Ludhiana, March 28: With the farmers in Punjab suffering heavy losses due to potato glut, the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) is now recommending farmers to introduce potatoes in the feed of their cattle.
A study undertaken by the animal nutrition department of GADVASU titled ‘Potato (Solanum tuberosum) wastes as livestock feed’ has found that potatoes if fed to cattle in ‘right quantity’, can improve milk yield and that too without having any adverse affect on ‘body weight’ (BW) of the animals.
However, the varsity has clarified that farmers should see that ‘there is no overfeeding’ and potatoes should not be served without chopping as it can lead to choking. Also, raw green potatoes should not be served at all.
Recently, seeing the potato glut in the market, Punjab government has proposed its export to other countries. Also, government schools were ordered to enhance potato purchase for mid-day meals and gurudwaras for langars.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Manju Wadhwa, head of animal nutrition department, GADVASU said, “We have studied potential of potatoes as livestock feed. It can be a good source of cattle feed that improves the milk yield without any adverse effect on milk composition or body weight (BW) of the animals.”
As per GADVASU study, potatoes should be thoroughly washed and introduced gradually into animal’s diet with increasing amounts over period of 2-3 weeks. At start, feeding should be 1.5–2.5 kg/day with gradual increase to 4.5–6.5 kg/day for calves, 10–11 kg/day for yearlings (above one year) and 16–18 kg/day for 500 kg cows.
“We should not feed potatoes higher than 30% of the DM (dry matter) intake or 2.5-4.0% of body weight (BW). In any case it should not exceed 10% of their BW in any case. Frozen potatoes should not be fed because animals cannot chew them and are likely to choke while attempting to swallow them whole. They should be mashed or chaffed with roughage,” added Wadhwa.
The study has also found that ‘ nutritional value of 4.5–5 kg potatoes are equivalent to 1 kg barley or corn grains.’ “But this does not mean a farmer should feed cattle with 4-5 kg potato at once. It has to be fed very carefully beginning with limited quantity,” she said.
Feeding higher levels may cause milk fat depression, indigestion and bloating among animals, cautions Wadhwa. “In no case, fungal infested, sprouted, sun burnt (green) potatoes should be fed. Frozen potatoes should be brought to room temperature and then fed,” she added.