
Damage to Pastures
Water buffaloes have very strong jaws, and when forage is sparse they graze it close to the ground; this overgrazing can destroy a pasture. In addition, they eat virtually all available plant material (including many species that cattle shun), so that a densely stocked pasture can become completely defoliated. In northern Australia it has been found that, with time, buffaloes become accustomed to a given pasture, and unless fences are strong they will instinctively return to it until the forage has been depleted.
The buffalo’s inclination to eat many plants can be used to improve the environment and suppress growth of coarse weedy species of plants. On the Sepik Plains in Papua New Guinea buffaloes are being used to graze and suppress sedges (Cyperus species), as a result, the more desirable Paspalum species are beginning to appear. At Mount Bundy in northern Australia native pastures are being improved on a commercial scale by overstocking them with buffaloes. The animals reduce or completely eliminate spear grass and other weeds-even those with thorns-and thus foster the survival and growth of introduced forage legumes such as stylo (Stylosanthes guianensis). In Sri Lanka buffaloes have been used to graze out the vigorous tropical grass Imperata cylindrica.
Damage to Trees
Buffaloes instinctively rub against trees (and walls and fences), eagerly browse leaves, and sometimes nibble bark, so they damage trees more so than cattle. In northern Australia it has been noted that each “family herd” of feral buffaloes selects one or two trees for rubbing against so that the rubbing damage is confined to them.
Recommendations and Research Needs
This report has outlined the water buffalo’s apparent merits, but most of the statements made about the animal are based on empirical observations. Many of its most exciting and potentially valuable features have not been subjected to the careful scrutiny needed to confirm their validity.
Despite the fact that there are 130 million or more water buffalo in the world, research on the animal is scanty and limited to only a few situations and sites. Quantitative information (especially for the various breeds), tests, trials, and comparison studies are needed.
The research to be done on the water buffalo offers scientific challenges that can be undertaken in laboratories and experiment stations in most parts of the world and in many disciplines: breeding, physiology, microbiology, veterinary science, nutrition, food science, dairy science, and other fields. Water buffalo research is an area worthy of financial support by philanthropic institutions and international development agencies concerned with problems of food and resource shortages. The dominant role of the buffalo in the rural economies of Egypt and Asian countries offers the opportunity for buffalo research that can bring improvements quickly and easily to the rural poor. For other countries the water buffalo is an untapped resource, and they should test its productivity on native pasturelands, marshy lowlands, hot and humid areas where cattle do not thrive, and on areas prone to cattle diseases and parasites that are difficult to control.
Specific recommendations follow.
Comparison with Cattle
Animal scientists worldwide should undertake trials to compare growth rate, feeding, nutrition, breeding, and other aspects of buffalo and cattle performance.
Cattle and water buffaloes are obviously different animals. Each has its own limitations and advantages, and each deserves to be studied in its own right. Perhaps the quickest way for animal scientists to experience for themselves the merits of the water buffalo is to conduct their own comparative trials with buffaloes and cattle in their areas. The results will provide local guidance and will help extend recognition of the buffalo’s value, especially under difficult conditions where it may exceed cattle in productivity and profitability.
Germ Plasm Preservation
Urgent action is needed, especially in Southeast Asia, to preserve and protect outstanding buffalo specimens.
In some countries (Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, for example) buffalo populations are decreasing dramatically. High demands for meat are causing slaughter at younger and younger ages. Much of the meat is exported to restaurants and markets in Singapore and Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the largest and quickest growing animals are often selected for slaughter. This results in the loss of a major genetic resource, which is compounded by the practice of castrating the largest males to make them more tractable as work animals. Ten years ago in Thailand it was common to find buffalo weighing 1,000 kg; now it is hard to find 750-kg specimens. A similar situation exists in the Philippines where there is no dearth of good breeding stock, but butchers are paying such high prices that farmers are selling even quality animals for slaughter. In northern Australia, where some of the bulls weigh almost 1,200 kg, the largest animals are being shot for meat, hides, pet food, or sportsmen’s trophies,
A large number of high-yielding buffaloes are taken each year to big cities in India (for example, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras) for milking. At the end of lactation many are returned to the villages, but many others are slaughtered, rather than being fed and retired. This creates a huge loss of valuable germ plasm. In many locations most of the largest animals have already been lost. Only urgent action will protect those remaining.
Buffalo quarantine stations should be organized in “disease-free” areas to develop buffalo germ plasm pools for international exchange.
The importation of buffaloes presents difficulties for any government, researcher, or farmer wishing to obtain the animals for the first time or for breeding purposes. Quarantine laws make it extremely difficult and expensive to exchange genetic resources.
Australia is one of the few nations where there are large numbers of water buffalo in an area free of the major animal diseases. Papua New Guinea,Nigeria, Colombia, Venezuela, and other nations have taken advantage of this and have imported Australian buffaloes. But Australian herds are all Swamp buffaloes(The island of Guam is also a safe source of Swamp animals, although the feral herds there are depleted, only 300 or 400 animals were left on Guam in 1978) and so breeding centers should be set up also (in Sri Lanka and Italy perhaps) where importers can obtain River-type (including Mediterranean) buffaloes.
Worldwide efforts should be made to select superior buffalo bulls and cows for breeding.
Performance testing, leading to the mass selection of superior animals, deserves high priority. Virtually all buffalo breeding is haphazard and unplanned. Village animals graze together and matings are usually not con” trolled, observed, or recorded. Thus, the full genetic potential of the water buffalo is not being realized.
A massive selection program is needed to bring about genetic progress. For each breed, bulls and cows with the potential for improving production of meat and milk and increasing draft power should be identified and used for breed improvement. However, the wide variations between the characteristics of individual animals may make exceptional genetic advances difficult to achieve quickly.
Important traits for culling and selection include behavior, temperament, reproduction rate, easy milk letdown, average daily gain in weight or weight at a given age, carcass quality (for example, large hindquarters), and milk production, as well as strength and endurance for work.
Crossbreeding of Swamp and River buffaloes is a potentially important route to genetic improvement. The progeny reportedly show hybrid vigor (heterosis) in milking ability, fertility, meat production, and working ability. Infusing genes for high milk production into the Swamp buffalo, now used mainly for meat and work, creates the potential for a triple-purpose animal.
The use of artificial insemination and deep-frozen semen should be a major help in upgrading the buffalo. Moreover, the transport of live embryos (rather than neonatal animals) for implantation in the uterus of surrogate mothers could be important for water buffalo. It seems unlikely, however, that buffalo embryos can be implanted in cattle.
Most genetic selections should be made in Asia where 97 percent of the world’s water buffaloes are located. The improvements will depend on how accurately bulls can be identified, selected, and mated. Performance and progeny testing is sorely needed at research stations as well as “on the farm.” Governments should also institute bull-loan or artificial-insemination programs as a means for upgrading the village herds.
Comparison of Breeds
The relative merits of the various buffalo breeds should be determined,
Little or no information is available on the comparative performance of the different buffalo breeds in various environments, especially the 17 or so River breeds in the Subcontinent and the Egyptian and Mediterranean breeds. Comparison trials of the breeds and breed-crosses are needed in a wide range of climates from the humid tropical to the temperate. In addition, the cytogenetic, immunogenetic, and inheritance relationships of breeds should be clarified.
The panel encourages countries such as India and Pakistan that have a number of buffalo breeds (for example, Murrah, Surti, Jafarabadi, Mehsana, and Nili/Ravi) to set up experimental farms for scientific reproduction of superior specimens. Substantial research benefits as well as profitable economic returns from using and exporting some of them would be realized.
Meat and Milk Research
Research and demonstration is needed to foster the widespread consumption of buffalo meat and milk.
Buffalo milk, cheese, and other dairy products are considered outstanding foods in all locations where they are produced. Taste tests so far have indicated that buffalo meat is similar or slightly superior to beef produced under the same conditions.
A specific need is to feed the male calves and use them for meat. Many are now slaughtered at a young age and light weight. Research that provides either a partial or complete milk substitute for feeding calves would have a major impact on meat supplies and farmer income. Diets being developed for calves in Egypt incorporate such ingredients as whey, soybean meal, corn flour (corn starch), and yeast.
Other research topics include:
· The effect of climate, thermoregulation, and wallowing on meat and milk production;
· The meat characteristics of each of the breeds and the differences between them,
· Milk production and quality for each of the breeds;
· Adapting buffaloes to machine milking by genetic selection or by designing new milking machinery;
· Developing new or improved milk products (such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and hard cheese); and
· Banking genetically superior germ plasm for later use.
The panel recommends research on new harnesses to replace the omnipresent yoke.
As already noted, the wooden yoke, which has not changed in 1,500 years or more, is an inefficient harness. Research is needed to adapt horse collars, hames, breast straps, and other devices for the buffalo. Because much of the farm power in Asia comes from buffaloes, the impact of improved harness could be dramatic, widespread, and of enormous value to millions of small farmers there. If the experiments in Thailand described earlier are an indication, the farm power in Asia could be increased by 25 percent overnight with the adoption of an improved harness. The buffalo will continue to be the small farmer’s “tractor,” so the benefits from improved harnesses are likely to continue for a long time.
There are 13 million buffalo and bullock carts in India and 20 million Indians are engaged in the business of road haulage. Application of appropriate technology would eliminate the archaic wooden wheels, axles, and heavy carts and substitute lightweight carts, perhaps with such features as metal wheels, pneumatic tires, ball bearings, and fixed axles. With such improvements, loads might be increased and hauled over longer distances at greater speed and with less work.
Trials in New Areas
Testing of water buffalo production is needed in many areas where the animal is not known.
A seemingly adaptable animal, the water buffalo should be productive throughout the earth’s warm temperate, subtropical, and tropical zones. Different breeds may adapt differently to extremes of heat, humidity, and cold, and this needs further study.
The United States, the Mediterranean Basin of Europe, and some of the more temperate European areas like southern England are worth considering for water buffalo trials. In the Southern Hemisphere River buffaloes are already found as far south as 25° latitude in Brazil’s Sao Paulo State (where large herds are raised); an experimental herd of Swamp buffaloes has performed outstandingly in Brisbane, Australia (27°S); and there are a few Swamp buffalo in South Australia and Victoria (35°S or more). There is good reason to believe that water buffaloes may be productive in all of the states in Australia, New Zealand’s North Island, South Africa, Argentina, and other warm temperate areas of the Southern Hemisphere.
The biggest void in the water buffalo map is virtually the entire continent of Africa. It seems a paradox that the buffalo-Egypt’s most important domestic animal-is not farmed commercially in any other African country. Experimental herds have been introduced to Nigeria, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, and other countries in the past, and the initial success of three of them is described in Appendix A.
The water buffalo, with its tolerance for heat, disease, poor-quality feed, and mismanagement, appears to have outstanding promise for African nations such as Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, and The Gambia as well as all nations south of the Sahara (Nambia perhaps being an exception).
More specific aspects of environmental tolerance deserving research attention are:
· The physiology of the buffalo’s response to heat, cold, humidity, and other environmental factors;
· The effect of climate on growth, reproduction, milk production, health, respiration rate, behavior, and carcass quality; and
· Measurement of the calorific efficiency and chemical composition of all breeds of buffaloes and cattle to determine the environments best suited to each breed.
Despite observations of the buffalo’s ability to utilize poor quality forage, research is needed to learn how the animal does it.
This research should:
· Establish the buffalo’s nutrient requirements by breed, sex, age, and weight for maintenance, growth, reproduction, lactation, and work;
· Determine voluntary forage consumption and the nutrient utilization of different forages in various stages of maturity;
· Examine rumen microbiology and fermentation, the rate of digestion, production, and absorption of volatile fatty acids produced in the rumen, and utilization of energy, nitrogen, vitamins, and minerals;
· Develop milk replacements for early-weaned calves;
· Observe the current village-level feeding of low quality forages to learn their nutrient requirements, nutrient deficiency diseases, and nutrient supplementation needed;
· Study the utilization of concentrated, high-energy feeds (especially byproduct feeds) to determine the upper limits of buffalo growth and productivity (milk, meat, and work) and carcass quality;
· Compare various breeds of water buffaloes and other ruminants to determine possible differences in nutritional requirements and performance; and
· Apply economic research to production practices, including night feeding of cut forage and the use of improved pastures.
Research to improve management practices could benefit small farmers, ranchers, and feedlot feeders alike.
Little is known about the farm management factors that influence water buffalo productivity. Studies and extension literature for farmers are needed on subjects such as:
· Proper fencing;
· Procedures for dehorning and for preventing horn growth in calves;
· Grazing management methods;
· Preservation of forages;
· Methods and effect of castration;
· Methods and effect of spaying;
· Breeding methods;
· Milking methods;
· Artificial insemination, methodology and use;
· Methods of handling animals under grazing conditions or in feedlots;
· Age for weaning under different conditions;
· Mineral and protein supplementation methods;
· Semen freezing;
· Ova transplantation methods;
· Cryobranding and other methods of animal identification;
· Control of internal parasites; and
· Disease prevention and treatments.
Research is needed in areas where uncertainties about buffalo diseases are hindering the animals’ use.
The research should:
· Develop control and management practices to prevent specific infections and parasites for buffalo groups such as calves, yearlings, heifers, pregnant cows, newly calved cows, and bulls;
· Elucidate the factors (genetic, nutritional, management, disease) causing losses of newly born calves;
· Prevent and control the major diseases and parasites of the buffalo: hemorrhagic septicemia, brucellosis, tuberculosis, foot-and-mouth disease, sarcoptic mange, fascioliasis, nematode parasites, rinderpest and “rinderpestlike” diseases, nephritis, and conjunctivitis;
· Develop herd-health programs and specific disease-control programs for the various production systems;
· Determine the level of susceptibility to trypanosomiasis, a disease that might mitigate against introducing the animal widely to Africa; and
· Define the buffalo’s role in malarial ecology.
Research is needed to improve water buffalo reproduction.
Research topics should include:
· Physiology and deep-freezing of buffalo semen. (Although it is possible to freeze the buffalo semen now, further improvements are needed to achieve higher conception rates.)
· Incidence of sub-estrus and anestrus. This is fairly high in buffaloes. Work is needed to determine the factors contributing to this problem and find solutions applicable in the field. A simple, inexpensive test for the routine diagnosis of estrus is needed. It could ensure that buffaloes are inseminated at the optimal time and could lead to the possible synchronizing of estrus in groups of animals as well as the elimination of seasonal breeding.
· Seasonality of breeding. Investigations are needed into seasonal effects on the intensity and deviation of estrus in buffaloes. Most of the buffaloes in northern India and Pakistan, for example, calve between July and December, causing scarcity of milk in the summer season and a flush of production in the winter months (this phenomenon causes serious marketing problems).
· Low libido and low semen yield in buffalo bulls. Semen yield in buffalo bulls is less than half of the yield from cattle bulls.
· Effect of season and other factors on semen quality.
· Variation in the freezability of semen from different bulls.
Dissemination of Information
The panel recommends that two water buffalo publications be produced.
These should be:
· An international water buffalo newsletter. It is important to maintain communication among researchers working with the water buffalo in far flung research stations, universities, missions, and villages. Research findings may not be widely shared if technical animal science journals and the one or two national newsletters now available remain the only source of water buffalo information. A newsletter would bring together results from different parts of the world. It would provide rapid exchange of information as well as a forum for informal opinions, observations, and preliminary experimental data that are usually not accepted by journals.
· A formal journal of water buffalo research.
In addition, other methods for disseminating water buffalo information are to be encouraged.
The Water Buffalo: New Prospects for an Underutilized Animal (BOSTID, 1981, 111 p.)
By pinoyfarmer | August 9, 2007
Roots and tubers
Many plants are grown chiefly for their roots or underground stems.
These plants are generally known as roots and tubers.
Roots and tubers are among the food crops, that is, they are grown mainly for human food.
The food crops grown in Africa include:
- Iegumes such as beans, cow peas, Bambarra groundnuts, groundnuts, soybeans;
- cereals such as sorghum, millet, maize, rice;
- roots and tubers.
Cereals are plants grown for their grain.
Description of the plant
Cassava is a shrub that is grown chiefly for its roots.
It has its origin in South America and is now widely grown in tropical Africa.
At its base the plant consists of one or more stems 2 to 3 centimetres in diameter; usually each stem divides into three branches, and each branch in turn divides into three, and so on.
When a stem is cut, the sap that flows is white and looks much like milk. Inside the stem is pith. The stem of cassava is not very hard; it is easily broken by a strong wind.
Cassava leaves have a long stalk and a much divided leaf- blade.
The leaf veins are green or red.
A cassava leaf
The flowers are pink, red, yellow or green. There are both male and female flowers in the same cluster.
The fruit is divided into three parts. Each part contains a seed. When the cassava fruit is ripe, it opens.
The farmer grows cassava chiefly for its roots. Some of them become large and fat by storing up food reserves. Other thinner roots continue to feed the plant.
Different kinds of cassava
Cassava roots contain a poison, prussic acid.
Some contain a great deal of poison; these are mainly the bitter tubers. Others, the sweet tubers, contain little poison.
The poison can be removed by thoroughly washing the root; by drying it or by cooking it thoroughly.
Before giving cassava to people or to animals, it must always be well cooked.
Where is cassava grown?
To grow well, cassava needs a warm, humid climate.
If the rainy season is long, cassava roots grow rapidly.
Cassava is also a plant that will resist drought.
With less rain, the yield is small.
Cassava stems are not tough and dislike high winds.
Cassava is a very strong grower. It will grow even in very poor soil.
But cassava grows best in soil that is permeable, not too compact, in which air and water circulate well. Then the roots fatten up and do not rot.
Cassava makes the soil poor. Besides the fat roots that store up food, many little roots take water and mineral salts from the soil.
After a crop of cassava, the field is very poor and must be left fallow.
How to grow cassava
The place of cassava in a crop rotation
Usually, cassava follows several other crops.
For example, first maize, okra, groundnuts are sown, then plantains are planted, and finally cassava.
In some places, cassava is planted at the same time as yams, or soon after.
The cassava cuttings are placed in the sides of the mounds for yams.
In other places, maize is grown between the cassava plants, or beans, fonio or groundnuts.
It is better not to grow several crops together.
Preparing the soil for cassava
To develop well, cassava roots need soil that has been loosened by the hoe or plough. So till deeply, to 20 or 25 centimetres, so that the roots can get well down.
After tilling, at the beginning of the rainy season, make mounds or ridges. This breaks up the soil and it stores up water; the roots have plenty of loose earth in which to develop.
If fertilizers or manure are used, work them into the soil when it is tilled.
Yields are high when the plant finds plenty of nourishment in the soil. Farmyard manure, compost and green manure are the best fertilizers for cassava.
For green manure, sow leguminous cover plants such as:
Phaseolus or beans.
Sow them a little before the rains, and dig them in after 5 to 18 months of leafy growth.
You can also use farmyard manure or compost. These organic manures enrich the soil with organic matter and mineral salts.
To complete the manuring, you can apply mineral fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.1
1 The use of mineral fertilizers may be profitable if the farmer sells the cassava to gari or tapioca factories. Many experiments made in Ghana and Nigeria have shown that yields per hectare are increased chiefly by nitrogen fertilizers such as ammonium sulphate (21% nitrogen), urea (46% nitrogen) and phosphorus fertilizers such as single superphosphate (16 to 20% phosphoric acid}, triple superphosphate (46% phosphoric acid) and ground natural phosphate (20 to 40% phosphoric acid). Potassium fertilizers such as potassium chloride (60% potassium) and potassium sulphate 150% potassium! have a less marked effect. However, the yield of cassava falls greatly when the soil lacks potassium fertilizers. If the farmer applies fertilizers and looks after his plantation well, the yield of cassava reaches 25 to 65 tons per hectare.
How to propagate cassava
Cassava is propagated by cuttings, by planting pieces of stem.
The roots of cassava are not used for making a new plantation, and thus all the harvest can be eaten or sold.
To make cuttings, choose stems 2 to 4 centimetres thick, from the strongest plants which are not diseased and which have already produced tubers.
After the harvest, tie the selected stems in bundles. Wait at least 10 days before planting them.
Keep the bundles in a cool, dry place until planting time.
But remember that the cuttings must not be made from the stems until you are ready to plant.
Cut each stem into pieces 20 to 30 centimetres long. There should be 4 to 6 growth buds on each piece. Each stem can be made into 4 or 5 cuttings.
How to plant cassava
To plant cassava, push into the soil the end of the piece of stem that was nearer to the ground.
Plant the cuttings in mounds or ridges. Plant when the soil is quite wet, after the beginning of the rainy season. Plant the cuttings either straight or slanting. Push them well into the earth, leaving only 2 or 3 buds above ground.
Cassava cuttings may be planted straight or slating
Press the earth well down round the cuttings. Then the roots that develop will be well nourished by the soil.
Usually the rows are 1 to 1.5 metres apart, and the plants 1 metre apart.
With this spacing, there are between 7 000 and 10 000 cassava plants to the hectare.
But the number of cuttings to the hectare varies with the region, soil and variety.
If cassava is planted at the right density, the yield is heavy; the roots occupy all the soil and fewer weeds grow, so that fewer cultivations are needed.
Looking after the plantation
CONTROL OF WEEDS
Weed when the cassava plants are 20 to 25 centimetres high, that is, 3 or 4 weeks after planting.
Weed a second time 1 or 2 months after the first. Earth up the plants at the same time; this greatly helps the formation or tubers, and prevents the wind from blowing the plants down.
After this, the cassava plants are big enough to prevent weeds from growing.
When rain spoils the mounds, they must be remade.
When the soil of the mounds gets too hard, break it up with a hoe, so that water and air can get in to nourish the roots.
CONTROL OF DISEASES
Cassava is often attacked by what is called mosaic disease.
Leaves of plants attacked by mosaic look as though crumpled, and show light spots. If the attack is serious, yields are sharply reduced.
Means of controlling mosaic disease are not yet known. To avoid it, do not take cuttings from plants attacked by the disease.
Choose varieties of cassava that have been bred for resistance to the disease.
To prevent mosaic spreading in a region, burn all the plants attacked by the disease.
Rot damages the roots, especially after 10 months of leafy growth.
Rot often occurs when the cassava field has been flooded for several days. The tubers turn soft and give off an unpleasant smell; they are no longer any good for human or animal food. This means a big loss to the farmer.
To avoid rot, do not plant cassava in a place that is often flooded.
If a cassava field is flooded after heavy rain when the tubers are already ripe, you must get the cassava out of the ground very quickly, before it starts to rot.
CONTROL OF PESTS
Agoutis, rats and rabbits are the chief rodents that may cause great damage in a field of cassava. These animals eat the stems, the young shoots, and especially the roots.
- Wild boars, pigs and other animals
Other animals such as the wild boar and the pig are equally damaging to cassava.
They are very fond of it, and with their powerful snouts they push over the plants and dig up large quantities of roots.
Control all these animals by putting poison in the fields, by laying traps, or by digging deep ditches round the cassava plantations.
- In very dry regions, when cassava is planted a long time before the rains, termites eat the cuttings.
To avoid this damage, wait for the rainy season before planting,
Or you can dip the cuttings in insecticide just before planting them.
- Thrips and certain other insects feed on sap by piercing the stems and leaves of cassava. Other insects eat the leaves and the young shoots. When they come in large numbers they may cause great damage. They are controlled with insecticides such as BHC.
- Red spiders are tiny red creatures no longer than 0.5 millimetre.
Large numbers of them live on the lower surface of cassava leaves. The same red spiders attack castor oil, cotton and rubber plants. They feed on the sap of the plant by piercing the leaves. The leaves attacked get brown spots on the underside. The plants attacked do not grow well, and do not yield much cassava.
To control red spiders, the plants may be sprayed with soapy water and nicotine, with rotenone, white oil, etc.
When diseases, animals and insects cause serious damage, you should quickly inform me agricultural extension officer. He will tell you what to do to control diseases effectively or to get rid of pests.
How to harvest and store cassava
Depending on the variety, harvesting of cassava for food may begin from the seventh month after planting the cuttings for early varieties, or after the tenth month for late varieties.
Before this, the tubers are too small. In addition, they still contain too much prussic acid.
At harvesting time, that is, between the sixth and the twelfth month, each fully grown tuber of cassava may weigh 1 or 2 kilogrammes, depending on the variety.
In small family plantations you can harvest me tubers as you need them. Without cutting the stems, begin by taking the biggest tubers from each plant, leaving the smaller ones time to fatten up.
If you are selling to a factory, you must harvest all the cassava at the same time. The production of roots and starch is highest 18 to 20 months after planting.
Once lifted, cassava cannot be kept for long. The roots begin to spoil as soon as they are out of the ground.
That is why on a family plantation, you should not harvest more roots than you can eat while they are fresh, or sell immediately.
Cassava keeps longer when it is left in the ground, but the soil must not be too wet.
A cassava root
When you lift the cassava, take good care not to break it. Tubers damaged in lifting go bad even more quickly.
The use of cassava in food
Many peoples of tropical Africa make cassava their staple food.
Cassava tubers can be eaten whole.
But as a rule they are turned into flour or paste.
The reasons for this are:
- to get rid of the poison;
- to keep the cassava for a long time;
- to get foods with a more pleasant taste.
Fresh cassava and cassava paste
For eating fresh, the sweet varieties are chosen for preference. The poison in cassava is mainly in the peel. Wash the cassava carefully, cut the roots into pieces and steam them.
To make a paste, pound pieces of tuber in a mortar. The pastes are known as foutou, foufou, foufouin or tchokoro.
Dried casava and cassava flour
The fresh roots are peeled, sliced into rounds, and dried in the sun.
Sometimes, instead of being sliced, cassava is grated and then pressed into little balls which are dried.
The balls and the slices can be kept for a long time.
To make flour, the slices or balls are pounded in a mortar, or ground in a mill.
This flour contains all the food elements of cassava. Do not confuse flour with starch.
Cooked cassava flours
Gari and atcheke are much liked in Africa.
To make gari, peel and grate fresh cassava. Then press it in baskets or sacks for three or four days, until it begins to ferment. After rubbing it through a sieve, heat it, dry, in a pot, stirring all the time to prevent sticking. Afterwards, remove impurities with a sieve.
To make atcheke, cassava is prepared as for gari. But the flour is steamed instead of being cooked dry in a pot.
Starch and tapioca
After peeling, washing and grating the cassava, the pulp is mixed with water. Then the resulting liquid is strained through a cloth. This is done several times.
The water that passes through the cloth contains the starch. The liquid is allowed to stand for several hours. The water at the top is removed and the starch is left at the bottom of the vessel.
The damp starch is used to make tapioca. As in making gari, the starch is heated in pots and stirred all the time.
After cooking, it is allowed to get cold, and then the tapioca is sieved to separate the lumps of different sizes.
In some places cassava leaves are much liked.
In southern Cameroon cassava leaves are often eaten as a vegetable. They are in fact rich in vitamin C and mineral salts, and contain some protein.
Description of the plant
Yam is the name given to many plants with tubers belonging to the family of Dioscoreaceae. Yams, or Dioscorea, are herbaceous plants. Their stem consists of two parts: an aerial stem which climbs bv winding round a stake and lasts only a year; and an underground stem that can live a long time.
The underground stem thickens to produce one or more tubers called yams
Cross section of a yam
The tubers contain reserves to feed the plant and enable it to produce fruits and seeds.
But the tubers are lifted before the plant makes seeds.
When they are ripe, the tubers are brown in colour on the outside, but the flesh is white, yellow or red. Their weight varies between 2 and 5 kilogrammes.
In rich, well- worked, deep soil and on mounds, yams can reach weights of 15 to 20 kilogrammes and more.
The aerial stem may be smooth, may bear thorns, or may be covered with little hairs.
Depending on the variety, the aerial stem of a yam may be round in section, or square.
The leaves are alternate or opposite, smooth or hairy. They are usually heart- shaped. In certain species small tubers called bulbils are found in the axils of the leaves
Piece of yam stem
The flowers, white, green or red, are arranged in clusters or in spikes; the male flowers are separate from the female flowers. Some varieties of yam bear male and female flowers at the same time; others bear only male or only female flowers.
The fruits are divided in three parts and each part contains two seeds.
There are many varieties of yam
To recognize them we look at:
- the section and appearance of the aerial stem;
- the direction in which it winds round the stake;
- the shape of the leaves and their position on the stem;
- the colour, shape and taste of the tubers;
- the presence or absence of bulbils.
Yam stem winding round a stake
Yams may be classified in six groups:
- Dioscorea alata
The stems wind in a counterclockwise direction. They are smooth and thornless. They are four- sided. The leaves are simple and opposite. The aerial stems and the leaf- stalks are winged.
Each plant of Dioscorea alaa often produces only one tuber, more rarely two tubers. The tubers are covered with rootless.
This variety is quite robust, and gives a big yield. The tubers stand transport well and keep well.
This is a late or medium early variety of yam. The growing period is 8 or 9 months.
Leaf and tuber of Dioscorea alata
This variety is generally called the water yam.
Other names are:
Ivory Coast: bt- bt and nza
Guinea: gbra- gu (Malink) or khabi- gbouel; (Soussou)
Benin: sakarou (Bariba)
Mali and Senegal: anda- ba (Bambara)
- Dioscorea cayenensis (Guinea yam)
There are great differences among the varieties of Dioscorea cayenensis.
Some are early varieties harvested only once; they are usually planted when the rainy season has already begun. In west Africa these varieties are harvested between November and January. In Ivory Coast they are called lokpa.
Other varieties, late or medium early, are harvested twice. These yams are planted early, often before the rainy season has begun.
The first harvest is about 6 months after planting (August- September). The mature tuber or tubers are removed carefully, and the roots left undisturbed.
The second harvest is taken 4 to 6 months later ( December- January ). Only the tubers from this last harvest are used for planting.
The medium early varieties are: gnan and klingl or krengl, which grow in 6 to 7 months.
The late varieties are: sepelo and kangba, which cannot be harvested before 8 or 9 months.
The stems of Dioscorea cayenensis wind in a counterclockwise direction. They are round and often have thorns.
As a rule, each plant produces one yellow fleshed tuber, the shape of which is very varied.
- Dioscorea dumetorum
The stems wind in a clockwise direction. They are oval and are generally covered with hairs. The leaves are alternate; they have three leaflets.
This variety is well suited to conditions in savanna country; it withstands drought well and even sometimes comes through brush fires without much harm.
Each plant of Dioscorea dumetorum may have several tubers. The tubers have no rootless, but are smooth except for wrinkles running across them.
- Dioscorea trifida (cush- cush yam)
This yam is still little known in Africa.
The stems wind in a clockwise direction. They are four- sided.
The leaves are alternate and deeply divided into three to six lobes.
Each plant produces several small, elongated tubers.
- Dioscorea esculenta
The stems wind in a clockwise direction and have thorns.
The leaves are alternate and are entire, or deeply divided into several lobes.
This is a late variety that grows in 9 to 10 months.
Each plant produces a large number of small tubers between 30 and 40. It is popularly called the white man’s yam. Names for it are:
brofi mbou (Abb)
bofou shi (Attic)
brofou douo (Baoul)
Togo and Benin:
anago- t (Ew- Mine)
- Dioscorea bulbifera
This variety of yam grows in 9 months. It is chiefly grown in western Cameroon. Names for it are:
dan or dana (Soussou)
The stems wind in a clockwise direction and are thornless.
The leaves of Dioscorea bulbifera are alternate, large and hairless.
Leaf and aerial tuber of Dioscorea bulbifera
Little aerial tubers, called bulbils, are to be seen in the axils of the leaves.
These bulbils develop by the transformation of buds.
They may be as much as 10 centimetres long. They have white, firm flesh and are good to eat when cooked.
These bulbils store food reserves, just like underground tubers. The underground tubers are smaller.
Where are yams grown?
To grow well, yams need a warm, humid climate, with abundant, prolonged rain.
Yams cannot be grown in very dry regions, or where the sunlight is too strong. Yams need shade during the early stages of growth.
This is why in Africa, yams are grown in regions between the dense forest and the dry, treeless savanna.
Yams grow well in rich, deep, permeable soil that is not too sandy.
The tubers do not grow well in heavy soils.
Swampy land that is flooded for several days during the rainy reason is not suitable for growing yams.
How to grow yams
The place of yams in a crop rotation
It is best to plant yams at the beginning of the rotation, as a first- year crop after clearing the land.
If yams are grown after a long fallow, they find plenty of mineral salts in the soil, and yield many good tubers.
How to prepare the soil for yams
Before planting yams, the soil must be well prepared.
- Clear the land before the rainy season. Cut down the trees, cut the branches. Stack the trees and branches and burn them.
Do not cut all the trees. Leave some of the little ones. They can be used as supports for the aerial stems of the yams. These natural supports will later be supplemented by stakes.
- Till the land to a depth of 20 to 40 centimetres.
- At this time add organic manures, well- rotted farmyard manure, compost or green manure, at 10 to 40 tons a hectare.
Inorganic fertilizers may be used to get a greater yield.
The amounts vary according to the country, region, or even the soils in the same field.
Research stations like IRAT’ make a special study of food crops, and advise farmers.
In Liberia, it is known that the application of potassium (K) fertilizers is valuable in increasing yields.
In Nigeria and Ghana, the agricultural service advises that yams should be given the following fertilizers:
250 kg/ha ammonium sulphate;
65 kg/ha single superphosphate;
215 kg/ha potassium chloride.
The farmer who wants to make progress should all the time ask for advice from the agricultural service.
- In many African countries, yams are planted in mounds 30 to 40 centimetres high and 1 or 2 metres apart. These mounds are made at the beginning of the rainy season. The soil which has thus been well loosened holds plenty of water.
Sometimes the mounds are only made 2 or 3 months after planting. This earthing up encourages the development of tubers but takes a lot of work from the farmer.
If the soil is fairly deep and is deeply tilled, it is not always necessary to make mounds. In that case, more tubers can be planted and the density is greater.
Yams are planted at the beginning of the rainy season. Plant them 5 to 10 centimetres deep 1 metre apart in all directions or 90 centimetres by 1 metre. This gives the tubers plenty of room to fatten up, and the plant makes use of all the rainy season water.
How to propagate yams
Many kinds of yam bear flowers which fruit and produce seeds. So it is possible to obtain new yam plants by sowing these seeds.
But this way of propagating is no use to the farmer. The new plants grown from seed are not always like the parent plants. Often the yield is less, the tubers are much too small and of bad quality and contain a poison called dioscorine.
For all these reasons, it is better to propagate by cuttings. But here care is needed Take cuttings from ripe tubers, and not from the aerial stems, as is done with cassava. These root cuttings make plants which are like the parent plant, and give good yields.
For the cuttings use pieces of tuber or small whole tubers. To get regular sprouting and good yields, the cuttings “whether whole tubers or pieces) should weigh between 250 and 400 grammes.
The amount of yams planted represents a considerable part (about a quarter) of the harvest. That much of the harvest must be set aside and well stored for use in planting later.
Plant only fully ripe tubers. It is best to use the part of the tuber nearest the crown. This top of the tuber contains many growth buds and shoots more quickly than the rest of the tuber. For this reason, tops of tubers must all be planted in the same field.
The remaining yam tubers are planted in another field. They sprout less quickly.
With the Dioscorea bulbifera variety of yams, the bulbils can be planted in the same way as tubers. Wait until they are quite ripe, when they are easily removed from the stem.
Do not plant tubers or bulbils that are damaged, rotten or diseased.
Small yam tuber used for planting
How to plant yams
The bulbils, pieces of tuber or small tubers are planted in the top of the mound at a depth of 5 to 10 centimetres, and covered with soil. When there is too much sun or the light is too strong, cover the mound with grass, so that the sun will not dry out the young plant and the rain will not wash away the soil and the tubers
- In savanna country where there is a long dry period, stakes are not used.
The aerial stems trail on the ground. By covering it, they prevent weeds growing, and protect it against dryness.
A yam mound
Looking after the plantation
CONTROL OF WEEDS
For a good harvest, hoeing must be done two or three times during the early stages of growth.
When this cultivation is being done, the mounds are remade at the same time.
Later, the abundant vegetation of the yams prevents the growth of weeds.
It is then not necessary to hoe.
CONTROL OF DISEASES AND PESTS
Yams have few diseases.
However, rodents, some insects and fungi cause damage.
Damaged tubers rot quickly and cannot be kept for long.
Harvesting and storing yams
Depending on the variety, yams are harvested 6 to 12 months after planting. Lift the tubers when the leaves and stems turn yellow and dry.
Do not leave the ripe tubers too long in the ground, otherwise they become bitter and may rot.
With some varieties, only one crop is harvested. Others are harvested twice.
At the first harvest, after 6 months, the biggest tubers are lifted.
The second harvest is taken 3 to 6 months after the first.
Or the crop may be harvested as and when needed.
Early varieties, such as lokpa, do not store well. These yams should be eaten immediately after lifting.
Late varieties, such as Dioscorea alata, may be stored for 5 or 6 months.
But they must be kept dry and protected from rats and other rodents.
They should be under a roof, on dry ground or on boards supported on posts.
To prevent rot, the tubers should not be heaped up too much.
The use of yams in food
Yams are the staple food of many peoples of Africa.
Yams are eaten fresh, or are treated and preserved.
Most varieties of yams, especially the wild species that are not cultivated, contain a poison (dioscorine). But this poison is removed by washing the yams several times in salt water and by cooking them well.
This is why yams must never be eaten raw, but only when they are thoroughly cooked.
Fresh and mashed yams
When yams are eaten fresh, either boiled or fried, peel them first, cut the tubers into pieces and wash them carefully. The boiled yams are pounded to make mashed yams.
Dried yams and yam flour
The fresh tubers are peeled, sliced, and dried in the sun.
Sometimes yams are steamed before being dried in the sun. And sometimes after a meal, the remains of foutou (mashed fresh yams) are carefully gathered up and made into little balls which are then dried in the sun.
Like cassava, the slices or yam and the balls of foutou can be kept for a long time once they have been well dried.
To make flour, the slices or the little balls are pounded in a mortar, or ground in a mill. The flour thus produced is used to make a dough.
Description of the plant
The sweet potato is a climbing herbaceous plant. It may live for several years, but often it is harvested after 3 months, without waiting for it to flower.
The stems may grow to 2 or 3 metres in length; they are thin and climbing or creeping. They have nodes at varying distances apart. It is thought that the varieties with short inter- nodes yield more heavily than those with long inter- nodes.
The leaves vary greatly in size and shape. Depending on the variety, they may be entire, heart- shaped or deeply divided with three, five or seven lobes. The leaf veins and the leaf- stalks are green or red.
The flowers, usually violet, sometimes white, are clustered in the leaf axils. Many varieties of sweet potato in cultivation do not have time to produce flowers and fruits before the harvest.
The most important part of the plant is the roots, because they can develop into tubers.
The tubers are parts of the creeping roots that have built up food reserves.
These tubers are produced at points where the roots cease to spread out near the surface and turn downward into the soil. By making mounds that are not too wide, the formation of tubers is helped.
Leaves and tubers of sweet potato
Varieties of sweet potato
Varieties of sweet potato differ greatly in the number, shape and size of their tubers and in the color of the peel and flesh of the tubers.
Sweet potatoes may be round or elongated. In colour they are white, yellow, red or violet, with soft or firm flesh. They may weigh between 0.3 and 3 kilogrammes.
Where are sweet potatoes grown?
Sweet potatoes grow well in warm, sunny and humid regions. At the same time, they withstand drought very well. For that reason, they are suited to dry savanna country.
Sweet potatoes need regular rain to grow, especially when the leaves are coming into growth. But if there is too much rain at harvesting time, the tubers rot.
The sweet potato will grow in poor soils. The most suitable soil is a light, well- drained, sandy loam. If the soil is too rich in organic matter and nitrogen, the plant produces a great deal of useless stem and leaves, and only after a long time produces a very few tubers.
How to grow sweet potatoes
As a rule, sweet potatoes are grown on ridges or mounds after deep tilling.
This way is better than growing them on the flat.
The mounds and ridges protect them from too much moisture. The ridges are made about 75 centimetres apart.
But it is still better to plant sweet potatoes on round mounds 30 to 40 centimetres high and 1 metre apart. The mounds should be made as narrow as possible.
This forces the plant to bend its roots downward quickly. In bending, the roots build up food reserves and develop tubers.
The farmer must know his varieties well. He must know how long they take to form tubers, and see to it that the harvest will be in the dry season.
It is better to plant several times, at intervals, so that the whole plantation does not become ready for harvest at the same time. By doing this, you can lift the sweet potatoes as and when you need them.
Propagation of sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are propagated from cuttings or from tubers.
- Propagation from cuttings
Propagation from cuttings is possible only when the sweet potatoes remain in the field all through the year. The cuttings should be 20 to 40 centimetres long, with three to five growth buds. It is best to take them from the tips of young stems. Take the cuttings only when you are ready to plant them, and keep them in the shade until they are inserted in the soil. Propagation from cuttings is the most economic way of increasing your plants.
Plant cuttings at a slant, leaving 3 or 4 centimetres above ground, and press the soil down firmly. If you plant them on mounds, you can put four or five cuttings in a circle on each mound. This will give you a planting density of between 15 000 and 30 000 plants to the hectare.
- Propagation from tubers
If you do not have any plants of sweet potatoes with enough leafy growth to provide cuttings, you can propagate from tubers.
In this case, the tubers must be made to sprout in a cool nursery bed. If the tubers are large, cut them into several pieces. After about a month, remove from the tubers the young shoots that are 15 to 20 centimetres long and plant them.
This method of propagation from tubers is usually done only on a part, say one third, of the area on which sweet potatoes are to be grown. Later, cuttings from the plants thus obtained can be used to enlarge the plantation.
Looking after the plantation
CONTROL OF WEEDS
One or two cultivations in the early stages of growth are enough. In 4 to 6 weeks after planting, the plant’s own leafy growth will closely cover the soil.
When cultivating, remake the mounds at the same time.
CONTROL OF DISEASES AND PESTS
Sweet potatoes attacked by diseases and insects yield only a small harvest of poor quality.
You must wait 3 to 5 years before growing sweet potatoes again on the same field.
- Rot and fungi
Diseases that kill the growing plants are caused chiefly by various fungi. Some fungi make the leaves turn yellow and wither. Other fungi make the stems or tubers rot. Signs of the disease are yellow leaves and black marks inside the stems and tubers.
Other fungi cause the young plant to rot. It stops growing. The roots and the tubers already formed turn black. It is not long before the whole plant withers and dies.
To control most forms of rot, you must choose resistant varieties. Do not use for propagation cuttings or tubers taken from plantations attacked by rot.
Do not grow sweet potatoes on the same soil 2 years in succession.
- Insect pests
Sweet potatoes may be attacked by certain insects, especially by weevils.
The adult insects eat the leaves, stems and tubers. The female insects lay their eggs in the stems or roots; the larvae tunnel into the tubers. Serious damage is caused by weevils.
To control the weevils, use insecticides. Before planting tubers and cuttings, dip them in a solution of Dieldrin.
In places where harvested sweet potatoes are stored, they can be fumigated with phostoxin in tablets.
Yields of sweet potatoes and storing
Depending on the varieties of sweet potato and on the way they are grown, yields vary from 4 to 7 tons per hectare on average. On a modern and well- cared- for plantation, yields may be much higher, and may even be more than 20 tons per hectare.
The length of time for which sweet potatoes can be kept differs with the varieties and the harvesting season. If they are harvested in dry weather, the tubers may be stored for 2 or 3 months.
But part of the harvest may be destroyed by rot during storage. Damaged tubers are most quickly attacked. Damp conditions encourage rot.
To prevent rot, dry the tubers in the sun for a time after harvesting.
For good keeping, the tubers of sweet potatoes should be harvested when they are quite ripe, when the stems and leaves have turned yellow. Take care not to damage the tubers. Remove all diseased and damaged tubers. Dry the tubers in the sun. Store them under cover in a dark, dry, cool, well- aired place. Put them on dry ground or on boards supported on posts, and do not heap them up too much.
Sweet potatoes in human food
Sweet potatoes are of great value as an energy food.
The sweet potato, especially the coloured varieties, contains vitamins. The yellow ones are the richest in vitamins.
The tubers contain much starch, and this can be extracted from the tubers in factories.
The sweet potato can also be used for making alcohol. The leaves of the plant are used for food, both for people and animals.
Tania and taro (gabi)
Tania and taro are alike. They belong to the same family, the Araceae.
But tania and taro are two different plants.
- Tania goes by the scientific name of Xanthosoma. It is grown chiefly in Cameroon.
- Taro (or cocoyam) goes by the scientific name of Colocasia. It is grown all over Africa.
Description of the plant
Tania and taro are distinguished by the shape and arrangement of the leaves.
Tania or Xanthosoma
Some varieties of tania have an aerial stem. It may reach 1 metre in length in the adult plant.
The leaf blade of tania is divided by a notch which makes the leaf arrow- shaped.
The leaf-stalk is attached to the edge of the leaf at the middle of the notch.
The leaf is bigger than the taro leaf; it is more sheath- like, thicker, stiffer and more shiny. It is permeated with a sort of wax.
Tania (Xanthosoma) plant
The leaf-stalks are long, stiff and thick. They are flattened at the part attached to the leaf. The leaf-stalk of tania is a direct continuation of the midrib.
As a rule, the underground stems and tubers are well developed. They weigh between 1 and 5 kilogrammes and are rich in starch.
Taro or cocoyam (Colocasia)
Taro never has an aerial stem as is the case with some varieties of tania.
Taro leaves are a lighter green and less shiny than those of tania. They are smaller. The leaf blade is thin and flexible. The leaf-stalk is thin, flexible and has no sheath.
The leaf-stalk is not a continuation of the midrib, as with tania
Taro (Colocasia) leaf
The taro leaf- stalk is not attached to the edge of the leaf, but near the centre of the leaf blade.
The underground stem varies a lot. It may be round or flat, branching or not branching.
As with tania, the underground stems of taro often produce secondary tubers, but they are smaller. Unlike what happens with tania, it is chiefly the bigger, central tuber that is used for food. It remains tender when ripe, at harvest time.
There are many varieties of taro, as there are of tania.
The tubers may be large or small, with flesh that is yellow, red or white, hard or soft, that becomes floury after cooking, or doughy.
Where are tania and taro grown?
Tania and taro require- a warm, humid climate.
But tania suffers more from drought than tarot If you live in a region with not much rain, it is better to grow taro than tania.
Tania and taro need well- loosened soil that is very cool and rich in humus.
Some varieties can even be planted in land that is often flooded.
How to grow tania and taro
In general, the same methods are used for both plants.
Tania and taro are usually propagated from small tubers or pieces of tuber.
Sometimes the suckers, or new shoots that appear some distance from the parent plant, are used.
With tania, pieces of the aerial stem can sometimes be used, or the main tuber if it has become too hard to eat.
The tubers, pieces of tuber or of aerial stem are cut into pieces 10 to 15 centimetres long; the leaf- stalks are cut at about 10 centimetres from the junction with the leaf.
Tania and taro may be planted by themselves. Or they may be planted with other crops in the same field.
For example, they can be grown in the shade of a plantation of plantains. They can also be grown under the dense foliage of big forest trees.
Because tania and taro have large leaves, they may be used as a cover crop when starting a new cocoa plantation.
Planting is done at the beginning of the rainy season in rather shallow holes.
When grown alone, the distance between the holes may be 60 centimetres in all directions, or else 60 centimetres by 80 centimetres.
When grown with other crops, for example, when tania and taro are used to shade young cocoa trees, the distance between the holes varies between 50 centimetres and 1 metre.
Looking after the plantation
Tania and taro require very little care. One or two cultivations in the early stages of growth are all that is necessary before the harvest. Often the plants are lightly earthed up when these cultivations are carried out.
Depending on variety, tania and taro are between 6 and 14 months in the field.
The tubers are ripe and ready for harvest when the leaves turn yellow and the plant begins to wither.
The fully ripe tubers should be harvested in dry weather. If you harvest during the dry season, the tubers may be left in the earth for some time and will not spoil.
When the field is wet, the ripe tubers must be harvested quickly. They may sprout and will then be no good for human food.
Each tania or taro plant may yield several harvests during one crop period.
As a rule, the harvests should be organized as follows:
- For tania
The first harvest begins about 3 months after planting. Three months after this first harvest, you can take three or four additional harvests from each plant. After each of these additional harvests, wait 2 or 3 weeks before taking tubers again from the same plant.
- For taro
The first harvest begins 6 to 8 months after planting. After that, harvest again two or three times from the same plant at intervals of 2 or 3 weeks.
When harvesting dig out the soil right up to the plant, take the biggest tubers and detach them from the parent plant. Then fill in the hole. Let the young tubers develop before harvesting again.
Storing the tubers
The harvested tubers are cleaned and can be sold fresh.
But tania and taro tubers may be kept for some time, and eaten as and when needed.
To keep the tubers for some months after harvesting, you must prevent them from rotting.
To do that, put the tubers on dry ground, or on boards supported on posts, in a well- aired, dry, cool place, sheltered from the sun and rain.
Tania and taro in human food
The leaves of tania and taro are used in human food as vegetables.
They may also be given to animals as fodder.
With tania, the main underground stem is too hard to be eaten. Only the tubers are used for food.
With taro, the underground stems often bear tubers. The central tuber, which is the biggest and yet soft, is the one chiefly used for food.
Better Farming Series 16 – Roots and Tubers (FAO – INADES, 1977, 58 p.)
By pinoyfarmer | August 9, 2007
By VITA Volunteer Harlan H. D. Attfield
1. THE DAIRY GOAT
Goats are among the smallest domesticated ruminants and have served mankind longer than cattle or sheep. They thrive in arid, semitropical, or mountainous countries. More than 460 million goats in the world produce over 4.5 million tons of milk and 1.2 million tons of meat annually, besides mohair, cashmere, leather, and dung for fuel and fertilizer. Goats are friendly animals; with proper attention they maintain good health and can be managed easily even by children.
More people consume dairy products from goats than from any other animal. Goat’s milk greatly improves the diet of many rural families. It is traditionally valued for the elderly, the sick, babies, children who are allergic to cow’s milk, and patients with ulcers. It is even preferred for raising orphan foals and other young domestic animals. Goat milk is richer than cow’s milk in some important nutrients: vitamin A, niacin, choline, and inositol; it is poorer in folic acid.
Goats are browsers, preferring the new growth of shrubs and the seed heads of grasses to the lower quality older growth in a pasture. They are able to select the most nutritious parts of plants, even from thornbushes and higher tree branches not reached by sheep, and can use a wide range of forage. For this reason, they are able to survive in areas where other livestock do not.
As browsers, they are useful for clearing brush in small areas. However, because they strip the leaves and bark of young trees, they should be used in settled areas only if good fences can be provided. One or two animals can usually be controlled with a tether, but they must be watched carefully lest they get tangled in brush or wind their tethers around small trees.
Most efforts to improve dairy goat management have been designed to provide more and better milk. These efforts include:
1. Breeding and selecting to produce more and better milk.
2. Better feeding and pasturing practices.
3. Better housing for extremes of weather and climate.
4. Improved sanitation of milk and milk products.
5. Control of internal parasitic diseases that often lead to poor health and decreased milk production.
6. Improved marketing of dairy goat products.
7. Development of information and research services.
All goats, even those selected for milk production, eventually are used for meat unless they die or are destroyed for other reasons. Many people prefer goat meat to mutton, beef, or pork; it is the principal source of animal protein in many North African and West Asian nations. It is also important in the Caribbean area and in Southeast Asia, and relatively more so in developing tropical countries than in the temperate regions. The world production of edible meat from cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, swine, and horses is estimated at 17.9 million tons, 5.7% of which comes from
The major breeds of dairy goats are listed below:
Saanen, originally from Switzerland, where they were bred for odor-free milk, are totally white. Like other Swiss breeds, they may or may not have horns. They are usually short haired. Saanen goats are used around the world as leading milk producers.
Toggenburg, brown with white stripes on the face, ears and legs, are mostly short haired, erect eared goats. They too are of Swiss origin and are 10 cm shorter and 9 kg lighter than the Saanen. Pure bred for over 300 years, they are reliable milk producers summer and winter, in temperate and tropical zones.
Alpine (including French, Rock and British), another Swiss breed, are short haired and as tall and strong as the Saanen. They are colored white on black, and produce less milk than Saanen or Toggenburg.
Anglo-Nubian is a breed developed in England from native and from Indian and Nubian goats. They have heavy arched noses and long, pendulous ears, spiral horns (when horns are present), and short hair. Anglo-Nubian goats are as tall as Saanen, but give milk that is less in amount and higher in fat content. They are less tolerant of cold but do well in hot climates. They “talk” a lot, and are in numbers the most popular breed in the United States, Canada, and many parts of Asia. They often produce triplets and quadruplets. Goats of this breed show many colors and are often spotted.
Oberhasli (also called Swiss Alpine. Chamoisie, or Brienz) goats, of Swiss origin, are usually solid red or black, have erect ears, and are not as tall as Saanen. They are very well adapted for high-altitude mountain grazing and long hours of marching. Milk production is variable.
Before selecting a breed consult local agricultural extension authorities for advice. Regardless of the breed selected for milk production, individual animals should have body characteristics as shown in Figure 1.
Goats may breed at any month of the year, but in temperate climates they breed seasonally, generally showing estrus in the autumn as the days become shorter and producing young about five months later. Seasonal breeding is much less marked in the tropics. Most breeds reach sexual maturity at about five months; dwarf or pygmy goats as early as three months. In the tropics female goats often produce first young by 12 to 15 months even if poorly fed and not well developed. The usual birth interval is about a year in the United States and Europe; in the tropics under good management the interval varies from 260 to 290 days.
A female goat is called a doe, males are bucks, and the young are kids. Mature does of most breeds produce more twins than single kids; triplets and quadruplets are common and are success-reared. The usual litter size varies from 1.4 to 2.2 kids and in the tropics the kidding interval is about 280 days. A female should produce young three times in two years, or 2.1 to 3.3 kids per year.
Swiss goat breeds are the world’s leaders in milk production. Indian and Nubian goat breeds are dual-purpose meat and milk animals. Spanish and South African Boer goats are best known for meat producing ability. The Turkish Angora, Asian Cashmere, and the Russian Don goats are kept for mohair and cashmere wool production. In addition, Pygmy goats from Western Africa are of increasing interest as laboratory and pet animals, and as successful meat and milk producers in areas infested by tsetse flies.
4. FEEDING DAIRY GOATS
The goat is a ruminant, having a four-part stomach like the cow and sheep. The first part, called the rumen, is the largest; it receives food that has been swallowed without much chewing and stores it until it is regurgitated and chewed again. The food eventually goes to the third and fourth stomachs, where it is more completely digested. The rumen contains bacteria that break down plant fibers to soluble sugar and manufacture certain essential nutrients that may be absent from the diet. Digestion is completed in the small intestine.
Although the goat has a great capacity for consuming fibrous feed (roughage), it needs to be given forage or good quality, such as legume hay. In India this often consists of berseem (Egyptian clover, Trifolium alexandrinum), alfalfa (lucerne), groundnut hay, acacia beans or leaves from legumes (pulses). It is economical to give goats all the good quality hay they will consume, because this is often the cheapest source of nutrients for ruminants. Dry hay should be stored for use when green fodder is unavailable. Goats also like vegetable leaves and peelings; for example, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot tops, and turnip tops (potato peelings can be toxic). These should be fed with the regular forage, not in place of it.
The forage diet of dairy goats is often supplemented with a mixture of seeds and other materials, called “concentrate.” Farm by-products are sometimes fed to goats. Among traditional by-products used in Africa are cassava waste, cottonseed meal, and rice bran. Nonconventional sources include bagasse, poultry litter, and sawdust.
The main nutritional requirements are as follows:
Energy sources, Most of the goat’s energy comes from the breakdown of the plant fiber. The rest comes from the oxidation within the body of starches and fats from concentrate. The energy content of the diet is studied in the laboratory by burning a sample and measuring the heat that is generated. The results need to be refined, because some of the energy in food is lost to the animal in the feces, urine, and gases. Moreover, the body uses some of the energy just to do the work of digestion itself. In recent years energy measurements have been refined to account for the special needs of body maintenance, weight gain, or milk production.
A continued shortage of dietary energy sources will lower milk production. Goats at the very early stages of lactation (milk production) need more energy.
Protein - Protein is the main source of dietary nitrogen, makes up the basic cell and tissue structures of the body, and is vital for growth, milk production, disease resistance, reproduction, and general maintenance. Protein quality, a term nutritionists use when referring to the amino-acid content of food, has no significance in ruminant nutrition except at exceptionally high levels of milk production. This is so because rumen microorganisms manufacture all the amino acids needed by the host animal. Excess protein, if any, is oxidized in the body for its chemical energy and the nitrogen is eliminated by the kidneys. Since protein is generally the most expensive part of the
ration, it is unwise to feed more than is needed. Protein requirements vary from 12 to 16 percent of the ration dry matter the larger figure represents the need during high milk production.
Urea and other nonprotein nitrogen products can be used by the microorganisms of the rumen for the production of protein. However, they are not generally recommended for goats because the animals adapt slowly to foods containing them.
Minerals - Most of the minerals needed by goats are obtained from forage and concentrate. The major minerals are calcium, phosphorus, and sodium (as salt). These may be added to the concentrate or made freely available. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be kept around 1.5 to 1. Equal parts of salt and dicalcium phosphate are recommended for free-choice feeding. Selenium is essential in very small amounts; in some areas of the world it must be added to the diet.
Vitamins - The only important vitamins in ruminant nutrition are A, D, and E. Generally, goats on green pastures with plenty of sunshine require no vitamin supplements. When goats are confined indoors, vitamin mix, which is not very expensive, should be added to the diet. Stored forages are poor vitamin sources.
Fats - Fats are of little importance in the ruminant diet. Practically all feeds contain small
amounts of fat, and added levels are not practical. Levels beyond 5 percent in the grain mixture are not recommended.
Water - This may be the least expensive feed ingredient, but a deficiency will affect milk production more quickly than the lack of any other nutrient. Water is not only the largest single constituent of nearly all living plant and animal tissue, but it also performs exceedingly important functions during digestion, assimilation of nutrients, excretion of waste products, control of body temperature, and production of milk. Ready access to fresh water is important. Goats with free access to water produce more milk than those watered twice daily.
Although goats can sustain themselves in dry climates better than cows and sheep, their milk production also is considerably less.
Feed Formulation in India
Researchers at Ludhiana in North India suggest a diet of high-quality roughage (fiber) and concentrate (grains). The concentrate provides sufficient protein, minerals, and vitamins. The relationship of concentrate to the quality of roughage is shown in Table 1.
Quality of Roughage and Protein Level Needed in the Concentrate
Quality Description needed, %
Poor Dry wild grasses, maize fodder, millet, 24
wheat or rice straw.
Fair Late cuttings of legume hay (without leaves) 20
mixed hay, silage from grass or maize.
Good Alfalfa, berseem, groundnut hay, good pasture 16
Excellent Extra leafy fine-stemmed alfalfa hay, berseem, 14
or excellent fertilized pasture containing
A typical concentrate contains the following ingredients, in percent by weight: maize 40, molasses 8, wheat bran 20, rice polishings 13, groundnut cake 15, salt 2, and mineral mix 2. Another formula contains: maize whole kernels or sorghum or other cereal 60; soybeans raw or (better) roasted, other legume or whole cottonseed 36, dicalcium phosphate 2, salt and trace minerals 2.
Feed materials were classified according to their protein content as low, medium, high, or very high. Examples are listed below:
* Low protein: maize, maize and cob meal, wheat, oats, barley, millet.
* Medium protein: wheat bran, rice polishings.
* High protein: copra meal, brewers dry grains, legumes.
* Very high protein: cottonseed meal, linseed meal, groundnut oil cake, soybean oil meal, dried milk, meat meal, blood meal.
It was found that, in making up a diet, any item could be substituted for another in the same class. A suitable mineral mix contained the following ingredients, in percent by weight: sterilized bone meal 35, finely ground high-grade limestone or oyster shell 45, iodized salt 20, and trace amounts of copper sulfate, cobalt sulfate, zinc sulfate, and iron chloride. This formula can be made commercially or mixed at home.
Free-Choice Feeding Experiment in Germany
German scientists studied the diets that were freely chosen by five Saanen goats over a 24-month period. Such long-term studies are important, but infrequently performed because of their high cost.
The feeds offered were mixed grass and legume hay, a concentrate mixture, fodder beets in season, or chopped grass, dried beet pulp, water, and–for three weeks–alfalfa leaf meal. The low protein content of the hay was supplemented by a concentrate made of ground oats, wheat bran, seed meals, leaf meals, and dry yeast.
Milk production in the first year was good and in the second year was well above average. The results showed clearly that free-choice feeding of dairy goats leads neither to their eating too much concentrate nor to unprofitable production costs. Furthermore, it was shown that goats require liberal amounts of water and lush feeds for high milk production. Free-choice feeding can result in good milk production, although yields may vary among animals. Moreover, high milk production is cheaper than lower milk production under free-choice feeding.
Common Feeding Systems
Feeding systems for goats are linked to local methods of growing feed crops and are classified as follows:
Village systems – It is traditional in tropical countries to maintain goats in small areas (1 to 2 ha) of land. They are tethered for limited grazing or are fed kitchen wastes, usually by women and children. Concentrates are rarely used.
Primitive extensive systems – These allow limited grazing or browsing on larger areas of land of low crop productivity. Herds of up to 15 animals are usually made up of smaller herds and are controlled and kept together by a goatherd. The goats eat what is immediately available. There are usually one to four animals per hectare. Often the goats migrate from area to area in a pattern that uses the sparse vegetation without continuous grazing. The seasonal movements, inadequate feed supplies, and infection by parasites seriously affect live weight and cause high mortality. Very extensive systems of this type are found in Africa and parts of West Asia.
Semi-intensive to intensive forage systems – The goats graze on cultivated grasses and sometimes on legumes. However, intensive grazing of pasture is not very common, mainly because the land is valuable for other purposes. Goats can efficiently use cultivated pastures for either meat or milk production. A hectare can support 16 to 60 goats depending on the type of pasture, the amount of fertilizer applied, and the presence of legumes. Available farm by-products are sometimes used to supplement the intake from pasture.
Very intensive system (stall feeding) - Requiring higher labor and capital investment, this system is not commonly practiced in the tropics, but has commercial potential. It assumes continuous management of goats and is justified by the presence of abundant supplies of farm by-product feeds. The system also enables greater control over the goats. It is common in many countries of Latin America and parts of West Asia.
Integration with cropping systems – The nature and the extent of integration depend on the types of crops (annuals or perennials) and on the relative importance of goats in the local economy. Usually the integration of goats is more common with such perennial or tree crops as coconuts, oil palm or rubber. It efficiently uses herbage undergrowth, including mainly grasses, weeds and legumes. The dry matter production of the undergrowth is variable (400 to 1,200 kg/ha). An advantage is that the land becomes more fertile due to return of feces and urine, reduced fertilizer used, control of waste herbage growth, and easier management of the main crop. Success of the system may depend on the amount of dry feed produced from herbage.
Feeding tree leaves – Tree leaves are fed to goats throughout the tropics. The amounts fed vary according to availability of material and the time needed to harvest it, as well as the duration of grazing. Leaves provide variety in the diet as well as meeting part of the requirements for energy, protein and minerals. Many tree leaves are important sources of dietary nitrogen. In Africa, these include acacia (Acacia spp.), leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala), and cassava (Manihot esculenta). These and other tree leaves are an important and underused resource.
The use of farm by-products – Farm by-products can be used effectively for feeding goats. These materials are often abundant and are not suited for human consumption. Some examples are listed above, in this section.
5. SHELTER AND SPACE
Although goats have adapted to diverse and adverse climates without the aid of man-made shelters and support, maintenance of good health and dairy productivity require minimizing the stresses associated with excessive heat, cold, humidity, and wind.
Protection from Cold and Moisture
Shelters are needed where temperatures remain below 5[degrees]C, especially if there are kids. Wooden walls and roofs are better than stone or metal constructions, which tend to accumulate condensation water, thus adding to respiratory and other health problems because of increased humidity. Open buildings or sheds are satisfactory as long as their length and depth exceed the height and the location of exits and open windows does not cause excessive drafts.
The build-up of ammonia in the shelter from the bedding, urine, and feces is easily avoided with small roof vents or rafter louvers that can be opened and shut. Roof insulation is necessary only when condensation cannot be controlled in this way. But the greatest need for insulation is on the floor, where the goats tend to lie against the cold, wet ground. Slatted false floors made of treated 5 cm x 10 cm lumber 2 cm apart on 10 cm x 10 cm cross pieces will reduce the risk of infection. Wooden slatted floors reduce the costs of bedding. Concrete floors must be avoided, even when poured upon plastic insulation sheets. A sleeping platform helps to keep the goats clean and dry.
In parts of India, dairy goats are kept in small sheds, often with a portion of the structure closed off to store feed and equipment. Bedding material is usually provided to keep the goats clean and healthy. Available bedding materials vary in their capacity to absorb urine. Spaced wood boards (as described above) make excellent bedding. Sawdust or shavings, bagasse, paddy husk, groundnut hulls, wheat straw, crushed maize cobs, and dry grass are all good, cheap, and available in many tropical countries. If nothing else is available, coarse sand can be used. To increase the effectiveness of the litter rake the droppings into it. The depth of the litter will partially depend on the price and availability of suitable materials. If they are cheap and available, use 7 to 10 cm. If less than 2.5 cm is used it will not absorb all the urine and the floor may become wet. Used bedding can be spread in fields and vegetable gardens to increase plant growth.
Protection from Heat
Goats, especially dehorned goats or those originally from temperate zones, begin to seek relief when the temperature reaches 32[degrees] C by reducing feeding activity, sharply increasing respiration and open-mouth ventilation, seeking shade, and resting on the north sides of stone walls or buildings, and inside ground-depressions, ditches, and open dirt pits. Goats with horns or coming from hot and arid zones suffer less, use the rumen as a water reservoir, and adapt with more concentrated urine, wool cover insulation and variable body temperature. Shelters in hot climates need to provide shade and plenty of air circulation through open walls. Trees can serve these functions very cheaply. Straw or hay stacks on the upper story of a shelter provide excellent insulated shade below.
Metal roofs should be painted with white sun-reflecting paint. Tropical thatched roofs are excellent if they shed rain and don’t harbor too many flies and other bothersome insects. Soil covered roofs, used in some countries, are excellent insulators, but they require strong supports and may grow grass, which invites undesirable grazing of goats on the roof.
Stilted or elevated housing is popular in hot and humid climates. Slatted board walls and flooring provide good ventilation. They also allow for clean maintenance, with easy automatic separation of feces and urine from the goats. This, in turn provides some control of internal parasites and clean udders for low bacterial counts in the milk. Overhanging roofs keep out driving rains. The feeding trough is usually placed on an outside wall and is also covered with an overhanging roof. In the tropics, a typical elevated shelter for 20 or more goats measures 20 to 80 sq m. The shelter is supported 60 to 90 cm above the ground. The roof is 150 to 200 cm above the slatted floor, sloped at about 28[degrees] (53 cm rise for each 100 cm level measure). Roof materials may include clay tiles and palm leaves. Treated floor boards or bamboo pieces are secured a finger-width apart.
Space and Fencing
Goats need and enjoy exercise. The herd manager will have fewer fence problems if space allotments are liberal and daily fresh, palatable feeds are provided generously. The minimal interior space, 2.5 sq m per adult animal, is commonly provided in tropical countries. Ten square meters is considered ideal.
A fenced area that allows 40 sq m per animal with a fence 1.5 to 1.8 m high per animal is common in most tropical countries. Fencing should allow maximum air circulation for hot weather, but should offer some winter protection against cold winds. Posts should be placed not more than 1.5m apart, and the bottom strand of wire needs to be close to the ground to stop kids from crawling underneath. High-tensile fence, barbed wire, turkey wire, timber bamboo and sticks all have pros and cons. Some sizes of wire mesh fence may be hazardous if they allow kids with horns to insert their heads and become trapped. Vertical wood or bamboo pieces also invite trapped heads. Horizontal wire on fencing invites climbing; vertical-only stockade-type fences may be too expensive or keep out cooling winds in hot weather.
A sheltered container filled with clean water should always be available. Outside hayracks should be sheltered against sun and rain, with a bottom trough to reduce waste. The same applies to outside feed troughs, best placed below hayracks and along fences to reduce hay wastage, keep out feces, and facilitate filling and cleaning.
Extensive goat management systems based upon pasture feeding and migration sometimes use only night-time shelters. Goats may travel far during day-time grazing; night shelters are traditionally provided in many countries for safety and comfort.
6. MILK AND MILKING
The world’s dairy goat production has grown partly because of a trend toward increasing self sufficiency by people in many countries. A goat eats little, occupies a small are, and produces enough milk for the average unitary family (an average doe will give about 2 L a day); whereas the prospect of maintaining a cow at home is often more than the homeowner can cope with. Hence the growing popularity of goat as the “poor-person’s cow.”
As the interest in dairy goats continues to rise, it is important to address many misconceptions and exaggerated claims. A comparison of cow and goat milk will erase some prejudices against goat milk. And while goat milk is somewhat unique, it is certainly not a magical elixir.
A persistent objection to goat milk is that it has a peculiar “goaty” odor or taste. The presence of a buck among does at milking time can result in this objectionable feature. Another major cause of off-flavored milk is low-grade udder infection (subclinical mastitis).
Diet affects the taste and odor of both goat and cow milk. Although the diet of cows is usually closely watched. goats are often allowed to consume a great variety of materials at any time. Such unmonitored feeding may allow objectionable tastes or odors to be transferred to the milk, if it occurs within two hours of milking. If goats and cows are similarly managed, the smell and taste of both milks are sweet and neutral.
Goat milk is similar to cow milk in its basic composition (see Table 2).
Average Composition of Goat and Cow Milk
Dry matter, Percent of
Percent Protein Fat Lactose Mineral matter
Goat 12.1 3.4 3.8 4.1 0.8
Cow 12.2 3.2 3.6 4.7 0.7
However, there are also differences that give goat’s milk a special place in human diets. For example, in Third World countries where meat consumption is low, goat milk is an important daily food source of protein, phosphate, and calcium not available otherwise because of a lack of cow milk. Calves can consume large quantities of goat milk while similar amounts of cow milk may cause dysentery. Goat milk can, therefore, be used not only for growing veal, but also for raising valuable dairy replacement heifers, which will benefit from the high milk intake and show superior growth.
The Saanen breed is best known as the Holstein (a very productive dairy cow) of the goat world, producing a large quantity of milk with somewhat low fat levels. At the other extreme is the Jersey of the goat world, the Nubian. This breed produces a lesser amount of milk with a high fat content. The Toggenburg, Oberhasli, and Alpine give milk with intermediate values, as does the La Mancha, a breed not listed above.
Whether goats are milked by hand or by machine, care must be taken to produce a clean, wholesome product and to prevent injury to or infection of the udder.
Non-commercial herds use mostly hand-milking, which requires few facilities and little equipment. There is no minimum number of goats required for machine milking, because the convenience and reduced discomfort to the person’s hands, wrists and arms may outweigh considerations of efficiency or economics. Portable single or double milking machines are easily assembled, washed, and maintained. Although machine milking is not covered in this paper, a brief description of hand milking follows for the goat herder who wants to produce a quality product.
In contrast to cows, the milking of goats is routinely done in different ways and schedules, depending on tradition, convenience, and budget. In most countries goats are milked twice a day, 12 hours apart. Routine, once-daily milking is not recommended. The doe’s udder produces milk throughout the day and night, but production is slowed as milk accumulates. During the height of lactation heavy producers can be milked three times a day at eight-hour intervals to relieve pressure in the udder. This procedure often yields more milk.
Milking equipment should include a strip cup, a seamless milking pail, and a milk strainer with a filter that is thrown away after each milking. Goats should be milked in an environment free of dust, odors, dogs, and disturbing noises.
To produce clean milk it is necessary to have clean equipment, a clean area for milking, healthy goats, clean clothes, and clean hands. The milker’s hands (short fingernails) should be washed with hot water and soap before starting, and before moving from one animal to another. Hands should be washed after cleaning feces from the udder. The udder can be washed with a clean cloth, but both the udder and hands should be dried before milking.
The first stream or two of milk should directed through a fine wire mesh, such as a tea strainer, into a separate strip cup so that the presence of flaky milk, which is often an indication of mastitis (discussed later) can be detected.
Dairy goats should be milked dry at each milking. When some experienced milkers think they have milked the goat thoroughly they will often push the udder gently a few times and run the index finger and thumb down each teat until they have “stripped” out the last drop of milk. The advantages of this procedure are not entirely clear.
As soon as the milk has been collected from the doe, it should be poured through a single-use filter. The milk should be cooled promptly and rapidly (to as near 0[degree]C as possible) to ensure good flavor and retard the growth of bacteria. Air cooling is not recommended; the closed container may be cooled by immersing it in ice water with frequent stirring. After cooling, the container of milk should be taken promptly to the consumer, stored in a refrigerator, or immersed in ice water. Unnecessary temperature changes can cause bad flavor.
All milking equipment should be rinsed in warm water immediately after use and then washed in hot water to which a mild chlorine solution and detergent are added. Finally the utensils should be rinsed in clean, preferably boiling, water and kept in a dust-free place to dry.
7. PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF DISEASE
Although often considered one of the healthiest of all domesticated animals, goats are susceptible to the same diseases that affect cattle and sheep. If infected cattle or sheep are nearby try to prevent contact with them. The occurrence of disease may be affected by locality, amount of space given to each goat, the feeding program, and housing, as well as the general health of the individual goats and the amount of exposure to infected animals or parasites.
In many parts of the tropics vaccinations against goat pox, rinderpest, and foot-and-mouth disease are generally advised. In addition, goats are usually tested routinely for brucellosis (Malta Fever, Bang’s Disease), tuberculosis, and mastitis. Diarrhea, caused by bacterial infections, viruses, or coccidia, can also be troublesome. In addition to infectious diseases, goats sometimes suffer from such noncontagious ailments as pneumonia, wound infections, milk fever (parturient paresis), bloat (tympanites), external and internal parasites, and plant poisoning.
Ideally, the diagnosis and treatment of goat diseases should be left to a veterinarian. The importance of an accurate diagnosis cannot be over-emphasized because the treatment is determined by the cause of the ailment. However, veterinary services are often too costly for people who keep goats, except in the most urgent cases. Fortunately, most goatkeepers can acquire enough basic knowledge to cope with basic problems.
No doubt, it is always better to prevent disease than to have to treat infected animals! Some precautions needed to maintain the health of a goat herd are listed below:
1. Avoid involvement in goat trading or trafficking.
2. Buy young kids preferably from healthy goat farms where diseases are under control and the animals look healthy.
3. Separate kids from adults immediately at birth and feed them pasteurized milk.
4. Isolate a goat that becomes sick.
5. Do not allow equipment to be brought to the goat farm from locations where the goats are
6. Keep visitors from walking around in the goat house or corral.
7. If possible, get an accurate and early diagnosis from a qualified veterinarian if evidence of a
8. Use medications only when necessary.
9. Consider goat droppings as a potential source of disease.
10. Eliminate ticks, lice, and mites, and control predatory animals.
11. Keep the goat herd separated from sheep and cattle.
12. Use good business ethics and do not sell diseased goats to an unsuspecting buyer.
13. Keep the goat house clean and dry.
14. Trim hooves at least four times yearly. Brush goats when needed to remove loose hair and
dirt that might contaminate the milk.
15. Keep feces out of the feed and water: keep goats’ feet out of hay racks and keep feed and
water containers above tail level.
16. Keep fresh water available and uncontaminated.
Belanger, J., Raising Milk Goats the Modern Way. Charlotte, Vermont: Garden Way Publishing Co., 1975.
Child, R.D., et al.. Arid and Semiarid Lands: Sustainable Use and Management in Developing Countries. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1984. Also, Morrilton, Arkansas: Winrock International, 1984.
Haenlein, George and Donald L. Ace (eds.), Extension Goat Handbook. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1994. Also, Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware, 1984.
Mackenzie, David, Goat Husbandry. Boston: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1980.
National Research Council, Committee on Animal Nutrition. Nutrient Requirements of Goats: Angora, Dairy and Meat Goats in Temperate and Tropical Countries. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1981.
Sands, M and R.E. McDowell. The Potential of the Goat for Milk Production in the Tropics. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1972.
Sinn, Rosalee, Raising Goats for Milk and Meat. Little Rock, Arkansas: Heifer Project International, 1984.
Thedford, T.R., Goat Health Handbook: A Field Guide for Producers with Limited Veterinary Experience. Morrilton, Arkansas: Winrock International, 1983.
Understanding Dairy Goat Production, Volunteers in Technical Assistance
By pinoyfarmer | August 8, 2007
People need more rice to eat
1. In many parts of the world people eat a lot of rice.
But nowadays more people eat more rice than in the past.
Rice is 8 very good food.
In order to live, digest, work, resist the cold and the heat, people need foods that give them strength.
These are called energy foods.
Rice is an excellent energy food.
Rice keeps well.
Rice does not rot if it is protected from damp.
Rice can be kept a very long time if it is protected from rats and insects.
2. But some regions do not produce enough rice. Nearly all the countries of Africa have to buy rice abroad.
The countries of Africa spend on rice imports a lot of money that could be used in other ways.
If Africa produced more rice, it could sell rice to other countries with a large rice- eating population. In this way Africa could earn more money.
3. Farmers must therefore produce more rice.
There are many regions of Africa, for example, where rice can be grown: along the banks of streams and rivers, around dams, at the bottom of valleys.
But in order to increase rice production, it is necessary to adopt modern methods of rice cultivation.
In this booklet, we shall speak only about upland rice cultivation. In Booklet 21, we speak about wet paddy rice cultivation.
The two methods of cultivation are quite different.
Traditional cultivation of upland rice
4. Farmers work only with the hoe. They do not prepare the soil properly.
Farmers apply neither manure nor fertilizers: the rice takes all the mineral salts out of the soil and the soil soon loses its fertility.
After 2 or 3 years of rice crops, the soil must be left fallow, to rest.
This means that new fields have to be cleared.
With the traditional method of growing rice, farmers have little work to do, but they produce and sell little rice.
Yields are low.
Disadvantages of traditional cultivation
5. Traditional methods use simple tools only.
When farmers have burned the brush and cleared the field, they cannot prepare the soil properly, because they use only a hoe.
They can only scratch the earth and mix the ashes into the soil.
Like this, farmers cannot get a good harvest.
Brush fires ruin the soil.
Fire destroys the organic matter. It is true that the ashes enrich the soil, but the burned vegetation produces no humus and does not improve the soil structure.
Fire leaves the soil bare: erosion is more severe.
The soil is not loosened.
Water and air do not penetrate into the soil.
Roots cannot go deep enough into the soil to take up water and mineral salts.
The plants are not well nourished.
They do not produce many large grains of rice. The harvest is not plentiful.
6. No fertilizers are applied.
When a piece of land bears a crop for the first time, the plants take up all the mineral salts for their nourishment.
The soil soon becomes very poor.
After two or three years, the field must be left fallow. It takes a long time until the soil is again fertile.
Farmers have to leave the old fields fallow and to look for new fields: this is called shifting cultivation.
7. It la time to stop shifting cultivation.
With shifting cultivation, a great deal of land is unused and yields no crop.
With shifting cultivation, farmers have to do a lot of work in clearing new fields every year. They often lose much time when crops should be sown.
The population is increasing. Bigger harvests are needed to feed it.
There is a very modern method of growing rice. But farmers cannot adopt this modern method at once: they have not enough tools and not enough money.
How to improve upland rice cultivation
8. Farmers can use new implements
With animals and 8 plough the soil can be prepared better and more quickly. It is also possible to cultivate larger fields.
On a well- prepared soil the seed can be sown in rows. This makes it easier to remove weeds.
By preparing the soil, sowing in rows and weeding, yields can be greatly increased, even doubled.
9. They can apply manure and fertilizers.
Once farmers have used new tools they get a bigger harvest and more money. With the money they earn, the farmers can buy fertilizers.
If the plants are given manure or fertilizer, they will be well nourished. The harvest will be bigger, and the soil keeps its fertility. The same fields can grow crops for a longer time.
Once the farmers use new tools and also apply manure and fertilizers, they are growing upland rice by very modern methods.
10. They can protect the rice against pests.
It is difficult to keep off the rats and the birds. You can have a watchman near the field. Noise can frighten the birds away. Rice fields must be watched especially at the time when the grain begins to ripen.
There are also certain insects that damage rice, for example, rice borers, which lay their eggs on the leaves. When they grow, they eat through the stem. When the stems go white, apply BHC (benzene hexachloride) and Aldrin, a product which can kill these insects. Ask your extension service for this product.
Using new implements
11. A plough, a harrow and a hoe drawn by animals help you work better and more quickly.
You can cultivate larger fields.
This will give you a more plentiful harvest.
Every year, you will earn a little more money. That way, you can pay for new implements and keep on making new progress.
As these implements are drawn by animals, you use the strength of the animals.
In studying animal husbandry, we have already seen how to use animals.
If you wish to use animal power, read Booklets 8, 9, 11 and 14 of this series.
Now we shall study how to plough, sow and cultivate. With good ploughing, good sowing, and several cultivations, you will get much more plentiful harvests.
12. With a plough and a harrow the soil is better prepared.
The plough loosens the soil and tills it more deeply. The roots of the rice develop better, the rice gets more nourishment.
The soil is prepared more quickly.
You will be able to sow at the right time. It is very important to sow at the right time.
You will also be able to sow larger fields.
If you sow larger fields at the right time, your rice production will be much larger.
13. A hoe helps to remove weeds more quickly.
Whenever weeds have grown, you can remove them more quickly.
Then the weeds do not take water and mineral salts out of the soil.
The rice can use all the nourishment from the soil.
But in order to cultivate with a hoe, you must sow in rows.
The use of plough and hoe greatly increases the yield.
Preparing the soil
Most often, rice is sown on a field that has already been cultivated perhaps after a crop of yams, or groundnuts, or cotton.
The work of clearing the field has already been done before growing yams, or groundnuts or cotton.
Before sowing, you must prepare the soil; that is, you must till it.
If you till 15 to 20 centimetres deep, this will stir the earth very well. Do this work with the plough or the hoe.
Tilling loosens the soil; it gets air and water well into the soil.
Tilling enables you to mix the herbage with the soil. When the herbage rots, it makes humus.
On flat land, if a soil has been well loosened by tilling, the water penetrates well and stays for a long time. Therefore, till at the beginning of the rainy season, so that the soil holds the water. This first tilling is very important; do it just as soon as you can move the soil.
Slopes should not be tilled where there is a danger of rain carrying the soil away.
Tilling, or turning the soil over, can be done with the hoe, the spade or the digging fork. But this is slow and tiring work.
Nowadays, people use a plough drawn by donkeys or oxen.
This way the work is done better and more quickly.
15. The plough.
Most often, people use a simple plough. The plough consists of a ploughshare, a mouldboard and two handles
Handles for holding the plough
16. How to plough.
Make a first furrow with the plough across the whole length of the field.
At the end of the field, turn. Make a second furrow alongside the first.
The second strip of ploughed field joins the first.
After that, keep turning around the double strip of ploughed field.
This is called conventional ploughingthe field is divided into ploughed lance separated by a furrow.
17. Now the field is well ploughed. But ploughing often does not leave the soil flat. There are clods of earth
These clods of earth are broken up with a harrow. If you do not have a harrow, you can let an animal draw big branches of trees over the field. The branches crush the clods.
The branches crush the clods
18. Choosing the seeds.
If you have already grown a rice crop, choose the best seeds from your own harvest. Remove broken rice grains, misshapen grains, and grains attacked by insects.
It is best to use selected seeds.
If you have worked hard to prepare your field very well, you will get a better harvest if your seeds are well chosen.
The extension services and research centres have selected rice varieties best suited to the climate of each region, disease- resisting varieties which provide high yields.
Once you have chosen good seeds, use the finest seeds of your own harvest for sowing in the following years.
19. Disinfecting the seeds.
The disinfectant is available from the extension services. Mix the seeds and the disinfectant very well, so that the disinfectant covers all the seeds.
For example, you might mix 200 grammes of a disinfectant such as Crgan with 100 kilogrammes of rice seed.
20. Disinfectant is poisonous
Be very careful in using it:
- Wash your hands well after touching the disinfectant.
- Never give disinfected seeds to animals.
- Never leave the disinfectant where children can get at it.
Disinfected seeds are not eaten by insects. Disinfected seeds do not rot easily. All the seeds will grow, there will be very few plants missing.
Disinfection makes for good density, and so the yield is better.
Device for disinfecting seeds
21. Sowing in rows.
Farmers have the habit of broadcasting their seed.
If the seed is broadcast, it is very difficult later to remove the weeds.
If the seed is sown in rows, it is easier to remove weeds.
The animal that draws the hoe can walk between the rows.
On flat soil, you can trace your rows with a marker. Leave 40 centimetres between rows. The spikes of the marker make a little furrow.
In this furrow, put your rice seeds.
Leave 1 to 2 centimetres between seeds. Cover the seeds with a little earth.
You will need between 30 and 50 kilogrammes of seed for 1 hectare.
22. On net soil you can use a seed- planting machine, called a seed drill.
In several countries people are beginning to use these seed drills, which are drawn by a donkey or by oxen. The seed drill makes a furrow and places the seeds in the soil at the same distance from each other and all at the same depth.
With some seed drills the fertilizer can be applied at the same time.
Use a seed- planting machine
23. If the field is on a slope, make the seed rows along the contour lines and leave barrier strips between the different levels of soil.
This helps to reduce erosion.
Fast- flowing water carries away some soil.
It is dirty water mixed with soil.
When you slow up the water, the soil in the water drops to the ground.
The water becomes cleaner and the soil is not lost.
What is a contour line? Look at these two drawings.
Liass in the direction of the slope
These lines follow the direction of the slope. Water flows very fast and carries away the soil.
Lines across the slope
These lines cut across the slope along the contour lines. Water and soil are held back.
A contour line is a line across the slope running always at the same height.
24. What is a barrier strip?
A barrier strip is an uncultivated strip of land. Grass grows on this strip and holds back the water so that the soil drops to the ground. The barrier strips must also follow the contour lines. A barrier strip should be about 2 metres wide.
To hold back the water better, you can plant tall grasses.
If the slope is very gentle, you can leave 30 to 40 metres between barrier strips.
If the slope is steeper, leave only 10 to 20 metres between barrier strips.
Do not grow rice if the slope is very steep.
Do not grow rice if the slope is very steep
Cultivate 15 to 20 days after sowing, and again whenever fresh weeds have grown.
25. Why cultivations are needed.
Cultivating means removing weeds by hoeing.
Weeds prevent the rice from growing well:
- they take water out of the soil
- they take mineral salts out of the soil.
When you cultivate well the buds at the bottom of the main stem can develop and make new stems. This is called tillering.
For every grain you sow, you will get several stems and every stem makes a head or panicle of rice.
26. How to cultivate.
You can cultivate either with a hand hoe or with an animal- drawn cultivator. With an animal- drawn cultivator, the work is done more quickly and you can cultivate more often.
Whenever you see that weeds have grown, you must remove them.
Pull out the weeds that have grown between the rows. If any weeds grow in the rows, pull them out by hand. Remove the side teeth of the cultivator so that you can pass with it between the rows.
Rice sown on a well- prepared field, at the right time and In rows, and protected by frequent cultivations, will give a good harvest.
27. You are now ready for further progress.
If you use new tools and also apply fertilizers, you will be growing upland rice by very modern methods. You have seen how you can make good use of animal- drawn tools.
You can get a good harvest if you:
- till your field well
- sow well
- weed well
- cultivate a larger field,
You will find that you earn more money.
With the money earned from your crop, you can buy fertilizers
We shall now study how to use fertilizers so that you can earn a lot more money. If you use fertilizers, you keep the soil fertile or even make it more fertile.
Once you do that, you change from shifting cultivation to continuous cultivation.
Why apply manure or chemical fertilizers?
28. To get a good harvest
It you apply manure or chemical fertilizers to your rice field, the rice will tiller vigorously (see paragraph 25) and bear many grains: The yield will be good.
29. To keep the soil rich
Chemical fertilizers give back to the soil the mineral salts which the plants take out. Manure gives the soil organic matter. It makes humus and improves the soil structure.
To keep the soil rich
30. Chemical fertilizers and manure cost a lot of money.
They will not pay
- if you grow your crop on too steep a elope the mineral salts of the manure and fertilizers are washed away by water together with the soil.
- if you do not till the soil well because in badly prepared soil the roots cannot develop well.
- if you do not sow selected varieties because unimproved varieties use the manure and fertilizers less well.
- if you do not sow your seeds in rows and at the right time because plants sown too late will not yield so well.
- if you do not cultivate about 3 weeks after sowing and whenever new weeds grow because with fertilizers, the weeds grow better. If you do not remove them often, they may take a large part of the nourishment from the rice.
- if you do not rotate your crops correctly
After 8 rice crop, the soil will still have some of the mineral salts added by the manure and the chemical fertilizers. You must make the right choice of the crop you will grow on the same field after the rice. If possible, choose one that will use the mineral salts still in the soil.
The money earned from a good crop will easily pay for the fertilizers you need.
What fertilizers to use
31. Fertilizers are different.
- according to the crop rotation:
Plants do not all take the same quantity of each mineral salt out of the soil. Before sowing rice, you must therefore give back to the soil the mineral salts taken out by the preceding crop.
These mineral salts are contained in chemical fertilizers.
- according to regions:
The soils of different regions are often different; they do not contain the same quantity of each mineral salt.
For example, a soil very poor in nitrogen must be given a lot of nitrogen.
You can see that a soil is poor in nitrogen if the young leaves turn yellow.
Organic manure and chemical fertilizers
32. Organic manures are animal manure and green manure.
Organic manures improve the structure of the soil. Plants grow better in a soil of good structure, and the chemical fertilizers are used better.
Organic manuring should therefore be done at the beginning of the rotation, that is, before growing the first crop on a field.
If in the first year after clearing the field you grow a crop of yams and the second year you grow rice, you must apply organic manure in the first year before you plant your yams.
33. Chemical fertilizers.
You know that the main chemical fertilizers are:
- Nitrogen (N)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Potassium (K)
Rice needs above all nitrogen.
The nitrogen fertilizer most often suitable for the soils of Africa is ammonium sulfate.
But rice also needs phosphorus and potassium. If the rice cannot take out of the soil enough phosphorus and potassium, the stems are not strong and so they bend down to the earth so that the grains cannot form and ripen well.
Ask advice from the extension services in your area. They will tell you how much fertilizer to apply to your rice field.
It is best to apply nitrogen, that is, ammonium sulfate, in three separate applications:
It you have to give your field 100 kilogrammes of ammonium sulfate, apply:
- 40 kg before sowing,
- 30 kg after the first cultivation,
- 30 kg when you see the panicles are forming.
Be careful not to let ammonium sulfate, get onto the leaves; the fertilizer may burn them.
Phosphoric acid and potassium are applied before sowing.
You will get a better price for your rice crop
- If you cut your rice only when it is ripe
- If the rice is well dried and threshed
- If it has been well stored.
Cut the rice when it is ripe.
Wait until the heads are almost entirely yellow.
You can cut the rice more quickly with a sickle.
Cut the rice
When you have cut the rice, make sheaves by binding a lot of stems together. There are two ways of drying sheaves well.
Wither: Stack the sheaves so that they lean against each other, standing upright with heads upward, and place one sheaf over the top of the heads, so as to protect the grains from the rain;
Or: Lean the sheaves against a stick supported by two poles.
Either way the rice can dry well.
Leave the rice to dry for three or four days before threshing.
Sheaves leaning against a stick supported by 2 poles
There are three ways of threshing well.
Wither: Put the rice on a hard piece of ground, very clean and without dust, or covered with mats, and beat the heads with a stick;
Or: Beat the rice against a large stone or a tree trunk;
Or Use a small thresher. You can join with a few other farmers and buy a small thresher together. In this way the work can be done better and more quickly.
Small rice thresher
It is important that the rice grains should be very clean, and not mixed up with earth and little stones. When you have threshed your rice, winnow it to make it quite clean.
For winnowing, use a sieve or else pour the rice from one flat bowl into another.
The wind blows the dirt away
Rice can be stored either in sacks or in a barn.
The sacks and the barn must be protected
- against damp, which makes the grains rot
- against rats and insects, which eat or spoil the grains.
The barn floor must not touch the ground. This will keep the rice dry.
The barns must be disinfected. Ask the local extension service what disinfectants to use and how to apply them: some disinfectants are poisonous.
Rice can be eaten by the family. Rice can also be sold, either on the market or to companies which resell it afterwards.
Rice is a crop which can pay well.
Better Farming Series 20 – Upland Rice (FAO – INADES, 1977, 30 p.)
By pinoyfarmer | August 6, 2007
The cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) is a native of the dense tropical Amazon forests where it flourishes in the semi-shade and high humidities, but wild varieties also occur from Mexico to Peru. The Mayas of Yucatan and the Aztecs of Mexico cultivated cocoa long before its introduction to Europe, and Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs, is stated to have consumed regularly a preparation called chocolate made by roasting and grinding the cocoa nibs, followed by mashing with water, maize, anatto, chilli and spice flavours. The richness of this mixture no doubt had some connection with the Aztec belief that the cocoa tree was of divine origin and later led the Swedish botanist, Linnaeus, to give the name Theobroma - Food of the Gods – to the genus including the cacao species. The Aztecs also considered the drink to have aphrodisiac properties.
The genus Theobroma consists of some twenty-two species of small bushes and trees.
Theobroma cacao is the only one of commercial value and this species is divided into two main groups:
There is a third group known as Trinitario which is basically a cross of the two.
The growing conditions required by the cocoa tree are fairly precise and the areas of cultivation lie within 20 degrees latitude of the equator.
The temperature in cocoa growing areas is usually between 30C and 32C. The minimum
allowable is 18C.
Rainfall levels of 1,150 to 3,000mm are required.
Soil conditions can vary considerably but a firm roothold and moisture retention are necessary.
It is traditional for cocoa to be grown under shade trees although such conditions
resemble those in its natural habitat it has been shown that higher yields can be obtained
without shade if sufficient moisture and nutrients are made available.
Propagation by seed is the most economical way of increasing stock but vegetative
methods can also be used and these provide a more consistent and reliable method of
reproducing trees of particular strains.
Cocoa beans are fermented not just to remove the adhering pulp but also develop the distinctive flavour of cocoa. Correct fermentation and drying of cocoa is of vital importance and no subsequent processing of the bean will correct bad practice at this stage. A good flavour in the final cocoa or chocolate is related closely to good fermentation but if the drying after fermentation is delayed moulds will develop which will produce very unpleasant flavours.
After the pods are cut from the trees the beans with the adhering pulp are removed. Fermentation is carried out in a variety of ways but all depend on heaping a quantity of fresh beans with their pulp and allowing micro-organisms to ferment and to produce heat. Most beans are fermented in heaps. Better results are obtained by the use of fermentation boxes which give more even
Fermentation takes five to six days. Forastero beans take rather longer to ferment than Criollo. During the first day the adhering pulp becomes liquid and drains away. By the third day the mass of beans will have fairly even heated to 45 oC and will remain between this temperature and about 50 oC until fermentation is completed. It is necessary to occasionally stir the beans to aerate and to ensure that the beans initially on the outside of the heap are exposed to temperature conditions prevailing in the interior.
After fermentation the beans are placed in shallow trays to dry. In some growing areas where the main harvest coincides with the dry season, sun drying is adequate. The beans are dried by being spread out in the sun in layers a few centimetres thick. Sun drying trays may be movable on rails so that they can be pushed under canopies. Where the weather is less sunny, artificial driers are used. There are numerous types of dryers but an essential feature of all must be that any smoky products of combustion do not come in contact with the beans otherwise taints will appear in the final product. Some system involve the complete combustion of the fuel so that the flue gases can be used to dry the beans.
The beans are cleaned to remove the following extraneous matter: bean clusters and other large pieces using rocking and vibratory sieves; light material like dust, loose shell and fibre using a gentle upward air stream; iron particles using a magnetic separator and stones and heavy material using a fluidised bed with air aspiration to lift the coca beans. It may also be necessary to grade the coca beans according to size to ensure even roasting.
This is the most important stage in the development of flavour. This can be achieved by roasting the whole bean, the cocoa bean cotyledon or even the ground cocoa bean cotyledon (cocoa mass). For chocolate production the roasting temperatures are 100C to 104C. For cocoa powder production higher temperatures of 120 to 135C are used. There are many designs of roasters: both batch and continuous systems. The operation is controlled so that: the nib is heated to the required temperature without burning the shell or the cotyledon and producing undesirable flavours; the heat is applied evenly over a long period of up to 90 minutes to produce even roasting; the nib must not be contaminated with any combustion products from the fuel used and provision must be made for the escape of any volatile acids, water vapour and decomposition products of the nib. After roasting the beans are cooled quickly to prevent scorching
The shell will have been already loosened by the roasting. The beans are then lightly crushed with the object of preserving large pieces of shell and nib and avoiding the creation of small particles and dust. The older winnows used toothed rollers to break up the beans but modern machines are fitted with impact rollers. These consist of two hexagonal rollers running in the same direction that throw the beans against metal plates . The cocoa bean without its shell is known as a cocoa nib. The valuable part of the cocoa bean is the nib, the outer shell being a waste material of little value.
The crushed material is winnowed to remove the broken pieces of shell. This is achieved by sieving and blowing air through the material.
Alkalisation is a treatment that is sometimes used before and sometimes after grinding to modify the colour and flavour of the product. This was developed in the Netherlands in the last century and is sometimes known as Dutching. This involves soaking the nib or the cocoa mass in potassium or sodium carbonate. By varying the ratio of alkali to nib, a wide range of colours of cocoa powder can be produced. Complete nib penetration may take an hour. After alkalization the cocoa needs to be dried slowly.
The cocoa nib is ground into cocoa liquor (also known as unsweetened chocolate or cocoa
mass). The grinding process generates heat and the dry granular consistency of the nib is turned into a liquid as the high amount of fat contained in the nib melts.
Production of cocoa butter
Cocoa butter can be extracted using extrusion, expeller, or screw presses. Cocoa butter can be produced from whole beans, and mixtures of fine nib dusts, small nibs, and immature beans. Sometimes, whole nibs are pressed when the expeller cake is needed for the manufacture of coatings and therefore must be free from shell and as low as possible in cocoa butter content. When pressing whole beans, very light roasting or even no roasting is needed, and this gives the mild-flavoured cocoa butter that is desirable for milk chocolate.
Hydraulic presses are used to produce cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Cocoa powder can be prepared by the hydraulic pressing of finely ground cocoa liquor. This can be achieved by compressing the liquor in heavy steel pots until a predetermined amount of cocoa butter is squeezed through very fine mesh screens or filters situated at each side of the pot. The pots, each with a capacity of about 18kg, are mounted in a horizontal frame and the cocoa liquor, heated to 93-102 oC, is pumped in at a pressure of up to 300lb per square inch. Cocoa butter immediately starts to be forced out through the filter screens and when the pots are full the pressure pump is turned off and a hydraulic ram set in motion. A pressure of up to 6000lb per square inch is then applied. Cocoa butter runs from the pots to a trough and eventually to a collecting pan situated on a balance. When the required amount of cocoa butter has been extracted the ram is reversed to the starting position, the press pots open up and the cocoa cakes from each pot are deposited on a conveyor and taken away for grinding. The extracted cocoa butter will need to be cleaned to remove non-fat solids in suspension, this can be done by filtration or centrifugally. Cocoa butter produced by this method is normally a very pale yellow
colour and it sets at a fairly hard fat showing crystal formation. Its melting point is 35 oC (Glossop, 1993).
Cocoa beans for expeller pressing are either very lightly roasted at low temperatures or not roasted at all. They may be just warmed sufficiently to loosen the shell. The beans are steamed before being fed to the press to soften them and help release the cocoa butter. Basically the expeller press consists of a tapering tube perforated along its length in which is situated a rotating screw. The cocoa beans are fed into the tube where they are subjected to shearing and increasing pressure by the action of the rotating screw. Cocoa butter is forced out through then perforations in the tube. The tube is terminated by an adjustable cone which gives a variable gap between the tube and the cone. Thick flakes of expeller cake are extruded through this gap. The extracted fat must be filtered or centrifugally separated to remove cocoa solids. Expeller cake contains 8-9 percent fat and this can be extracted using organic solvents.
Cocoa butter can be produced at the large scale by solvent extraction. It should be noted that it is unlikely that solvent-extracted cocoa butter would alone account for the added cocoa butter in a chocolate. Generally, it would be incorporated in a butter blend at the rate of 2 to 5 percent.
The production of cocoa powder
The cocoa powder is taken from the press as a cake. It is broken in a mill. The resulting powder is sieved through fine silk, nylon or wire mesh. Most cocoa powders are made from mass which has been treated with alkali with the purpose of controlling the colour of the powder and improving the dispersability.
The production of plain chocolate
To produce plain chocolate mass is mixed with sugar and sufficient cocoa butter to enable thechocolate to be moulded. The ratio of mass to sugar varies according to the national taste.
The mixture is ground to such a degree that the chocolate is smooth to the palate. At one time this was done by a lengthy process in melengeurs – heavy granite rollers in a revolving granite bed – but nowadays grinding is done in a series of rolls.
After grinding the chocolate is conched. The original conche was a tank shaped rather like a shell in which a roller is pushed to and fro on a granite bed. During the conching process which may last for several hours the chocolate is heated, this helps to drive off volatile acids, thereby reducing acidity when present in the raw bean, and the process finishes the development of flavour and makes the chocolate homogeneous.
After conching the chocolate has to be tempered before it is used for moulding. Tempering
involves cooling and reaching the right physical state for rapid setting after moulding.
The production of milk chocolate
Similar processes are involved in the manufacture of milk chocolate. The milk is added in various ways either in powder form to the mixture of mass, sugar and cocoa butter, or by condensing first with sugar, adding the mass and drying this mixture under vacuum. This product is called crumb and this is ground and conched in a similar manner to plain chocolate.
Wood, Lass Pub. Longman 1989
Covers the areas of cultivation, pest & disease, and marketing
Small-scale Processing of Cocoa, Food Chain
Journal No23, ITDG, July 1998
International Cocoa Organization (ICCO)
22 Berners Street, London, W1P 3DB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7637 3211
Fax: +44 (0)20 7631 0114
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: http://www.icco.org/index.htm
Front Office Department of Plant Sciences
6709 PD Wageningen
(building nr. 508)
+31 317 483915
+31 317 484855
By pinoyfarmer | August 6, 2007
There are several different types of banana chips:
Banana figs -These are bananas which are cut into slices and then dried either in the sun
or by artificial means.
Savoury banana chips -These are banana slices which have been predried for a short
period of time (eg 5 -6 hours) until they have a slight rubbery texture. It is difficult to give
an exact drying time as bananas will have differing water contents. In such cases it is
best to test by trial and error. After drying, the slices are fried in hot oil until they turn a
golden brown colour. They are drained in order to remove the excess oil, and
subsequently flavoured with a variety of spices.
Sweet banana chips -These are bananas slices which have either been soaked or dipped
in a strong sugar syrup or honey.
This technical brief is based on an investigation of what a Sweet banana chips project might look like as an income generating activity for the NGO Savings Group in Bangladesh.
Banana chips are crispy snack food similar to potato chips. Most producers use plantains rather than desert bananas. Chips are normally made from under ripe fruits by frying the slices in oil.
Green bananas are available in many parts of Bangladesh. There are two types of ANAS bananas. One variety is fatter and shorter with a short stem. The end tapers to a thin point. This banana has a soft skin. The other type is longer and thinner with a longer stem. The end of the banana is
thicker; it does not taper to a point. The skin is harder and thinner. The second type of banana (long type) is preferred.
The market for banana chips might be considered to be primarily children of school age. Label, design, and promotional materials might also be targeted to this group.
Preservatives / Additives
A preservative is any substance which, when added to a food, prevents or retards its spoilage. The additives contribute texture, taste, and colour to the product.
Sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, benzoic acid, ascorbic acid, and citric acid.
Consist of immersing of product in water at a temperature of 95 C for a variable period of
time. The temperature and the duration depend on the species, its state of maturity and its size.
Use of Sulphites
Bi-sulphite of sodium, potassium, and calcium Meta bisulphites of Sodium and potassium.
Use of sodium bicarbonate
Acidity and pH
Acidity may be expressed in terms of hydrogen ion concentration, a solution being described is acidic if its hydrogen ion concentration is greater than 10. A solution is basic if its hydrogen ion concentration is less than 10. ie pH = -log (H)
Enzymes may cause deterioration of foods, they can also be used in food processing to
produce particular products or modify the characteristics of particular products.
Micro organism grow only when water is available. Water activity aw has been coined to
express the degree of availability of water in food.
One of the major problems in storage of food material, changes taking place in lipids is
generally referred to as rancidity.
Banana chips processing
It is important that they are sliced to an even thickness to avoid some being undercooked and others overcooked. The best way to do this is with either a hand vegetable slicer (commonly used on restaurants and hotels) or at larger scale with a rotating slicer of the type used to cut ham and bacon.
- Weigh green bananas
- Drain out water
- Drain out oil
Green banana, Anaj (long type)
Food colour Lemon-yellow, food grade.
Common salt sodium chloride
Spices Red chilli powder, Cumin powder.
Frying spoon. Tea spoon
Balance (Triple beame)
Balance capacity – 3 Kg
These products use a relatively low level of technology and require very little equipment,
however, there is the constraint of marketing. Bananas are most usually consumed in the
fresh state. To sell banana products therefore requires some very effective marketing.
In Sri Lanka banana chips were marketed as a snack food to be consumed with drinks prior to a meal. Another example is of dried and flavoured chips marketed as a healthy alternative to sweets and snackfoods, and aimed heavily at school children. These examples show that it is not only important to get the technology right, but the marketing is a vital area. It is therefore very important to assess the market for these products prior to production and evaluate the expected demands.
References and further reading
Adding Value to Bananas Food Chain No 21, July 1997, ITDG
Banana Beer ITDG Technical Brief Traditional Foods: Processing for Profit by P. Fellows, IT Publications, 1997
ITDG Bangladesh has produced a booklet on green banana chips production in Bengali