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Case Study 9. Hay and crop residues in Pakistan[5] - 1. Hay and fodder in mixed systems and for sale

Livestock production forms an integral part of almost all farming systems. Small-scale farm livestock production, however, revolves around subsistence, although surplus milk may be sold. The vast majority of dairy stock are in the intensively-cultivated irrigated tracts where there is no natural pasture; stock are kept around the homestead and stall-fed on crop residues, fodder and some concentrates. Fodder is important in all districts for on-farm livestock, and often as a cash-crop for sale, fresh or dried, to supply urban dairies; it accounts for 14.6% of the total crop area.

The bulk of agriculture in Pakistan is on the great irrigated plains of the Punjab, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Sindh, with ruminants fed almost entirely from the produce of arable land, there being no grazing except along a few river valleys and some areas of semi-desert. In the plains, the growing season covers nine to ten months of the year and green feed is available year-round to supplement crop residues. In the semi deserts of Balochistan and the lands behind the Himalaya, there is seasonal movement of stock to grazing lands, usually to higher altitudes in summer, and fodder is produced where irrigation is available.

Commercial herds are few in rural areas, but are very important in the peri-urban zones (see Table 25) around big cities (Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad, Gujranwala, Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Quetta). The feed supplied to these units is trucked in, and some is produced over 300 km away (e.g., from Hyderabad and beyond to Karachi; from Kasur and Renala to Islamabad). Cities in the irrigated tracts find supplies relatively close, but Karachi and Islamabad in particular have to haul feed over long distances. Buffalo predominate in the town herds of Punjab, Sindh and NWFP. In Quetta, Balochistan, only half of the urban herd is buffalo, due to several factors, including the scarcity of water. Afghan refugees brought excellent pure and cross-bred Friesian cattle to Quetta and greatly increased the local dairymen's interest in cows. Milk price is based on butterfat content, so with buffalo at over 6.5% and Sahiwal cattle averaging 5.5%, the buffalo is popular.

Table 25. Feed sources for dairy stock(1) around some Pakistan cities


Dairy herd (head)

Source districts



125 000

Kasur, Sheikhupura are major green feed suppliers. Dry roughages from Gujranwala Division.

< 100 km


150 000

Green feed from Hyderabad, Thatha and adjoining areas. Dry roughages from Central Punjab, Lower Sindh.

> 300 km maximum green


105 000

Surrounding area


Islamabad -Rawalpindi


Dry roughages from Gujranwala and Sargodha divisions. Hay from adjoining villages. Green feed from Hafizabad and very scattered, as far as Kasur;

> 350 km maximum (Kasur)



Adjoining areas and lower Sindh


60 000

Surrounding areas of Charsada and Mardan. Wheat straw from Punjab. Lots of sugar-beet pulp available.


100 000

Surrounding area


50 000

Surrounding area and Sindh.

Note: (1) Does not include draught stock (donkeys, horses, camels and oxen)

Over the years, transport costs have risen substantially. This has lead to conservation. Data is not available, but huge quantities of oats are now regularly converted to excellent hay and transported over long distances. The rapid rise in the popularity of oats over the past fifteen years has been due to the introduction of high-yielding varieties which give several cuts, such as cvs Scott and PD2-LV65. In the 1950s and 1960s, oats were grown for fodder, but mainly to make hay for horses, which at that time was the main transport animal in rural as well as urban areas; the tonga was used for intra-city transport and in the rural areas for access to town markets. In the 1970s and 1980s, motor vehicles replaced most of the horses, but in the late 1980s the dairy industry began to expand, and more and more milk marketing outlets became available. A large number of milk processing units were installed. The expanding urban population provided a lucrative milk market, dairy stock were better managed and fed. Fodder production became an important activity, especially near big towns. The oat crop developed to replace the poor quality wheat and rice straw which had formed the basis of the ration. Multi-cut varieties of oat were developed by the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, and the Farming Systems Research Programme in Punjab did much of the initial popularization and seed bulking of oats. The old single-cut varieties have now been replaced by multi-cut forms. These oats are good producers in the cold weather when other green feed is scarce, and are replacing the fodder brassicas, which were formerly used in the winter gap.

Commercial hay making from lucerne and berseem has also started in pockets. In Gilgit and the Quetta Valley, lucerne hay is sold where surplus to farm requirements. In the Quetta Valley, where small dairy units are coming up fast, 40-50 t of lucerne hay is marketed at price of about PRs 2.5/kg (US$ 1 = PRs 40 at the time of writing) from around the city in September to October. Substantial quantities of dried stalks (maize, sorghum, millets) are sold to cities and within the production zones, particularly in the rainfed areas (parts of Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Chakwal, Attock, Mianwali, etc.).

Figure 57. Temperatures and rainfall in Quetta, Pakistan

Fodder yields are low in comparison to their potential, with 20 t/ha a recent estimate. Although greatly improved technology and varieties are available, these have been slow to reach the small-scale farms that account for most fodder production, and seed production has lagged behind plant breeding and introduction. Recent medium-scale, on-farm work has indicated that yields can be increased two or threefold using available improved varieties and appropriate agronomic techniques. In an area where land and irrigation water are the main limiting factors to increasing fodder, intensification is the only way to meet the country's needs for more livestock products and, therefore, of fodder.

Dried fodder

Extensive drying is carried out in the rainfed districts (Sialkot, Wazirabad, Gujrat, Jhleum, Rawalpindi, Attock, Mianwali, D.I. Khan). The system is also prevalent in the Northern Areas and parts of Sindh. The crops used for drying are sorghum, millets, maize and oats. In the rainfed areas of Punjab, parts of NWFP, Sindh and lower Balochistan, it is customary to convert stalks of sorghum, maize and millet into kadbi, this material is used after chopping and mixing with some green fodder (see Table 26) Sometimes part of the seed heads or cobs are left on the stalks to improve its feeding value. In parts of Balochistan, a thin-stalked maize with low cob yield is grown as fodder and the cobs are left on. The kadbi is made by drying the cut material thoroughly, then stacking it upright. The stacks are sometimes plastered with mud. Part of the kadbi is sold to urban dairies.

Rice straw is a major, albeit poor, feed. It is usually stacked on field edges or where stock are kept; it is often fed ad libitum; it is not chaffed.

Wheat straw is a major and very popular feed, always in the chaffed form. In recent years, baling units have been installed in central Punjab. The bales are transported to all major cities. Traditionally the chopped straw is stored in mud-covered piles; this storage system can also be used for urea treatment of straw, which although well proven in the country, has been slow to take off with the smaller farmers.

Of lucerne and berseem hay, lucerne over the years has become important winter/summer fodder and is increasing as green feed, especially for equines, in Western Punjab. In the Northern Areas, particularly Gilgit, Skardu, Swat, Hunza and upland Balochistan, haymaking from lucerne is traditional. Berseem hay is prepared in irrigated areas of Punjab. This hay is fed in summer and winter fodder scarcity periods. The freshly cut material is sun dried. There are wide variations in the process. In the central irrigated tracts of Punjab, farmers, after harvesting the fodder, transport it to the farmstead, where it is thinly placed on the roof top or a protected area to avoid trampling and stray livestock. The favoured time is March/April for berseem, when the crop is at its peak of growth, flowering starts and the stem becomes more lignified. Drying takes 3-5 days, but there is a tendency to dry for longer time. Leaf shattering is extremely common.

Lucerne hay is made in large quantities in the Northern Areas and upland Balochistan. The crop is harvested any time between July and October. A village survey conducted in 20 hutments in Saifullah and Loralai (Balochistan) revealed that farmers with irrigated land invariably prepared lucerne and barley hay. The amount prepared was from 1 to 1.5 t per household, and done in small batches. The partially dried hay was made into bundles weighing 3 to 5 kg and, after complete drying, stacked indoors. The quality was excellent, with very little leaf loss. The recovery rate (yield of hay) was also higher (25-30%). In the Northern Areas, the hay is made into small bundles and mostly stacked on roof tops and covered with straw, polythene sheet or any other waterproof material. The hay is used between December and February when most of the natural vegetation is dry or unproductive, as a supplement to straw and other crop residues for cattle. For small ruminants, hay is fed in the evening, ½ to 1 kg per sheep or goat, but the quantity is highly dependent on grazing patterns.

In a study of small farms (1.2-2 ha holdings) in Gujranwala division, where an FAO project promoted haymaking of surplus fodder, the average herd composition was 3 buffaloes, 1 cow, 2 small ruminants, and 2 donkeys or bullocks. The feeding of dairy animals (those lactating) was given priority due to the commercial value of milk. Both in winter and summer, green fodder was fed (winter berseem or mixture of berseem, sarson or oats) at 30-40 kg per buffalo and 5- 10 kg wheat straw. During fodder shortages, the quantity of straw was almost doubled, with 3-4 kg concentrate (cotton seed cake, wheat bran, rice polishings). In summer, the major requirements were met through green feed. (maize, sorghum, sadabahar, millets, mott or Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum)). The quantity offered per animal was 40-50 kg without any straw. Berseem hay, where available, was fed during the early summer fodder shortage. On 10 farms, with 2-3 lactating buffaloes each, the animals were offered 15-20 kg berseem hay, 5 kg wheat straw mixed with concentrate twice a day (e.g., 2-3 kg cotton-seed cake). Almost total maintenance and production requirements were met (milk yield averaged 8-10 litres). The study was carried out over a period of 45 days (1 May to 15 June, 1995).

Table 26. Approximate analyses of some dry feeds in Punjab (as percentage of DM)






Berseem hay






Lucerne hay






Millet stover






Notes: DM = dry matter. CP = crude protein. EE = ether extract. CF = crude fibre. NFE = nitrogen-free extract

[5] Based on material from Dr Sadaqat, S. Hanjira and Dost Mohammed.

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