Contributions towards a Medium Term Plan

Output from the FINAL WORKSHOP
"Developing the Medium Term Programme"

Wednesday 9th December 2009 Ulaanbaatar

1. Introduction

Mongolia is a developing country in central Asia with an area of 1.5 million km2. 40 percent of the population of 2.6 million live in rural areas, leading semi-nomadic lifestyles. Mongolia’s livestock graze on natural pastures, which are frozen from October to March with low feeding value; livestock have half their required nutrient intake, and lose a third of their liveweight. During transition from socialism in the early 1990s livestock were privatized, and many workers turned to herding. Fodder production fell by two thirds during transition as state farms that had cultivated fodder crops under irrigation closed. Since then hay from natural pastures has been the main winter fodder. Between 1999-2001 eight million animals died due to harsh winters and droughts. Many people new to herding concentrated around water sources and urban centres. Since that time livestock production close to cities is being intensified with fodder and feed development, supported by Government of Mongolia (GoM). Such programmes aim to increase incomes and living standards of intensified livestock farmers, and improve food supplies in urban areas.

The FAO/GoM Technical Cooperation Project TCP/MON/3103 “Improving fodder production, conservation and processing for intensified milk and meat production in the Central Region of Mongolia” was to benefit farmers, herders and intensified livestock producers in Central Region. For the last two years the project focused on:
i) improving the capacity of farmers, herders and intensified milk and meat producers in fodder production and conservation technology and in feed rationing and supplementation through training, on-farm demonstrations, and supply of equipment
ii) developing informal groups or clusters of producers with leaders and supporting participants, training local government officials and technicians, and strengthening research institutes and departments of the Mongolian State University of Agriculture (MSUA) to carry out fodder development
iii) introducing and assessing new improved fodder crops and varieties through introduction and evaluation trials and on-farm demonstrations, with seed multiplication of selected varieties

in order to meet the following needs identified by a planning mission in September 2006:

i) integrated crop and livestock farms to grow annual and perennial fodder crops for conservation as hay and silage1 to feed their own animals - and to sell improved fodder conserved as hay to herders with camps adjacent to aimag (province) and soum (district) centres to raise their winter animal production, with transport of surplus fodder for sale to peri-urban producers.
ii) crop farmers to adopt a new cropping strategy that includes use of annual fodder crops including legumes as break crops in rainfed rotations, and 3-4 years alfalfa plus annual fodder crops as break crops in irrigated rotations. This fodder to be conserved using modern methods as hay, for sale to peri-urban milk and meat producers.
iii) rations for milk and meat production based on the new conserved fodder crops to be developed for feeding to improved milk cows and beef cattle.
iv) improved compound animal feeds to be formulated and produced by feed mills for feeding by commercial milk and meat producers as supplements to conserved fodder.

At the end of the project, farmers, herders and intensified livestock producers plus local government officials, technicians and agricultural extension managers who had taken part in project activities in four aimags participated in Local Workshops that were held in each aimag in November / December 2009. Here participants reported and discussed their own achievements in fodder production, conservation and feeding under the project, and put forward their proposals for future actions over the next three years. These were summarised and presented during the seminar at the Final Workshop held in mid December 2009 at Ulaanbaatar. Participants, who included representatives from the soums and aimags plus ministry officials and staff from relevant institutes, were briefed on achievements of the project from both the project team and participating farmers, herders and livestock producers in lead and support capacities. All participants then assisted development of the Medium Term Plan presented in this document. This reports on some of the findings and conclusions of project TCP/MON/3103, and lists some of the promising technologies introduced. It then outlines how producers in the soums and aimags propose to develop their fodder production, improve conservation of this fodder, and feed their livestock with improved fodders and supplementary feeds - and the support that needs to be provided by local government at soum and aimag level, and at national level by government through the various departments, agencies and programmes of MoFALI and the research institutes and departments of MSUA. This is done in the form of a series of key points and a 2-dimensional matrix.

2. Findings and Conclusions from Project TCP/MON/3103: Fodder

(i) Mongolian culture and language only have two terms: “pasture”, which is grazed directly by animals; and “fodder”, which refers to all feeds that are fed by hand to animals. To improve feeding of animals the term “fodder” has to be qualified in such a way that logical sub-divisions can be recognised by Mongolians. Main terms used in this document are:

  • “long fodders” such as cut green grass, hay and silage, and straws
  • “concentrate feeds” such as cereal brans and other by-products, milled cereal grains, oilseed cakes and meals, and compound feeds produced by feed mills
  • “feed supplements” or “supplementary feeds” such as mineral mixtures or urea/molasses protein blocks which are concentrate feeds fed as supplements to long fodder to provide specific nutrients, but do not necessarily result in balanced rations.

(ii) The project was implemented from 2007-2009, with simultaneous applied research, demonstration and training activities on three main themes:

  • introduction, evaluation and demonstration of new and improved fodder crops
  • introduction and demonstration of improved methods of hay and silage making
  • introduction, demonstration and extension of improved feed rationing and animal feeds

(iii) As MoFALI had no farms, all fodder development activities were with “clusters” of farmers, herders and livestock producers. Each comprised a "lead" farmer, herder or intensified livestock producer and up to about 10 "support" participants. Using clusters was much quicker and more flexible than forming registered groups or cooperatives. However, the scale of interventions - for example equipment for hay or silage making - was more oriented to large scale lead producers, and more actions are required to assist fodder development by small – medium scale “support” producers.

(iv) The project team involved local government staff in all project activities, including training workshops and on-farm demonstrations. Training was led by project staff and included farmer to farmer knowledge transfer, and training materials were distributed to all participants. Knowledge on theory and practice of fodder development was lacking at the start of the project, and continued training is still needed at all levels.

(v) Annual fodder crops demonstrated with lead farmers in ten soums in four aimags included spring cereals - oats, barley or rye; and summer fodder crops – maize, Sudan grass and sunflowers. Support farmers and herders also grew the same annual fodders, either as separate crops or as crop mixtures. Some excellent crops were grown, but good production depended on clean land (weed control), high soil fertility (crop rotation and manuring), and sowing crops at the correct time.

(vi) Lead farmers were also provided with seeds of perennial fodder crops – “Burgaltai” alfalfa and common brome grass – to grow with irrigation. However few farmers actually had irrigation, and although those farmers with irrigation produced high yields, fodder crops established on rainfed land had slow establishment and production was uneconomic.

(vii) Major constraints experienced by farmers and herders in growing fodder crops included:

  • difficulty to obtain land and permission to cultivate fodder crops - needing changes to the legal environment
  • no irrigation – no water, permission to irrigate land, or equipment
  • lack of small and medium scale fodder technology
  • lack of working equipment to cultivate land and sow fodder crops of various seed sizes
  • a general lack of inputs and finance
  • for herders, lack of experience in crop production
  • damage to growing crops by animals of other herders - needing support for fencing
  • lack of provision of short and long term finance on favourable terms
  • lack of availability of and storage facilities for hay and concentrate feeds
  • lack of market information and organized channels.

(viii) Collections of breeders’ lines of wheat, barley, triticale, sorghum, pearl millet and maize from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) Beijing and of oats from NZ Crop/Plant Food Research Ltd were variously assessed in plant introduction trials with and without irrigation at PSARTI Orhon and RTPC Bornuur field station. The trials were excellent, and justify continuation of plant introduction trials, introduction of lines of additional fodder crops, and movement of the best selected lines into evaluation trials.

(ix) Released varieties of various fodder crops from NZ including cereal fodder crops – wheat, barley, rye and oats; various annual non-cereal fodder crops – legumes, leafy and root brassicas, and annual ryegrasses; and various biennial and perennial grasses and legumes, were grown in various evaluation trials with and without irrigation at RTPC. The cereals were also grown at PSARTI with local and other varieties. Outstanding new fodder crops were: annuals – selected oats, annual ryegrasses, lupins, and leafy and root brassicas; perennials - ryegrasses, alfalfa, and red and Persian clovers. Excellent results in 2009 warrant continuation of evaluation trials on-station with additional crops and varieties, and extension of selected varieties to on-farm evaluation in 2010 and beyond.

(x) Varieties of maize, common millet, sunflowers and rye were multiplied on PSARTI field stations, and under contract with PSARTI by commercial farmers. However, the seed multiplication and certification system in Mongolia is not well defined, even for wheat, while seed standards for each fodder crop have to be set. Farmers and herders generally lack the skills and equipment to produce seeds of high quality.

(xi) Although international consultants guided staff and students of PSARTI and RTPC on experimental methods for plant introduction and evaluation, further training is required that includes biostatistical analysis. The project provided equipment for drying fodder samples and seed harvest of research plots, laboratory glassware, and a mixer for making feed blocks. Ruminant nutrition software was provided for ration and feed formulation; and analyses of pastures, long fodders and concentrate feeds were compiled as a database. Despite recent acquisitions and study tours, research institutes require further equipment and staff training for fodder development

(xii) It is difficult to conserve high quality fodder due to rainfall in mid-summer, so the project introduced "quick" hay making and efficient ensiling techniques in 2009, and held demonstrations in the four aimags. Farmers found the drum mower-conditioners and rotary tedder-rakes did reduce hay making times with natural pasture, but the equipment was too aggressive for cultivated fodder crops with breakage of stems and leaves. However most lead farmers still have mowers from the socialist times in working order, and the need of these farmers was for new balers to pick up the hay. Herders in general lack any equipment, or have small tractors with mowers or motorized mowers from China supplied through MoFALI programmes. They also need small balers suitable for the small tractors.

(xiii) The medium-large scale double-chop flail harvesters were effective in harvesting a range of fodder crops from oats to tall maize and sunflower, and gave a short chop length when operated at the correct pto2 speed (540 rpm3 ). These were greatly appreciated by farmers and herders. However larger scale farmers need larger machines to harvest large areas of fodder crops, while medium scale farmers and herders need small cheap and simple harvesters and carts. Electric powered stationary choppers are more suitable for small scale herders and intensified livestock producers including the ladies, for use with hand harvesting of the fodder crops. Such choppers were provided to groups in two soums.

(xiv) In the past large silos were developed as concrete lined pits, and medium – large scale farmers are now digging pits in the ground. These operate well if the sides are lined with plastic sheet, and further sheeting is used to cover the chopped fodder each night and after the pit is full. The main problem occurs with heavy rain after filling, since pits dug into flat ground fill with water leading to spoilage of the silage at the bottom. If possible pits should be dug into sloping ground, so that water can drain out of the pit rather than into it. Depending on the quantity of silage to be made, small scale farmers and herders can use plastic bags or barrels as silos; these can also be used by vegetable growers to conserve waste vegetables, fruit and green matter.

(xv) Constraints to the conservation of high quality fodder include:

  • lack of machinery for silage making especially for small & medium scale producers
  • the means to obtain forage harvesters and fodder choppers
  • permission to reserve and fence pasture land for hay (and silage)
  • availability of balers
  • spoilage of long hay heaped on top of animal shelters due to rain and snow.

(xvi) The major constraint to winter nutrition is just a lack of conserved long fodder, so it was not possible to demonstrate the benefit of feeding long fodder to appetite. However good responses in terms of milk yield, cow liveweights and body condition were observed to feeding improved hay and silage from fodder crops. More livestock producers will be able to benefit as the amount of fodder crops actually conserved increases.

(xvii) Despite several training sessions on animal feeds and feed rationing carried out throughout the project area, farmers, herders and livestock producers still lack sufficient knowledge on the nutritive value of different feeds and how to formulate and feed balanced rations to their cows and cattle for milk and meat production. About 250 samples of long fodders and concentrate feeds and feed ingredients were taken from producers and analysed by the nutrition laboratory of the Research Institute of Animal Husbandry (RIAH); these and historic values have been compiled as a database of fodders and feeds for Central region – but still need to be incorporated into ration formulation software.

(xviii) Mineral supplements as multi-mineral mixtures and blocks and trace element boluses4 reduced mortality in cows and calves, reduced weight loss in cows during winter or after calving, and increased milk production and increased weight gains of calves due to more milk being available – as widely reported by farmers, herders and intensified livestock producers in winter 2008/09. Livestock producers are keen to adopt mineral supplementation especially with hard winter conditions, provided supplies can be made available at a reasonable price or they can be assisted to produce their own supplements using locally available materials.

(xix) Urea/molasses blocks for supplementing degradable protein and a HiPro-36 pellet from mixed oilseed cakes for supplementing undegradable or "Bypass" protein were manufactured by the project with assistance from RIAH and a commercial feed mill respectively. The urea/molasses blocks were evaluated and demonstrated with large, medium and small scale livestock producers with or without HiPro-36 pellets in six soums from December 2009. This research needs to be repeated and successful components extended to livestock producers.

(xx) One local feed mill makes balanced compound feeds for ruminants, but they have not been widely adopted by livestock producers: they are expensive as some ingredients have to be imported, transport costs are high, and storage facilities for concentrate feeds are lacking in the soums and aimags.

(xxi) Livestock producers have settled their livestock and adopted more intensive practices, in line with government programmes, but the higher costs are not being covered by increased economic returns. Intensified milk producers continue to calve their cows in spring which results in low milk prices over summer, instead of calving in autumn which would result in high milk prices during winter. Similarly intensified meat producers should concentrate on buying live animals in early winter when the price is low, and sell them in good condition in early summer when prices are high. Producers have little idea of milk and meat production as commercial input/output systems, and need help to change their traditional systems.

(xxii) New methods of laboratory analysis that meet international standards for long fodder and concentrate feeds were provided to various laboratories of MSUA, together with supporting glassware and reagents. These methods will assist the laboratories to assess fodder crops for nutritive value within plant selection programmes, and to accurately and efficiently estimate the nutritive value of individual livestock producers’ long fodders and concentrate feeds. Used with the ruminant nutrition software provided it will be possible to formulate rations on an individual producer basis. Until then, the database of fodders and feeds of the Central region compiled by RIAH will provide a sound basis for preparing generalized rations. Further training of scientific staff is required for carrying out these analyses and using the ruminant nutrition software.

(xxiii) As a result of the project there is increased awareness of the importance of fodder and feeding with farmers, herders and intensified producers; with local government officials and technicians; and with staff of MoFALI and research institutes and departments of MSUA.

Promising Technologies
A number of technologies were introduced by the project. These are listed with an indication of which:
(i) are ready for extension by local soum technicians and agricultural extension managers to farmers, herders and intensified livestock producers, possibly through the National Fodder Programme of MoFALI, with on-farm demonstrations and farmer to farmer training
(ii) require further on-farm trials and demonstrations by staff of the research institutes and departments of MSUA
(iii) require further research on-station with the assistance of farmers for evaluation, and support of laboratories of the research institutes and departments.

1. Fodder production of annual fodder crops

a) Spring fodder crops – cereals, such as oats barley and rye: (i) (ii) and (iii)
b) Spring fodder crops – non-cereals, such as forage peas, beans, lupins, and leafy and root brassicas: (ii) and (iii)
c) Summer fodder crops – cereals, such as maize, Sudan grass and millets: (i) (ii) and (iii)
d) Summer fodder crops – non-cereals, such as sunflowers: (i) (ii) and (iii)

2. Fodder production of perennial fodder crops – grasses and legumes: (i) (ii) and (iii)

a) With irrigation
b) Rainfed

3. Seed multiplication

a) Spring fodder crops – cereals: (i)
b) Spring fodder crops – legumes and brassicas: (ii) and (iii)
c) Summer fodder crops – cereals: (i) and (ii)
d) Summer fodder crops – non-cereals: (i) and (ii)

4. Fodder conservation – “Quick” haymaking: (i)

a) Drum mower-conditioners
b) Tedder-rakes

5. Fodder conservation – silage making: (i)

a) Double-chop flail harvesters
b) Stationary choppers
c) Design of long and narrow pit silos
d) Filling pit silos with chopped green fodder in wedges, covered at night with temporary plastic sheet
e) Lining and sealing of pit silos with plastic sheet.

6. Feed rationing

a) Formulation of rations from feeding tables: (i) and (ii)
b) Use of ration formulation software: (ii) and (iii)
c) Laboratory feed evaluation: (iii)

7. Supplementary feeds
a) Mineral supplementation: (i)
b) Urea/molasses blocks (UMBs): (ii) and (iii)
c) Bypass protein supplements: (ii) and (iii)

4. Some Key Points to be Considered in the Next 5 Year Plan

Strategies and Options

While the project successfully introduced and demonstrated many new technologies in fodder production, conservation and feeding to farmers, herders and livestock producers, it was difficult for the small and medium scale support producers to adopt them. Major changes to the legal and enabling environment are required, led by government at national level and implemented through local government at aimag and soum levels. These include rights to land for fodder production, irrigation and protection; establishment of “Fodder Production Workshops” to assist small and medium scale producers in each soum; a comprehensive training programme; effective provision of long and short term finance on favourable terms; an efficient market information service; strengthened fodder reserves; and adoption of technologies by the National Fodder Programme. While the project was able to grow fodder crops with integrated crop and livestock farmers and herders, only crop farmers who already had connections with livestock producers were interested to work with the project. Cooperation with crop farmers is possible, but fodder crops need to be grown on contract with guaranteed markets for the produce.

Follow-on programmes and projects should broaden and deepen the activities of the current project in Central Region; grow crops to provide ingredients for concentrated animal feeds within Central Region; and initiate activities for pasture regeneration and fodder conservation and feeding in high potential pastoral aimags. There is major scope to intensify current cropping systems, possibly with introduction of conservation agriculture to minimise soil losses and maintain soil fertility and crop yields. Annual crops can be grown under contract for conservation as hay and silage, and as grain and seed crops. It is generally considered that perennial crops such as alfalfa need irrigation to give economic yields. Under the original project few farmers had irrigation so this component was not emphasised. Where irrigation programmes are developed, annual fodder crops can be included in short rotations for high yields of fodder and for seed production of fodder crops, while perennial fodder crops can be included in long rotations to build soil structure and provide high yields of fodder economically. Several projects and programmes already exist in pastoral regions, but they tend to rely on herders’ groups to propose activities. There is a need to work with herders to introduce and demonstrate new technologies on a pilot scale which may then be adopted under well funded programmes.

Plant Introduction and Evaluation, and Seed Multiplication

An excellent programme was commenced under the project with the introduction of valuable collections of breeders’ lines and released varieties. This impetus must be maintained, even though funding under the original project has now ceased. The initial trials need to be repeated a second year with additional introduced and local materials, and collections of additional fodder crops obtained – for example for lupins, leafy and root brassicas, and some perennials. If possible drying all samples should be completed in ovens to ensure reliable estimates of drymatter yields. However at this stage it is not necessary to carry out chemical analysis on all samples from introduction trials – this is an expensive process unless a near infra-red spectroscope (NIRS) is available with appropriate calibrations. The best lines should be moved from introduction trials into on-station evaluation trials, and also be included in local breeding programmes. Preliminary examination of the seed yield components for the CIMMYT wheat lines indicates independence between the main variables. Data needs to be assessed for relations between the components for fodder yield for each fodder crop, but it may be possible to improve fodder yields further by local breeding. While high fodder yields are important, it is also necessary to have moderate to high seed yields for annual fodder crops otherwise seed becomes too expensive for commercial fodder production.

Many of the released varieties grown in evaluation trials on-station were outstanding. These need to be evaluated with farmers throughout the project area, preferably over 2-3 years. Crop x site interactions are important, and fodder crops and varieties should be selected which consistently perform well across most sites. It may also be possible to select certain crops and varieties for specific environments - for example summer crops such as maize may be restricted to lower altitudes. More seed of promising varieties should be purchased for wider release, and licenses obtained to move them into seed multiplication programmes. Close cooperation between the research institutes and the MoFALI National Fodder Programme will be essential.

GoM has to make a major effort to establish a formal seed certification system which encompasses the whole chain from plant breeding and selection through to sale of certified or quality seeds to fodder producers. A number of improved varieties of wheat are waiting to be released by PSARTI. Given the importance of wheat, a framework should first be established for wheat which can then be utilised for each fodder crop. This should lead into seed multiplication systems for each crop with a body to set standards for each variety, a plant inspection system and registered seed producers. A central office for seed multiplication of fodder crops and a central seed bank / reserve should also be established. If necessary GoM should request international assistance specifically to produce seed to international standards. Often the best place to grow seed of a fodder crop is quite different to where the crop is to be grown for fodder. Specialist seed producers are then required. Seed of some crops such as cereals may be grown where the fodder is required, but such seed is best grown by experienced crop farmers. Special seed cleaning equipment is required for fodder crops, and this may include mobile seed cleaners based at soum level.

Agronomy for Fodder Crops

Some farmers and groups of producers managed to grow excellent annual fodder crops, with good land preparation, rotation so fodder crops followed potatoes with high soil fertility, correct seed drills to match the size of fodder crop seeds, and use of herbicide sprays to control weeds. Many crops, however, were planted into unclean land or on land that had cereals the previous 1-2 years and were exhausted. Crops were sown late after farmers had finished planting wheat and potatoes, with seed drills that were inappropriate for the size of seed, without any manure or fertilizer, and without use of herbicides so that grass weeds (especially “wild millet”) and broad leaved weeds (especially “fat hen” Chenopodium album) dominated the crops and reduced fodder yields and quality. Poor crops such as these are uneconomic, and will cost farmers more money than if they had purchased additional supplies of hay. Ecologically it is better to leave land as pasture land rather than grow poor crops for fodder.

A series of agronomy trials should be established on-station with the research institutes including the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) to develop recommendations for the agronomy of major fodder crops; and these have to be extended as on-farm demonstration trials in the soums. Both research and demonstrations should cater for farmers and herders at different scales of production; for example research and development in weed control should include both mechanical methods (by hand and by machine) as well as different methods for application of herbicides – repeated for different types of fodder crop. Given low seed yields for fodder crops and therefore high seed costs to grow fodder, attention is also needed on optimum row widths and seed rates for each crop – which also has to be related to weed control. Although advisory notes have been prepared for each crop, each topic needs to be revised in the light of local research findings and practical on-farm experience. Suitable equipment and inputs then have to be made available to farmers and herders. A completely different set of agronomic recommendations may be required with the introduction of conservation agriculture with direct drilling of seeds, possibly leading to lower costs for land preparation, fertilization and weed control.

“Fodder Production Workshops”

Many small – medium scale producers lack tractors and/or machinery for cultivation and harvest of fodder crops. Fodder Production Workshops should be established in the soums to provide contract services to these producers. While support is needed from local government and financial services provided, such workshops should be set up as commercial enterprises by skilled farmers with good experience of crop production. Strict terms of reference and monitoring and evaluation will be required to ensure that the workshops do service the needs of small – medium scale producers, rather than use the equipment for their own large scale operations. Such workshops should have equipment for land cultivation and crop establishment, hay and silage making, milling and mixing of concentrate feeds, and seed cleaning. Equipped with zero tillage seed drills they can lead the way in introducing conservation agriculture. They should act as centres for fodder development, supply inputs for fodder production and conservation, and also act as marketing centres for hay and concentrate feeds. Besides providing machinery services, they should also assist farmers and herders’ groups purchase their own machinery appropriate to the required scale of production.

Fodder Conservation

The primary objective in the production and conservation of high quality fodder is to supply a “green fodder supplement” to cows on winter rations based on hay from natural pastures (see “Feeding” below). Once this need is met high quality hay and silage can take over as the major winter feed. It is difficult to make hay from cultivated fodder crops, and tractor drivers have to learn how best to use mower-conditioners and rotary tedders such as those supplied under the original project. The greatest shortage appears to be in balers for small as well as large scale hay making. As hay making is brought forward to harvest fodder at younger and more nutritious stages of growth, both hay making and storage have to be improved to avoid losses. This is difficult, and explains the interest shown by all producers in storing fodder green as silage. While large scale milk producers may have their own forage harvesters or can import used/second hand machines for themselves, small to medium scale producers need assistance to obtain small forage harvesters or stationary choppers. The alternative is for small to medium scale producers to contract their local “Fodder Production Workshop” to both grow and harvest small areas of fodder crop as silage to provide the “green fodder supplement” for their cows, and to deliver the chopped green fodder to their winter base. The workshop can then fill, compact and seal the silo for the producer, or leave the chopped fodder for the producer to fill small plastic bags and/or barrels for feeding on a small scale. If producers do not have their own lands for production of green fodder, they can contract local crop farmers to grow fodder crops, and the local workshop to harvest the fodder on their behalf. The National Fodder Reserve (NFR) should establish operations at soum level, and soum local government should work with NFR to identify possible buildings to be renovated and used as storage for both hay and also for concentrate feeds. Such building should also be made available to private individuals, groups and companies to store hay and concentrate feeds.

Feeding and Feeds

It is important to bring intensified livestock producers to view commercial milk or meat production as an input / output system, in which the amount of milk or meat produced by an animal is directly dependent on the amount of nutrients that the animal consumes – up to the limit set by the animal’s genetic potential. Most livestock producers base their winter feeding on restricted hay from natural pastures. Improved feeding of intensified milk and meat animals should follow a logical series of actions firstly to improve the efficiency of microbial fermentation in the rumen (first stomach), and secondly the nutrition of the animal itself. Step1 is to ensure sufficient supplies of hay to feed cows to appetite, even though this is easier to say than to achieve for all producers, as much of the benefit to subsequent steps is to increase the amount of long fodder the animals can eat. Step 2 is to provide feed supplements to meet nutritional requirements of the rumen micro-organisms, in the order: (i) major and minor minerals as mineral mixtures, blocks or as trace element boluses; (ii) rumen degradable protein which is degraded to ammonia for use by rumen micro-organisms to multiply and build microbial protein, such as urea/molasses blocks; (iii) green fodder supplement, such as fresh fodder or high quality hay or silage, to act as a substrate for rapid multiplication of rumen microbes. The rumen is now actively functioning. Step 3 is to supplement the animal with a source of protein that is less degraded in the rumen so that part of the protein, “bypass protein”, is available directly to the animal in the hind gut, such as oilseed cakes subjected to high temperatures as included in HiPro-36 protein pellets. Step 4 is to feed balanced concentrates according to target milk yield or liveweight gain. Finally Step 5 is to progressively replace the basal ration of low quality meadow hay with high quality hay or silage; this allows higher levels of animal production to be achieved and/or reduction in the amount of concentrate feeds to be fed. All components of this feeding system need to be developed in future programmes and projects, both in developing facilities to make and store supplementary and compound feeds, and through extension with intensified livestock producers. Short term finance is also required to allow producers to purchase long fodders and concentrate feeds in advance when prices are low, and to store them into winter when supplies are short and prices are high.

Seasonal milk production

Herders do not control mating of cows within their herds. Given normal weight loss over winter cows only regain their full liveweight and body condition in mid-summer at which time they come into oestrous and breed. In consequence cows calve in spring and produce milk in summer from grazed natural pastures. The resulting flood of milk leads to low milk prices, but as costs of production are low with minimal feeding over winter transhumant herders still make a profit. Intensified milk producers, however, stall feed their animals over winter with high costs of production. Since they still calve in spring, they cannot compete with transhumant herders, and are starting to go out of milk production. They must change their mating regime so that most of their milk is produced when prices are high in winter, and increase the amount of hay and silage plus concentrate feeds fed to match the higher genetic potential of their cows. They should control mating within their herds, and progressively delay breeding until just before housing in October / November. This will lead to calving in July / August instead of May/April with high milk production from August - February to correspond with peak milk prices in December – February. Heifers should be well fed during their final winter and mated for the first time in February / March to calve in November / December. Intensified producers will need short term finance to purchase feeds in advance, suitable hay barns and stores for concentrate feeds.

Institutional Development

The research institutes and departments of MSUA in general responded well to small scale support from the project in terms of finance, equipment and training. Their continued input is essential to fodder development in Mongolia and should include: (i) further support to both PSARTI and RTPC for plant introduction and evaluation trials plus agronomy trials both on-station and on-farm, to include funds for staff and students and for transport, and further field and laboratory equipment; (ii) addition of a rhizobial inoculant production unit to the PSARTI microbiology laboratory; (iii) further strengthening of feed analysis laboratories including provision of a Near Infra-red Spectroscope (NIRS) plus calibrations for routine analysis of hay, silage and concentrate feeds from individual intensified livestock producers; (iv) strengthening of appropriate laboratories to support seed certification, testing and multiplication; and (v) upgrade and redevelopment of facilities for perennial fodder crop development at RIAH in both Central and NW Regions. Full staff training in Mongolia and abroad should be provided according to a needs assessment for all institutes and departments.

A simple participatory approach was adopted in the project for working with farmers, herders and intensified livestock producers, and this has been successfully employed to plan and implement further small projects within MoFALI and with other ministries. Senior staff in technical departments, the implementing agency and the extension service of MoFALI (plus the research institutes and departments of MSUA) should receive comprehensive training in “training of trainers” in participatory methods, and should go on to train line staff in the aimags and soums. Such participatory methods, including farmer run demonstrations and farmer to farmer discussions should be fundamental to extension of fodder developments in future programmes and projects. While research staff should lead development of fodder technologies, extension has to be handed over to MoFALI staff, for example through the National Fodder Programme, with full involvement of aimag and soum line staff and extension managers.

A detailed two dimensional log-frame for implementation of the medium term plan, was developed.

1 Silage can be called “pickle for cows” – and is produced by letting bacteria ferment the sugars in the green fodder to lactic acid under anaerobic (air free) conditions
2 pto = power take-off (the drive from the engine to powered equipment)
3rpm = revolutions per minute
4Trace element boluses are large “bullets” made of soluble glass plus minerals and vitamins that are placed in the rumen where they remain and slowly dissolve to release the nutrients over a period of six months.