Focusing on ‘main course’ provides good nutrition beneficial for livelihood sustainability

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These improved forages and legumes provide good sources of nutrients for buffaloes. They are also safer compared to traditional tethering system, cheaper, and convenient for farmers, as these address feed scarcity during dry season.

In several occasions that serve a variety of food like appetizer, main dish, and desserts, everyone would choose the best according to their own cravings, preferred tastes, and moods. However, the ‘main course’, which is usually the most complex and substantial dish on every menu, catches the attention of many.

What has been referred to as “dishes” for human correspond to feedstuff for livestock, which not only benefit the nutrition of the animals but also allow farmers to earn better income.

Main course and benefits

Spearheaded by Philippine Carabao Center at Central Luzon State University (PCC@CLSU) center director Dr. Daniel Aquino, the technology of producing homegrown grasses and legumes allows dairy farmers to provide the recommended nutrition for growing and lactating dairy buffaloes.

Such technology is a product of a research project titled “Development of Feeding Protocols to Support the Nutritional Requirements of Dairy Buffaloes”, which is  one of the components emphasized in a collaborative R4D program “Enhancing Milk Production of Water Buffaloes through S&T Interventions” between PCC and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD). This program underscored animal nutrition as an important aspect.

“These improved forages and legumes provide good sources of nutrients for buffaloes, which are also safer compared to traditional tethering system, cheaper, and convenient for farmers, as these address feed scarcity during dry season. Another recommended technology focused on the nutrition of buffaloes is the total-mixed ration (TMR) composed of water hyacinth and banana stalks,” Charity Castillo, PCC’s Science Research Specialist II, explained.

“These homegrown grasses and TMR technology provide multiple benefits to both dairy farmers and buffaloes,” she added.

Achieving sustainable livelihood

Better nutrition, higher quality of milk and meat, and a more efficient calf production are the benefits arising from proper feeding management. Thus, focusing on the recommended nutrition for water buffaloes is beneficial for human food production and sustainability of buffalo farmers’ livelihood.

To further expound on sustainability, a limited forage area will not be a problem with homegrown grasses. In fact, a hectare of improved grasses is adequate to sustain 10-15 heads of buffaloes year round.

Homegrown grasses and legumes represent the ‘main course’ for the dairy buffaloes while the dairy products they produce represent the desserts in a menu, which signify sustainable livelihood among dairy farmers when combined together.

“After all, every PCC’s milk product is derived from grasses that pass through a buffalo (not a machine), which we only need to take care of,” Dr. Aquino averred.

The said technology was showcased during the “Farmers’ Field Day and Technology Expo” as part of PCC’s weeklong anniversary celebration last March 25, held at its Pavilion hall. It aimed at promoting dairy buffalo production, management, and corresponding carabao-based enterprises.

Around 400 PCC clients attended the event comprising of assisted farmers, partners, and stakeholders engaged in the dairy and livestock industries. The majority of the participants are farmer co-ops from the PCC’s regional centers.

During the technology expo, it is always attractive to taste delicacies and milk products being offered for free, yet most dairy farmers still prefer the technology pertaining to the nutrition of animals - the foundation of good animal health. Thus, adequate attention must be given to the feeding management as it contributes greatly to attain sufficient nutrients necessary for optimum milk production and quality meat.

Driven by its mandate, PCC stewards farmer-clients to have better income and to become ‘carapreneurs’ through the utilization of carabao’s meat and milk. Understanding the concept behind the animal’s productivity will pave the way to livelihood sustainability.

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