Abstract #514

# 514
Effects of ration formulation on the performance of dairy animals in Nepal.
B. Shrestha*1, A. Adesogan2, 1Heifer International Nepal, Hattiban, Lalitpur, Nepal, 2Florida University, Gainesville, FL.

Dairy is the most important livestock sub sector contributing almost 2-thirds of the livestock gross domestic product in Nepal. The prevalent dairy animal feeding approach is dependent primarily on locally available feed resources and it aims to fill the guts of animals without proper consideration of their nutrient requirements for various functions. The consequences are suboptimal performance and common occurrence of reproductive disorders in high yielding dairy cows and buffalo, with overall poor lifetime production. A study was carried out to examine effects of least cost ration formulation on the performance of dairy cattle and buffaloes. Twenty-six Jersey and Holstein cattle in early lactation of parity 1–4 and 30 Murrah buffaloes (parity 1–6) were randomly allocated to 2 groups after matching them for breed, parity, and stage of lactation in separate experiments. One group of cows or buffalos in each experiment was fed a balanced ration formulated using a feeding support tool (phone app developed based on nutrient requirements of dairy animals from ICAR and the dairy NRC) for 8 weeks and the control group was fed a ration that typified farmers’ practice. The average initial milk yield of cattle in both groups was 9.30 kg/d. This increased to 9.96 kg/d during the experimental period in the treatment group, while the average yield for the control group remained unchanged (9.08 kg/d). The fitted ANCOVA model was significant with an estimated difference in yield of 0.994 kg/d. Similarly in buffaloes, the initial milk yields in treatment and control groups were 5.53 and 5.56 kg/d and these changed to 5.31 and 4.92 kg/d, respectively at the end of the experiment. The estimated increase in milk yield of buffaloes in the treatment versus control group was 0.415 kg/d. A survey of 100 farmers who participated in on-farm testing revealed that 94% of those who used the feeding support tool reported a 0.5 to 2 kg/d increase in milk yield on average with similar or reduced feeding costs. Therefore, using the feeding support tool is an effective strategy for enhancing milk production in Nepal.

Key Words: feeding support tool, dairy animal feeding system, least cost ration