The De-bushing Advisory Service (DAS) has advised farmers to make the production of bush based animal feed an integral part of their farming operations.
This it said will help their livestock during drought and aid the country’s economy as well as rangelands.
On farm level, according to Junior Technical Advisor (Animal Science and Nutrition) at the De-bushing Advisory Service Petrus Nghipangelua, animals will become well adapted to bush feed if it is a regular part of their diet.
“The farmer will gain experience in feeding practices and in ration formulation. With a robust production set-up, the farm will be more resilient in times of drought. At the same time, the farmer is continuously tackling bush encroachment on his farm and restoring rangelands,” Nghipangelua said.
Bush-based animal feed has been produced in Namibia as early as 1970 but on a very small scale.
It however, according to Nghipangelua gained momentum recently due to high demand for livestock feed in the face of drought.
“Farmers are showing that it not only works as drought feed, but also as supplement feed and even for feedlot operations,” he said.
He said with the production of bush-based animal feed, proper procedures must be followed, otherwise the feed will pose severe risks to animals. Farmers should harvest now while bushes are green and highly nutritious.
Nghipangelua says no branches thicker than 2 centimeters of diameter should be used for bush feed production.
“Leaves, pods and twigs are ideal. The material can be chipped but that is not essential. It definitely needs to be milled into fibre. The fibre needs to be dried properly before it can be stored. Supplements can be added later before feeding,” he said.
He said a small bush feed production set-up will cost a farmer around N$ 80,000. This includes a small chipper and a hammer mill. A slightly bigger set-up could include a medium size pelletiser and would bring costs up to around N$ 120,000.
“A large set-up would require an investment of N$ 250,000 to N$ 500,000 and would include equipment for chipping, milling, mixing, pelleting and cooling of the finished bush feed product. A set-up like this would allow production on a commercial scale,” he said. He said a growing number of Namibian farmers are starting to produce animal feed on a commercial level as a way to diversify their income while tackling bush encroachment.
BosPro, according to him, is one of the prominent Namibian brands that produces high quality animal feeds for various livestock using encroacher bush species as a nutritious base.
He said a support structure around producing bush-based animal feed is quickly developing. In 2019, over a thousand commercial, communal, emerging commercial and resettled farmers and livestock producers were trained by the De-bushing Advisory Service.
He said DAS will continue training more farmers this year in order to upscale knowledge of bush to feed within the farming community. In addition, he said equipment suppliers have bought into the hype. Local and international companies are busy designing and improving technology to process bush into feed.
He said an expo as part of the 2020 Standard Bank Biomass Fair, which will take place at Otjiwa Safari Lodge later this year, will showcase tested technology and innovations.
For Namibian farmers, however, he said the time to act is now. “Let’s produce bush-based animal feed while the leaves are green, plentiful and nutritious.”
2020-06-09 09:44:38 | 24 days ago