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Measures to increase fodder availability

This topic covers Advisory on measures to be taken for increasing availability of fodder to mitigate the effect of natural calamities.

Availability of adequate quantity of feed and fodder for livestock is essential for improving the livestock productivity. There exists a substantial gap between the demand and availability of fodder in the country, particularly during the lean periods and at the time of natural calamities including droughts/floods.

Following measures may be taken for ensuring maximum availability of fodder for sustaining livestock production.

Optimum utilization of land resources

The number of livestock is growing rapidly, but the grazing lands are gradually diminishing due to pressure on land for agricultural and non-agricultural uses.  The area under fodder cultivation is limited to about 4% of the cropping area, and it has remained static for the last four decades. Owing to the importance of food crops and other cash crops, it is very unlikely that the area under fodder cultivation would increase substantially.

Therefore, the need of the time is to adopt the practice of land use with multiple crops in a sustainable manner. Adopting Silvi-pastoral and Horti-pastoral models suitable to the area can help in substantially enhancing the availability of forage for the livestock. About 29 million ha area in the country falls under the category of open forests with less than 0.4 canopy density which can be developed with fodder trees. This huge land resource can be utilized for growing fodder, not only as an under-storey on the partially shaded ground without affecting standing trees. Similar development is also possible in the area under horticulture orchards. While the forest department can undertake silvi-pastoral plantations through the Joint Forest Management Committees, the horti-pastoral activities can be initiated by incentivizing the farmers who are owners of the orchards.

Emphasis should also be laid on the non-cropped areas in the agricultural land which are not cultivated viz. bunds, pond embankments, slopes of nala course, basins of plantation and horticultural crops, hedges with fodder crops etc.

Improving production by using high yielding fodder varieties

Use of quality fodder seeds including dual purpose grains like bajra, maize and jowar, etc., is essential for improving productivity. Some of the cultivated fodder species for different regions are indicated below (list is illustrative):

Type of LandRainfedIrrigated
Arid Tracts Jowar, Bajra, Moth, Guar, Lobia, Stylo spp Clitoria Ternatea Lucerne, Berseem, Oats, Maize, Jowar, Bajra, Barley, Fodder cowpea
Semi-dry Bajra, Jowar, Lobia, Moth, Guar, Velvet Bean, Field Bean, Guinea grass, Setaria sphacelata, Rhodes grass Jowar, Maize, Lobia, Teosinte, Lucerne, Berseem, Sarson, Turnips, Hybrid Napier, Oats, Sudan grass, Guinea grass
Semi-wet Dinanath Grass, Jowar, Lobia, Rice Bean, Velvet Bean, Teosinte, Sunnhemp Berseem, Oats, Sudan grass, Hybrid Napier, Guar, Jowar, Maize, Para grass, Rhodes, Setaria,Guinea
Wet regions Jowar, Dinanath, Rice Bean, Coix Berseem, Oats, Hybrid Napier, Guinea, Lucerne, Berseem, Sarson,  Turnips, Hybrid Napier, Oats, Setaria, Para grass, Jowar
Lower hills Jowar, Lobia, Bajra, Velvet Bean, Field Bean, Guar,Perennial Sorghum,Fodder Maize Maize, Jowar, Oats, Berseem, Lucerne, Hybrid Napier, Sudan, Setaria, Rhodes


List of Forage Grasses, Legumes, Shrubs And Trees For Grassland / Grazing Land Improvement on Agro-Ecological Basis

Agro-eco RegionsGrassesLegumesShrubs/Treees
Western Himalaya, cold arid with shallow skeletal soils Agrostis spp., Poa alpina, Trisetum spicatum Medicago sativa / subsp sativa, M. sativa, subsp fslcuta Hippophae rhamonides
Western plains and Kaccha Penisula, hot arid with desert and saline soils Cenchrus ciliaris, C. setigerus (Sandy plains), Lasiurus scindicus (Sandy interdunal plains), Panicum turgidum (Sand dunes) Chloris gayana, Sporobolus marginatus (salt affected lands) Cassia rotundifolia Acacia nilotica, A. tortilis, Albizia lebbeck, Ailanthes excelsa, Dichrostachys cinerea, Prosopis cineraria, Ziziphus nummularia, p. juliflora, Salvadora oleoides, S. persica (Saline soil)
Deccan Plateau, hot arid with red and black soils Andropogon gayanus, Chrysopogon fulvus (Red soil), Dichanthium annulatum, Bothriochloa intermedia (Black soil) Clitoria ternatea, Stylosanthes hamata, S. scabra Acacia nilotica, Albizia amara, A.lebbeck, Desmanthus virgatus, Leucaena leucocephala, Tamarindus indica
Northern plains and central highlands inclulding Aravallis, hot semi-arid with Alluvium Bothriochloa intermedia, Cenchrus ciliaris, Chrysopogon fulvus, Dichanthium annulatum, Sehima neroosum Macroptilium atropurpureum, Stylosanthes hamata, S. scabra Acacia nilotica, A. holosericea, Albizia amara, A.lebbeck, A. procera, Azairachta indica, Dichrostachys cinerea, Hardwickia binata, Leucaena leucocephala, Sesbania grandiflora, S. sesban
Central (Malwa) highlands, Gujarat plains & Kathiawar Peninsula, hot semiarid with red loamy soils Bothrichloa intermedia, Chloris gayana, Cynodon dactylon, Dichanthium annulatum, Pancium maximum Arachis hagenbackii, Clitoria ternatea, Stylosanthes hamata, S.scabra Albizia lebbeck, Artocarpus lackoocha, Dendrocalamus strictus, Gliricidia sepium, Faidherbia albida, Holoptelia integrifolia, Pithecellobium dulce
Deccan Plateau, hot semi-arid with shallow and medium black soils Bothriochloa intermedia, Brachiaria decumbens, Cenchrus setigerus, Dichanthium annulatum, Pennisetum pedicellatum, Panicum maximum Arachis hagenbackii, Stylosanthes hamata, S. scabra Acacia nilotica, Albizia procera, Anogeissus pendula, Bauhinia variegata, B. purpurea, Leucaena leucocephala, Moringa oleifera, Pterocarpus marsupium, Sesbania sesban, Terminalia arjuna
Deccan (Telangana) Plateau and Eastern Ghats, hot semi-arid with red and black Andropogon gayanus, Bothriochloa intermedia, Chrysopogn fulvus, Pennisetum pedicellatum, Dichanthium annulatum Atylosia scrabaeoides, Macrotyloma axillare, Macroptilium atropurpureum, Stylosanthes scabra Albizia lebbeck, Gliricida sepium, Faidherbia albida, Holopteaia integrofolia, Leucaena leucocephala
Eastern Ghats, TN uplands and Deccan (Karnataka) Plateau, hot semi-arid with red and black soils Brachiaria decumbens, B. ruziziensis, Cynodon dactylon, Dichanthium annulatu, Bothriochloa intermedia Arachis hagenbackii, A. glabrata, Stylosanthes guinensis, S. hamata Ailanthes malabarica, albizia falcataria, Erythrina variegata, E. poppygyana
Northern plains, hot sub-humid (dry with Alluvium derived soils Bothriochloa intermedia, Cynodon dactylon, Chloris gayana, Dicanthium annulatu, Pennisetum pedicellatum Clitoria ternatea, Macroptilium atropurpureum, Stylosanthes hamata Albizia stipulata, Desmathus virgatus, Azadirachata indica, Ficus racemosa, Leucaena leucocephala, Robinia, pseudoacacia
Central Highlands (Malwa, Bundelkhand & Satpura) noth subhumid with black and red soils Andropogon gayanus, Pennisetum pedicellatum (red soil), Bothriochloa intermedia, Chrysopogon fulvus, Sehima nervosum, Dichanthium annulatum (black soil) Atylosia scarabaeoides, Macroptilium atropurpureum, Stylosanthes hamata, S. scabra Albizia amara, A. lebbeck, Anogeissus latifolia, A. pendula, Dichrostachys cinera, Hardwickia binata, Leucaena leucocephala
Eastern Palteau (Chhatisgarh), hot sub-humid with red Bothriochloa intermedia, Cynodon dactylon dichanthium annulatum, Panicum maximum, Pennisetum pedicllatum, Setaria sphacelata Arachis hagenbackii, Stylosanthes hamata Bauhinia variegata, Dalbergia sissoo, Leucaena leucocephala, Moringa oleifera
Eastern (Chhotangapur) Plateau and Eastern Ghats hot subhumid with red and laterite soils Andropogon gayanus, Bothriochloa intermeida, chrysopogon fulvus, Pennisetum, pedicellatum, Urochloa mosambicensis Atylosia scarabaeoides, Macroptilium atropurpureum, Macrotyloma axillare, Stylosanthes hamata Artocarpus heterophyllus, A. lakoocha, Leucaena leucocephala, Moringa oleifera
Eastern plain, hot sub-humid (moist) with Alluvium derived soils Brachiaria brizantha, B. decumbens, B. mutica, Cynodon dactylon, Paspalum notatum Arachis glabrata, A. hagenbackii Bauhinia variegata, Dalbergia latifolia, D. sissoo, Desmanthus virgatus, Pterocarpus marsupium
Western Him alayas, warm sub-humid with brown forest and Podzolic soils Dactylis glomerata, Festuca rubra, Lolium perenne, Poa spp. Trifolium pratense, T. repens, Lotus comiculatus Quercus incana, Robinia pseudoacacia, Grewia optiva, Celtis australis, Fagus sylvatica, Celtis australis, Morus alba
Bengal and Assam plains, hot subhumid (moist) to humid with Alluvium derived soils Brachiaria decumbens, B. mutica, Paspalum notatum Desmodium uncinatum, D. heterophyllum Artocarpus heterophyllus, A. lakoocha, Ficus hookeri, F. nermoralis, Parkia roxburghii, Morus alba
Eastern Himalayas, warm per-humid with brown and red soils Coix lacryma-jobi, Pennisetum clandestinum, Tripsacum dactyloides Desmodium spp., Pueraria phaseoloides Celtis australis, Ficus hookeri, F. nemoralis, F. semicordata
North-eastern Hills (Purvanchal), warm per-humid with red and laterite soils Brachiaria decumbens, Pennisetum clandestinum, Tripsacum dactyloides Arachis spp. Desmodium uncinatum Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Parkia roxbrughii, Morus alba., Robinia pseudoacacia
Eastern Coastal plain, hot subhumid to semi-arid with coastal Alluvium derived soils Chloris gayana, Cynodon dactylon, Dichanthium annulatum, Pennisetum pedicellaum, Stenotaphrum dimidiatum, Urochloa mosambicensis Stylosanthes guinensis Ailanthes malabarica, Erythrina variegata, E. poeppigiana, Ficus retusa
Western Ghats and Coastal Plain, hot humid per humid laterite and Alluvium derived soils Cynodon dactylon, Dichanthium annulatum, Panicum maximum, Pennisetum clandestinum, P. polystachyon, Setaria sphacelata Clitoria ternatea, Desmodium heterophyllum, Pueraria thunbergiana, Stylosanthes hamata, S. guiensis Ailanthes malabarica, Erythrina variegata
Islands of Andman Nicobar and Lakshdweep hot humid to per humid island with red loamy and sandy soils Andropogon gayanus, Cynodon dactylon, Cenchrus ciliaris, Pennisetum pedicellatum, p. polystachyon, Brachiaria ruziziensis, Tripsacum laxum Centrosema pubescens, Clitoria ternatea, Macroptilium atropurpureum, Stylosanthes guianensis, S. scabra Bauhinia purpurea, Erythrina variegata, Leucaena leucocephala, Trema tomentosa, Pithecellobium dulce, Gliricidia sepium,Caliandra spp.

Enhanced fodder seed production

Inadequate availability of quality fodder seeds is a major constraint. Fodder seed production is not remunerative in many of the fodder crops. State Governments may take initiatives to encourage farmers for taking up the production of high yielding varieties by providing sufficient incentives to farmers for production of fodder seeds of high yielding varieties by way of assured procurement with a remunerative price and assistance of inputs. State Governments can avail the benefit of the component of 'Fodder Seed Production, Procurement and Distribution' under the National Livestock Mission (NLM). Provisions under NFSM can also be utilized for this purpose.

Following high yielding fodder varieties may be considered for seed production programme for improving fodder yield per hectare in respect of existing area under fodder:

S.NoName of the fodder cropName of varieties
1 Maize African tall, J - 1006, Vijay composite
2 Sorghum SSG 59-3, PC-23, PC-9, PC-6, HC-136, MP Chari, CO-FS-29,SSV 74,SSV 84
3 Hybrid Napier IGFRI-6, IGFRI-10, CO-4, Yashwant, NB21,PNB-84,DHN6,CoBN5
4 Bajra Giant bajra, L-74, GFB-1, Raj. Bajra chari-2, HC 20, AVKB-19
5 Cowpea BL-1, BL-2, UPC-622, UPC-5286, UPC-4200, EC-4216,NP-3,MFC 08-14, MFC09-1
6 Guar BG-1, BG-2, BG-3, Bundel-2, HG 365, HG563, RG- 1003
7 Berseem Wardan, Bundel berseem-2, BL-1, BL-10
8 Oats JHO-851, JHO-822, UPO-212, Kent, OS-6,
9 Chinese cabbage -

Forage crops and their varieties suitable for waterlogged soil

Soil conditionSuitable crop
Standing water Almon grass (Echinochloa polyptachya), Para grass, coix sps., Iseilema laxum, Chloris gayana, signal grass, karnal grass, congosignal grass
Shallow water table Teosinte (Zea mexicana), shevary (Sesbania sesban)
Temporary water logged soil drained in rabi season Sasuna (Medicago denticulata), teera (Lathyrus sativus), chatarimatri (Vicia sativa), oats and berseem
Riverine flood waterlogging Sorghum (PC-6), Teosinte (TL-6)

Emphasis be also laid on availability of seeds of short duration and dual purpose crops, which can be used in emergency of drought/floods, for getting fodder in short period. States may ensure availability of such dual purpose quality seeds in consultation with respective Agricultural Universities.

Adopting suitable crop combinations

Productivity potential of most lands can be best utilised through not only crop rotation, but also adopting suitable crop combinations. An indicative list of possible production under different combinations of fodder crops is in Below table which shows higher productivity for different crops.

Stratified fodder-production potential of the best fodder crop combinations

Best 2-3 rotations at various CentresGreen fodder yield (q / ha)
Hybrid Napier + Cowpea - Berseem + Sarson 2,863
Maize + Cowpea - M.P. Chari - Berseem + Sarson 1,972
M.P. Chari - Turnips - Oats 1,256
Hybrid Napier + Cowpea - Hybrid Napier + Cowpea - Hybrid Napier +Berseem 1,334
Maize + Cowpea - Bajra +Cowpea + Berseem 1,267
Madikattujonna + Cowpea - Jonna (Ratoon) + Cowpea - Berseem 1,098
Hybrid Napier alone 2,877
Hybrid Napier + Guar - Lucerne 2,529
Maize + Cowpea - Maize - Cowpea - Oats - Maize + Cowpea 1,685
Maize + Cowpea - P. Pedicellatum - Oats 1,308
Maize + Cowpea - Rice Bean - Berseem + Sarson 1,115
Maize + Cowpea + Jowar + Cowpea - Oats 884
Maize + Cowpea - Oats - Bajra + Cowpea 1,206
Jowar + Cowpea - Berseem + Sarson - Maize + Cowpea 960
Bajra + Cowpea - Berseem + Sarson - Maize + Cowpea 959
Napier + Berseem intercropped and cut at the optimum time 2,141
Napier + Berseem intercropped and cut at the same time 1,998
Napier +Lucerne intercropped and cut at the optimum time 1,960
Hybrid Napier alone 1,442
Maize + Cowpea - Maize - Jowar - Oats 664
Guinea alone 607
Napier - Bajra Hybrid intercropped with Berseem 2,117
Napier - Bajra Hybrid + Lucerne 1,760
Berseem + Japan Rape - Jowar + Cowpea - Jowar + Cowpea 1,705
Sorghum + Cowpea - Maize + Cowpea - Maize + Cowpea 1,107
Maize + Cowpea - Maize + Cowpea - Maize + Cowpea 1,060
Guinea grass round the year 935
Maize + Cowpea - Lucerne + Oats + Sarson 844
Maize + Cowpea - Turnip - Oats + Pea - Cowpea 833
M.P. Chari + Cowpea - Oats + Pea - Cowpea 782
Hybrid Napier intercropped with Cowpea - Berseem and Cowpea 1,761
M.P. Chari - Cowpea - Berseem + Sarson - Jowar + Cowpea 1,686

Based on All-India Coordinated Project for Research on Forage Crops of ICAR

Cultivation of Azolla may be taken up on large scale as it is highly nutritious, rich in protein and ready within a week’s period and available every day thereafter.

Improvement of grasslands/wastelands and other community lands

The grassland development can be taken up in nonforest waste land, range land, grass land, non-arable land and forest land under NLM with 60% Central grant. Besides, other marginal lands like roadside land, canal side land, land along the railway tracks, etc., may also be utilized for forage cultivation. The forest department can also undertake silvi-pastoral plantations in degraded forest areas through the Joint Forest Management Committees for use of the communities as explained earlier. Wasteland like waterlogged areas, saline soils, sodic soils, etc., can also be utilized for cultivation of fodder varieties suitable for such areas.

Conservation and utilization of crop residues/bye-products

  • Diversion of crop residues for industrial use, etc., may be restricted / banned.
  • The States may prevent burning of agricultural residues in the fields, wastage or diversion of dry fodder
  • The State Governments should make it a priority programme to install chaff cutters and construction of manger in each and every household keeping cattle, in order to economize the use of available fodder. This measure can result in saving of upto about ~30% fodder.
  • Though, in general, there is scarcity of green fodder in the country, but still in most places surplus green fodder is available during the monsoon. A major part of this surplus green fodder goes waste or is improperly stored, reducing its nutritional value. The farmers may be trained in the techniques like making silage, and be provided assistance under the Central or State schemes to facilitate silage making at household level.
  • The availability of dry fodder can be enhanced by installation of low capacity Fodder block making units at each Primary Milk Cooperative / Panchayat level. Tractor mounted fodder block making units are now available, which can be operated in the fields to store surplus fodder / dry fodder. Agricultural residues can be densified with or without mixing it with easily available material like urea, molasses, butter milk, etc., for easy storage and use during the lean period.
  • State Governments may promote use of crop residues and agricultural wastes/bye products as animal feed by enriching it through available technologies like treatment of straw with urea and molasses along with silage. Green topping of sugarcane and other crops should be saved for use as fodder.

Development of Fodder Banks

The Milk Cooperatives and Panchayat may be assisted for keeping surplus fodder for use during crisis periods. Gaushalas may be encouraged and trained to popularize high-yielding fodder and forage crops and supported for creating fodder banks through silage or fodder blocks and enrichment of crop residues, etc. States with surplus dry fodder may indicate the quantity and type of fodder available with them, so that necessary arrangements for supply to scarcity area can be made.

Schemes that support fodder production

  1. National Livestock Mission
  2. National Food Security Mission
  3. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana

Source: Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying

Related resources

  1. Contact details of Regional Fodder Stations in the country
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