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Individual crops, their adaptation and cultivation are described in Chapters III to VI. Fodder is a crop with a wide range of specific substitution, and adapted species and cultivars are available for all agricultural zones, so hay crops should be chosen according to:

- local agro-ecological conditions;
- the farming system;
- the season when haymaking is to be carried out; and
- the use to which the hay will be put.

The level of technology influences crop choice and haymaking methods. Crops which require conditioning to accelerate drying, for example, are less suited to manual and simple implements, while fully mechanized systems can handle them.

Crops, cultivars and climate

When choosing crops and cultivars to suit local climatic and soil conditions, the cultivar or ecotype is as important as the species. It is necessary to find adapted cultivars for each situation, and they must be screened locally before widespread field use if they are not already proven. Local practice, seedsmen and information from research units should be consulted at the outset of a fodder development programme. There is usually a surprising amount of information available. Cultivar names are mentioned in Chapters IV to VI, usually referring to specific situations, but these are for illustration only. On-the-spot screening is necessary before crops can be recommended firmly. A range of cultivars, and sometimes crops, with different maturities may be desirable to extend harvesting over a wider season and spread risks.

Some species have very wide natural ranges: cocksfoot, for example, is found from North Africa northwards to the limit of cultivation in western Europe; Mediterranean ecotypes have their main growth in winter and are dormant during the long, very hot summers; northern ones are summer-growing and winter-dormant. Perennial ryegrass behaves in the same way. Cultivars of lucerne have been developed, during the crop's long domestication, adapted to situations which vary from oases on the Saharan fringe, through temperate zones, to very cold, high-latitude and high-altitude sites. In all cases, therefore, it is not only the species of fodder which must be chosen, but the cultivar or ecotype to fit the agro-ecological conditions where it is to be grown, and the use for which it is intended.

When introductions are to be made, information on adaptation in areas of similar climate and farming system should be studied. Similar does not, of course, mean same, and such studies are only a guide to choice of cultivars for a testing programme, not for bulk seed buying. Seed catalogues are useful, but should be used as broad guides when assessing the possible performance in a country other than that of the catalogue's origin. Some ecotypes are excellent for grazing but much less suitable where hay-making is the prime consideration; the overall use and management of a pasture must be considered when choosing the correct cultivars.

The case study on the Altai reports the total failure of a range of "cold-tolerant" varieties of lucerne chosen after a serious study of available literature: the probable reason was that the Altai has little or no snow in winter but very low temperatures and often wind; most areas where lucerne is bred for cold tolerance are snow-covered in winter. Many failures of annual medicagos selected from Mediterranean material in Australia for Australian conditions, and then re-introduced to North Africa and western Asia, indicate the need for local screening.

The concept of analogous climates is, nevertheless, useful when searching for new crops or cultivars of an established crop. Analogous climates are those in which all elements are similar. It is reasonable to assume that crops and cultivars are likely to succeed in areas of climate similar to that in which they are already successfully grown, although this does not take into account such factors as disease challenge. Some "factor substitution" can be taken into account when comparing climates: altitude can compensate for latitude in control of temperature (away from the modifying influence of the sea or other large bodies of water, there is a fall of a little over 1°C per 200 m increase in altitude); temperature or cloud cover can affect the rainfall needs of a crop, and so on. These substitutions may not always work in a straightforward way, as high latitude crops at high altitudes in the tropics may be affected by photoperiodism or lack of chilling, but these are not serious considerations in fodders.

Sometimes, usually in the context of development projects, fodders of "high feeding value" (under conditions elsewhere) have been tried and re-tried under totally unsuitable conditions; emphasis on what are essentially grazing crops in areas where the farm size is only suited to cut-and-carry is frequent. The crops "introduced" usually reflect the early experiences and training of the technicians involved. This has been demonstrated very often, such as with lucerne under warm humid conditions on acid soils, or ryegrass and white clover where soil fertility is inadequate and summers too hot.

Availability of seed may, unfortunately, be a determinant factor in crop choice in some developing countries. Frequently, the research has been carried out and adapted cultivars identified or developed locally, but multiplication to commercial scale has not followed. In any extension work to develop hay from sown fodder, it is necessary not only to recommend the correct material but also to ensure that the seed is available commercially. While much crop improvement is, no doubt, required, the first and most important step is usually to make use of the cultivars and ecotypes that have been proven locally and to assure a sustainable supply of clean, healthy seed.

Factors affecting crop choice

The existing farming system

This is of paramount relevance. Small-scale farms that rely on manual labour or very simple mechanization may have to use crops that differ from those of fully mechanized units. Overall labour and input availability within the system will affect many decisions. Unless grown specifically for sale, hay should be developed or introduced to complement existing feed - alongside grazing, crop residues and by-products - in the context of the type of livestock production being undertaken. Large tracts of irrigated farmland in southern Asia and Egypt, mostly managed in small-scale farm units, have little or no grazing, yet they support a very large population of milch and draught animals; there, fodder production has an important role in the cropping pattern, since green feed is essential to complement the roughages which form the bulk of the animal's diet. Personal preferences play a part. Thus, shaftal is preferred to the higher-yielding berseem in southeastern Afghanistan, as its shoots are a winter vegetable, while hairy berseem is not palatable to humans.

Figure 25. Stall feeding of goats in an intensively irrigated system with no pasture (Punjab, Pakistan)

Availability of crop residues

In many developing countries, especially those with well-developed arable production and limited grazing, the bulk of the feed for ruminants is crop residues. These, apart from the haulms of a few legumes, are coarse roughages and, even for maintenance of adult stock, will require supplementation. Green forage and good hay will supply the vitamins and minerals which the straws and stovers lack; for hard work, fattening and dairy production, concentrates will be required in addition. The aim should be to determine how best hay and green fodder can be used as a complement to a feeding regime based on the farm's overall production. Lucerne and clover are popular for hay in semi-arid Asia is because it is largely used to supplement straw in winter. The quality of the crop made into hay must be appreciably higher than that of freely-available crop residues. This seems self-evident, but hay from coarse, over-mature tropical grass is little better than straw or stover. A project in southern Africa found that a "fodder" bulrush millet (Pennisetum miliaceum) was by far the highest-yielding forage crop - but it did not become popular for dry-season use. On analysis, the "hay" was no better a feed than the plentiful local stover.

Straws and stovers have often been neglected as feed sources in mechanized farming, especially since the availability of inorganic fertilizers reduced the importance of farmyard manure in production systems. Interest has increased greatly in recent years, helped by modern methods of treatment to improve intake and digestibility, and improved handling and storage. The first step in improving any residue-based feeding system is, of course, to optimize the quality of the straws and stovers concerned by careful harvest, drying and storage. Treatment is possible to improve their palatability and digestibility; this is discussed further in Chapter IX. Particular care should be taken over high-quality residues like legume haulms, groundnut tops and sunflower heads if the weather at harvest allows their proper drying.

Farm size and level of technology

Two main farm types can be distinguished according to holding size: (i) farms large enough to use grazed pasture; and (ii) small farms where fencing and grazing is not a realistic option. The three levels of technology were discussed earlier. Mechanization varies, of course, from simple, animal-drawn machines, to the most sophisticated modern equipment, but these are differences of degree. Small farms often rely more heavily on crop residues and cut-and-carry green feed than do mechanized ones, but, in suitable areas, will grow forage specifically for hay, and especially in semi-arid areas where lucerne can be grown. They will also make hay from any suitable natural vegetation if available. Where winters are severe, especially if the pasture is snow-covered, haymaking is common among small-scale farmers. In the drier parts of the Himalaya-Hindu-Kush region, and much of semi-arid Asia, legume hay is a very widespread crop, and indigenous, manual methods of harvesting are well adapted to curing the crop without undue leaf loss. The case studies from Afghanistan, China (Altai) and Turkey describe some of them. Large, fully mechanized farms have a wider choice of technologies and, in addition to haymaking, often from pasture, they can also make silage from pasture, forage crops and cereals; their size allows a combination of grazing and conservation in the management of forage fields. In the drier parts of the monsoonal lands there are indigenous technologies for drying crops such as bulrush millet, maize and sorghum as a kind of hay; this making of kadbi often merges into the conservation of crop residues.

The livestock production system

The stock rearers' needs may be to assure over-wintering (or dry-season) survival, for maintenance, or for production. If hay is for sale, the considerations differ between specialized markets for high-quality hay, and bulk markets, where there is little premium paid for quality. The type of stock has a strong influence on the crops to be conserved. Dairy cattle, riding and working horses, and fattening stock require higher quality feed than do store stock and work oxen in the off season. Camels and goats will accept dried shrubs, which other stock would not eat. Buffaloes consume rice straw more readily than do other species and, with a minimum of supplementation, will produce some milk or work off a diet which is mainly rice straw. Coarse bush hay is sought after by dairy producers in India, while stuff of similar quality would be scorned elsewhere; presumably it has two uses: as a near survival diet in poor areas and as a roughage source in concentrate-based dairy systems. Collection of poor natural grass is associated with acute shortage of dry matter and with climates where the cultivation of good hay is not easy, as shown in the case studies on India and the Sahel. Graziers in areas where the vegetation is not covered by snow in winter, or in tropical and subtropical dry seasons, may find it acceptable to have their stock lose some weight in the lean season; they may find that other strategies for lean-season feeding, such as fodder banks and standing hay, may be more remunerative. For areas with hard winters or where standing forage is not available, however, conserved feed is essential.

Soil fertility maintenance

Hay, especially legume hay, has long been recognized as a fertility-improving crop within arable rotations. The leguminous component fixes nitrogen, some of which remains for following crops; most fodders give very good ground cover and thus help suppress weeds, although the increasing use of inorganic fertilizers and herbicides in commercial farming has somewhat reduced the role of fodder and pasture crops in fertility maintenance. Legumes are still widely used in small-scale farm agriculture in parts of Asia and North Africa, and one reason is their fertility-restoring qualities. Legume-based cereal-fallow rotations are common in winter rainfall areas. Such land-hungry countries as Pakistan, India and Afghanistan cultivate appreciable quantities of fodder (much of it under irrigation): 19% of the arable land in Pakistan and 5 - 7% in India are used for fodder production. A recent study on Afghan agriculture indicates that the fodder area (mostly lucerne and clover for hay) is over 5%, despite the troubles which have disrupted local agriculture and seed supply.

The use to which the hay will be put - on-farm use or for sale

For hay for on-farm use, the aim is usually to make a high-quality product to complement the other roughages available (which are usually high in fibre and low in protein, vitamins and minerals) to give provide maximum impact on livestock performance. Frequently in production systems, there is plenty of dry matter (rice straw, sugar cane tops, stovers) available during the season of feed scarcity, but their quality is sub-maintenance and requires supplementation.

With hay for sale, the hay is produced and sold for many different reasons. This can vary from the need for quick cash, such as when the Anatolian farmers sell their meadow hay while feeding their stock on straw, to sowing hay for specific markets. Hay may be produced because conditions are particularly favourable for supplying a quality market; or arable farmers may fit a hay crop into their rotation where they do not want to be involved in livestock rearing (especially where fencing or water supply costs might be problematical), but where a ready local market for hay exists. For example many cereal farms in northern Tunisia produce oat hay for sale to transhumant herds or to the stock-rearers of the desert fringe - these farms already have the equipment for land preparation and sowing, the crop matures at a season when field drying is easy, so only simple mowing, swath-handling, and baling equipment is needed in addition. Frequently in developing countries, little premium is paid for quality hay, so the emphasis is on bulk where cattle and small ruminants are concerned.

Figure 26. Contractor buying fodder for sale in town (Quetta, Pakistan)

Hay for horses is an important trade. The situations vary from the urban draught horses and donkeys of Asian cities, to the recreational ones of industrialized countries. Horses and their owners have distinct preferences for high-quality hays from a few crops: lucerne is favoured everywhere, oats and timothy are greatly appreciated in western Europe and North America, and teff in South Africa. The case study on Pakistan describes how oat as a hay crop has expanded greatly in recent years because it is much cheaper to transport to distant urban markets and is less perishable than fresh feed.

Hay from grazed swards

Herbage may be set aside for haymaking because there is more feed on offer than the herd can graze; also, if herbage quality is such that there is a high danger of physiological disorders like hypomagnesia or bloat, then it may be made into hay, which can be safely fed. Tropical and subtropical fodders that at certain stages of growth contain dangerous quantities of cyanogenic substances can be safely fed once made into hay. Sorghums are notorious for toxicity when under stress, but several other tropical grasses, including Cynodon, can be affected.

Figure 27. Mixed use of pasture: bales of hay drying at the field side behind an electric fence while the re-growth is grazed (Dunecht, Scotland)

Grass-legume mixtures

In humid-temperate areas, hay is often made from sown mixtures of grasses and clovers, and these are usually also used for grazing. The legume should, through biological nitrogen fixation, supply protein to the livestock and - both directly and thorough the faeces and urine of the grazing livestock - provide nitrogen to the companion grass. This presupposes that the legume is well established, nodulating vigorously with the appropriate Rhizobium, and present in large quantity. Legume seedlings are very susceptible to shade when young, as adequate photosynthesis is essential both for the growth of the plant and to supply the energy that the root-nodule bacteria require for N-fixation. At the establishment stage, the linear, sun-seeking leaves of grasses quickly shade young legumes unless grazing or other defoliation so manipulates the canopy that the legume is favoured. Trifolium repens, the commonest legume of temperate grazing mixtures, is very sensitive to faults in early management (sward establishment is discussed in Chapter III). It is, however, a common, and undesirable, practice to let the first growth of a new mixture grow up for hay (sometimes with a top-dressing of nitrogen): the clover seedling are mostly stifled and the few which survive are inadequate to have any real effect on the sward. The sward, therefore, becomes less productive and fodder quality lower than had a proper legume balance been obtained. Excellent hay can be produced from mixtures where the legume has been allowed to establish fully. Fields should therefore be managed to encourage the legume and maintain its vigour.

Figure 28. Lucerne as an undercrop in an orchard (Khost, Afghanistan)

Undercropping in orchards

Leguminous fodders are frequently sown as winter cover crops in orchards and vineyards, especially in Mediterranean climates and in irrigated semi-arid areas. In some manual systems, these are mown and made into hay. Lucerne and shaftal are widely grown in orchards in parts of Pakistan (Balochistan and the Northern Areas) and Afghanistan, where haymaking from orchards is common. The forage keeps down weeds, utilizes the land and water for a longer season than the fruit, and adds some nitrogen to the system.

Lean season feeding strategies

When planning a farm's fodder production and conservation, hay is not the only solution for lean season (winter, dry season) feeding, and alternative strategies should be considered before coming to a decision. Some are considered briefly below.

Year-round green feed

In some favoured climates, either humid-temperate or under irrigation, green fodder supply can be maintained throughout most of the year but, inevitably, there are seasonal variations in availability and quality. Even in the great irrigated fodder-producing tracts of Egypt, India, and Pakistan, the green feed supply is usually insufficient in winter and at the height of summer. At these seasons, stock rations are often largely composed of straw and are inadequate for reasonable dairy production. Year-round grazing is widely practised in tropical countries and in pastoral systems. In the milder temperate countries, reasonable grazing can be provided during most of the year; such grazing systems, however, must either be supplemented seasonally or accept losses of production and condition during periods of low feed availability and quality.

Stay-green fodders

In the medium-altitude tropics, Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum), carefully managed so as to go into the dry season in a leafy state, can provide reasonable forage for several months (rationed). This was used widely in commercial dairy farming in western Kenya, usually in rotation with maize. Sugar cane is unusual among the grasses in that it stores energy in its stem and has its highest content of digestible matter during the dry season. It is a highly digestible energy feed, but one which of course requires supplementary protein and minerals. Cane juice can be used in monogastric rations and the fibrous residue fed to ruminants.

Standing hay

Reserving some areas of pasture during the period of growth for later use is an ancient and widespread practice in temperate and semi-arid grazing systems (e.g., the hema system of the Near East). Its effectiveness depends largely on the quality of the stand-over feed. In the better-watered tropical grasslands, however, the quality of the senescent, dried-off grass is so low and its palatability so poor that it does not even provide a maintenance ration; then the old vegetation may be burnt off to encourage a small but nourishing re-growth. In cold, semi-arid areas the quality of the standing (often frozen) feed is better and herders are usually unwilling to give hay to the main herd, since it encourages them to hang about looking for more and to forage less. Hay is reserved for weak stock to help them survive the winter, and for riding and milch animals.

Fodder roots

Root crops grown for winter feed were formerly very widely used in humid-temperate countries, although their importance has diminished somewhat as mechanization increased and silage-making techniques and equipment improved. Turnips (Brassica rapa var. rapa (syn. B. campestris), swedes (Brassica napus var. napobrassica) and fodder-beet (Beta vulgaris) are the main ones, although large fodder radishes are important in parts of temperate Asia. These are crops of arable land in mixed farming systems and constitute a "cleaning crop" for weed control in rotations. Their moisture content is very high (90%) so - like silage - they must be used close to where they are produced. Roots may be grazed on the field, especially by sheep, but in colder climates are usually stored in clamps or sheds for late winter and early spring, when they are most needed.

Fodder banks

These describe blocks of cultivated fodder specially set aside to provide high-quality dry-season grazing to supplement the poor natural herbage on offer. They are used in grazing systems. Herbaceous legumes are widely used for this purpose, and under tropical and subtropical conditions, Stylosanthes spp. are notable. Fodder banks must be managed throughout the year to ensure that they enter the dry season in suitable condition. If they are left ungrazed during the growing season the legume component will be suppressed and the bank will degenerate to old grass.

Fodder trees and shrubs

These can sometimes provide green feed, and - most importantly - high quality fodder during tropical dry seasons and mild Mediterranean winters. Leucaena leucocephala is well-known under sub-humid to humid tropical conditions, and Atriplex spp. have been widely tried under Mediterranean semi-arid conditions. Fodder cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) is used in tropical (NE Brazil), subtropical (southern Madagascar, South Africa) and Mediterranean (North Africa) semi-arid zones. Where shrubs and cactus are used as feed reserves for bad seasons they must still be managed and exploited regularly, otherwise they become woody, unproductive and of low feeding value. Wild and semi-domesticated tree forage is lopped and stall-fed in many areas when other feed is very scarce.

Lopping is especially prevalent in the low and middle altitudes of the Himalayan zone, where useful fodder-producing trees, some planted, are kept within the arable land, and forest forage also harvested; it is done seasonally as a reaction to acute feed scarcity rather than because of the inherent qualities of the herbage.

The fruits of wild trees are grazed or licked off the ground by livestock, and the acacias of the African savannahs are important in this respect. Some pods are harvested for use as concentrate feeds, either from protected and managed wild trees (e.g., Acacia albida in the Sahelian zone), or cultivated, like the carob (Ceratonia siliqua) in the Mediterranean region, and algaroba (Prosopis juliflora) in southern America.

Concentrates and bought-in feed

Concentrates and bought-in feed are, of course, essential in most intensive production systems, especially dairying, but are widely used in some areas by pastoralists to help assure survival of stock through the winter. Some concentrates are by-products of off-farm processing of crops, including press-cakes, brans, milling residues, marcs and pomaces; others are cereals and pulses specifically grown for use as feed.

Drying of non-vegetable material

Various animal by-products (notably blood, fish meal and bone meal) are dried and fed to livestock, but these are usually incorporated into concentrate feeds. An unusual tradition of using dried fish as a dry-season supplement persists on the southern littoral of the Arabian peninsula where very small fish - "sardines" - occur in great shoals seasonally and are netted, then sun-dried, and used to supplement poor stover, dry standing grass and hay. This is an old tradition, for it is remarked on by Marco Polo in the 13th century:

"and here is something else that may strike you as marvellous: their domestic animals - sheep, oxen camels and little ponies - are fed on fish. - shihr. The fish on which the animals feed are very small and are caught in March and April in quantities that are truly amazing. They are then dried and stored in the houses and given to the animals as food throughout the year."

and Ibn Batuta in the 14th century at Zhafar (Dhofar): "Une chose étonnante, c'est que les bêtes de somme s'y nourissent de ces sardines, et il est ainsi des brebis." The tradition continues - always with a slight danger of botulism through imperfect drying - with a modern variation in that cardboard cartons are now collected from the markets and torn up as a cellulose base to the diet; they are probably no worse feed than the over-ripe hay of mainly Themeda australis and the few millet stalks available.

Hay crops for different climates

No classification is wholly satisfactory in all aspects. The zones used below follow those adopted by the International Grassland Congress at its 1993 meeting. Strict definitions and latitude limits are not very useful in the fodder context, and small local variations in altitude (and in aspect at higher latitudes) can make appreciable differences to local climate. Tropical climates are usually taken as those where annual and monthly mean temperatures are above 20°C; subtropical has 4 to 11 months above 20°C; temperate has 4 - 12 months at 10° - 20°C and the rest cooler; and polar implies 12 months below 10°C. For annuals, it is the temperatures and length of the growing season which matters, so in continental climates with cold winters but hot summers, hot-area fodders can be successfully grown. The number of expected frost-free days is a useful, but fairly variable, parameter, and the date of the first and last killing frosts are important. Within temperature groupings, moisture availability is a sub-dividing factor. Soil fertility, acidity and drainage are, of course, determining factors; waterlogged and seasonally waterlogged soils are treated apart in each main climatic group. The season when the crop will be at its best from the nutritional point of view is critical, as it is essential that it coincide with expected weather suitable for haymaking. The climatic data in most of the examples below is from FAO (1987); stations familiar to the author have been used wherever possible.

Humid and sub-humid tropical and subtropical zones

Hay is not usually produced in the humid tropics and ruminant livestock are not as common there as elsewhere, but draught animals are important in Asia; in Africa, disease and tsetse fly restrict cattle production in this zone. The dry season is short, so beef and breeding stock will usually be able to maintain themselves from grazing, with little loss during the short dry season. For dairying or fattening, it is usually possible to have cut-and-carry fodder for most of the year to supplement grazing. Natural grazing is not usually an important feature of the vegetation (although there may be cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica)) and its quality is poor. Valuable grazing is available under tree crops in this zone; its management is discussed in detail by Reynolds (FAO, 1995a). Fodder banks and leguminous trees such as Leucaena may be used as protein supplements. For dairy production, small-scale farmers can use cut-and-carry fodder from crops that stay green, for example, Napier grass and Leucaena. Silage production is an option for larger dairies. While cropping is widespread in this zone, the drying and conservation of straws and stovers, of which rice is among the most important, is difficult for climatic reasons. Straw treatment with ammonia or urea is a possible means of conservation as well as improving digestibility. It is usually very difficult to dry the haulms of grain legumes satisfactorily.

Sub-humid tropics

Ruminants thrive in this zone. It is usually possible for beef cattle (unless being fattened for sale at that time) and breeding stock to pass the relatively short dry season at pasture, with little or no supplementation. Grazing is more widely available and of better quality than in the humid tropics. Cereals are important, and their straws and stovers are a major dry-season feed.

Low altitude zone

Here a wide range of tropical grasses and legumes, domesticated mainly over the past half century, can be grown according to the soil and moisture situation. Considerable progress has been made in developing tropical pasture legumes over the past forty years or so, but they are better suited to grazing than to haymaking. There are as yet no equivalents of clovers or lucerne (although the latter can be grown in favoured tropical and subtropical sites) for tropical haymaking. Twining legumes combined with grasses can be made into hay, but with serious leaf-loss. The hardy Stylosanthes guianensis, which has been the backbone of much tropical work, is extremely useful as a standing green feed in fodder banks, but is very difficult to make into hay and usually goes black before it dries. Tropical hays are, therefore, based on grasses and some pulses. In all but the driest areas, grasses which are quick-drying should be chosen: Rhodes grass and Guineagrass are among the best; teff can be grown over a wide range of soils and climates, but only in South Africa has it become an important hay. On sandy soils at the driest end of the rainfall range, buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris) is suitable.

Medium altitude zone

This is the area above about 1600 m. A wide range of pasture plants are available for this zone, and fodder cereals can be grown for hay or silage. This zone is too high for really vigorous growth of most of the "tropical" legumes, including Stylosanthes guianensis, and the fodder bank approach is less developed than in the low-altitude tropics. Large fodders (Napier grass, Guatemala grass) are used by small-scale farmers for cut-and carry, and can also be used as fodder banks for dry-season grazing. Haymaking presents few problems for mechanized farms, although it must be seasonal and combined with grazing. Often in the region, rain falls mainly in the afternoons, so it is advisable, therefore, to mow early and turn as soon as possible: with a clear sky it should be possible to get the herbage dry enough to put it into windrows or cocks (and sometimes to bale it) before the afternoon storms. Suitable hay crops include Chloris gayana, Cynodon spp, Panicum maximum and, in the higher parts, Bromus unioloides. Where soils are neutral to alkaline and humidity low, lucerne can be grown, but its adaptation in the tropics is very localized. In Kenya, for example, lucerne has been grown commercially, with great success, in the Lake Naivasha basin for most of the century, but outside that microclimate at similar altitudes it is not a viable crop. Sudan grass and fodder sorghums grow well and, with suitable machinery, can be made into satisfactory hay. Hay is usually for dairy stock.

Crop residues from cereals have a high potential in this zone, especially maize and sorghum stovers; conditions are too humid for the easy drying of the haulms of beans and other pulses.

Figure 29. Monthly precipitation and temperatures in Kitale, Kenya

High altitude tropics (above about 2 750 m)

Temperate crops thrive at high elevations, especially under good rainfall, and haymaking is usually not difficult. Where there is large-scale farming, ryegrasses, fescue, cocksfoot, Phalaris spp. and clovers (T. pratense, T. repens and T. subterraneum all grow well and produce seed) can be grown without difficulty if fertility is adequate (Morrison, 1966), as can oats and vetches. In areas of low atmospheric humidity and good fertility, lucerne can be used. Temperate pasture and fodder crops were widely used in the highest agricultural zones of Kenya in the 1950s and 1960s (see Figure 30 for a typical station) but have largely fallen out of use with changes in the farming pattern. Temperate forages are used at similar altitudes in the Andean region.

Figure 30. Temperatures and rainfall in the high-altitude tropics (Equator, Kenya, 2 762 m)

Hay from seasonally waterlogged tropical land

In the tropics at low and medium altitudes, Pará grass (Brachiaria mutica) grows well in wet conditions but is rather coarse and does not dry easily. Panicum coloratum, its variety P. coloratum var. makarikariensis and Setaria sphacelata are suitable for seasonally waterlogged land; these grasses are suitable for hay if the land on which they are grown is dry enough at harvest time. Echinochloa pyramidalis grows in areas of seasonal waterlogging and flooding, and is used for haymaking in southern Africa. E. scabra (E. stagnina), the Bourgou of the internal delta of the Niger, is widespread in the old-world tropics - it can withstand flooding to up to a metre in depth, and is grazed after the floods fall. Panicum antidotale withstands seasonal waterlogging in the semi-arid tropics. Nile Grass (Acroceras macrum) has been cultivated experimentally, with promising results in southern and eastern Africa.

Legumes for seasonally waterlogged land are not common. Aeschynomene spp., Sesbania sesban and Macroptilium lathyroides can be used as browse and grazing, but are not well suited to haymaking.

Hay on saline soils

Rhodes grass will grow on quite saline soil and is a very easy crop to make into hay. It can be included in mixtures where there are patches of salinity as the Rhodes grass will cover the saline spots while the mixture thrives on the better land. This has been used successfully with lucerne fields under semi-arid conditions.

Coloured Guineagrass and makarikari grass (Panicum coloratum and P. coloratum var. makarikariensis) are both tolerant of salinity and make good hay grasses. Diplachne fusca is very salt tolerant, and has been used for reclaiming saline irrigated land, but requires a lot of irrigation water; it is only a moderate hay. Among the coarse fodders, bulrush millet is quite tolerant of salinity, and sorghum only slightly less so.

Some legumes are salt tolerant: Melilotus indica is highly tolerant, as is M. alba (although the latter is only suitable for medium and high altitudes in the tropics), and can be made into hay, but with care because of the danger of toxicity in poorly prepared melilotus hay! Sesbania sesban is used for reclamation of saline land and as a forage, especially for goats, but is usually browsed directly rather than being dried. The pod-bearing algaroba (Prosopis juliflora) is very well adapted to saline soils.

Distinct wet-and-dry season zones

There are two main climatic groups within this classification: those tropical and monsoonal lands with warm-season rainfall, and the Mediterranean lands, where precipitation is during the cool season and the summers are dry. The flora and fodder crops of the zones differ greatly.

Monsoonal areas

The monsoons are, in the strict sense, winds which affect the climate of India and surrounding lands: the northeast monsoon from October to April is the dry season; the southwest monsoon from April to October is the main climatic event bringing heavy rains to the region from the Indus valley to the East Indies. Lands with a monsoonal rainfall pattern, i.e., a long dry season with an intense rainfall peak in summer, cover a very large area in the tropics and subtropics of Africa and Australasia. Whyte (1968) classes the grasslands of the Sahelian and Sudano-Sahelian zones of Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea as monsoonal, along with those of the Sudan and the countries of the Horn of Africa. Parts of southern Africa and the east coast of Madagascar also have a monsoonal rainfall pattern. Southern Arabia, Pakistan from the borders of Balochistan and NWFP, India, Nepal, Myanmar and much of Southeast Asia are monsoonal, as are Queensland, the Northern Territories and part of Western Australia in Australia.

Figure 31. Monthly precipitation and temperatures for Lahore, Pakistan

In its wider application, monsoonal describes a large area of the tropics and subtropics which have a long dry season and a short, but intense, rainy season. The natural grasslands of the "monsoon" zone have a very seasonal production pattern, which results in a low potential for development of ruminant production unless supplemented from arable land. This is a difficult region for non-irrigated hay production. The peak of the rainfed crop, natural or sown, comes at a time of high rainfall and humidity, often with much cloud, so field drying is difficult. In hilly and forest areas much hay is made from natural pasture, but usually at the end of the monsoon, when herbage quality is very low indeed, even if drying is easier.

In much of this area, however, ruminant livestock are very important. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh combined have some 23% of the world's large ruminants (See Table 6) and 235 million sheep and goats - some 14.5% of the world total. Milk is a staple of the national diets. Most are kept on small farms. Some, especially small stock kept by pastoralists, must depend for much of the year on stubbles, crop residues, fodder in irrigated areas, and dried feed.

Table 6. Large ruminants in southern Asia (millions)



Total Large Ruminants

















As % of World Total




World Total

1 281.5


1 421.5

Source: FAO Animal Production Yearbook for 1989

Lahore's climate (Figure 31) is typical of much of the irrigated tracts of Punjab, a region where dairying is extremely important. The climate is semi-arid but, with irrigation, growth continues for most of the year, with only a few weeks when temperatures are too low for most crops. The main feeds are green fodder and crop residues. A series of annual crops are grown to fit the wide seasonal range of temperatures: berseem, oats and mustard in winter; sorghums and maize in summer. Oat hay is now an important winter crop; dried sorghum and bulrush millet are conserved in autumn. Some lucerne is grown in the western part of the State, but mostly as an annual, since the monsoon brings disease and encroachment by rhizomatous grasses.

Figure 32. Crop residues as winter feed: wheat straw (in mud-plastered mounds), maize stover and mung (Vigna radiata) threshings (Gereskh, Afghanistan)

Jhansi's climate (Figure 33) is typical of much of the higher rainfall lands of Uttar Pradesh, with eight months almost completely rainless and heavy precipitation from mid-June to mid-September. For much of the year, the grazing produces very little, but livestock are important for milk and draught in the local economy. Agriculture is rainfed, with little or no irrigation; holdings are small and unmechanized. Some poor and overripe hay is made on wasteland, but during the period when grasses (wild or sown) are at a suitable stage for conservation, the weather is unsuited to haymaking. Sorghum is grown to reach heading at the start of the dry season, then hand cut, field dried and stacked upright; it is chaffed before feeding to livestock.

Figure 33. Monthly precipitation and temperatures in Jhansi, India

Sub-humid subtropics

Teff (Eragrostis tef) and weeping lovegrass (E. curvula) are very widely grown for hay in southern Africa. Dallis grass, star grass and fodder sorghums are suited to this zone. Where soil conditions are suitable and humidity low, lucerne is grown. Among the pulses, soya, cowpea and groundnut can be used for hay.

Saline soils in the subtropics

Rhodes grass, Diplachne fusca, Melilotus indica and Sesbania sesban are suitable for hay production, as are bulrush millet and sorghum.

Mediterranean lands

The climate is characterized by the alternation of a rainy season in the winter months with a dry season in the warm months. Grassland production is very variable; normally it starts in autumn with the first rains, and continues but slows down during winter because of low temperatures; it speeds up greatly in spring to reach a peak, and then ceases at the end of spring due to dry conditions. The colder the area the longer is the winter gap.

Pastoralists in the Mediterranean lands have generally developed transhumance systems for their flocks (Papanastasis and Mansat, 1996). This zone has a very long tradition of fodder cultivation and haymaking and many well-adapted fodders. Where irrigation is available, hay can also be made in the hot months. In addition to the lands immediately adjacent to the Mediterranean sea, "Mediterranean" type climates with winter rainfall occur in parts of Australia, South Africa, the western USA, Chile and Argentina.

Figure 34. Monthly precipitation and temperatures for Jendouba, Tunisia

A wide range of fodder legumes is available. Lucerne is a prime hay crop on neutral to alkaline, well-drained soils, either rainfed or under irrigation. Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) is sometimes used where the soil and water supply is marginal for lucerne. Sulla (Hedysarum coronarium) thrives on heavy calcareous marls unsuitable for other legumes, so long as the area is not too frosty in winter - it is a coarse legume but a high yielder that requires careful drying.

Several clovers are adapted to the region: Berseem grows well where winters are mild; shaftal and crimson clover survive colder conditions. White clover requires summer irrigation. On salt-affected soils, Melilotus can be grown. Serradella (Ornithopus sativa) is sometimes used on sandy soils. Strawberry clover (T. fragiferum) occurs naturally where there is moisture at depth.

Pasture grasses suitable for haymaking and adapted to this zone are usually best suited to larger enterprises, where fencing and management of grazing is practicable. In well-watered areas, ryegrasses and Phalaris aquatica thrive where annual precipitation exceeds 500 mm. Tall fescue is very tolerant of waterlogging (although it also thrives on well-drained sites) once established; it can be combined with Trifolium fragiferum on wet land for grazing, but it is difficult to maintain the legume in fields managed for hay.

Arable fodders are well represented. Vetches and peas are hardy winter crops, and fenugreek is also used as hay. Most hay is grown in the cool season but, where moisture is available in summer, Sudan grass and fodder sorghums can be grown. Oat is a major hay crop, especially in North Africa, often for sale to transhumant flocks or for transport to the desert fringe, and it can be grown on most well-drained soils. Oat hay in Tunisia (Jendouba is a typical site - see Figure 34) is associated with mechanized cereal farming, as much of the equipment is common to both and is mainly done for sale, allowing the farmers to concentrate on crop production without incurring fencing and water-supply costs, and also enabling them to leave their farms and attend to other matters during the long, hot, dry summer. Carob is cultivated for fodder pods in some frost-free parts of the zone, with Cyprus a noted producer.

Arid and semi-arid zones

In arid areas, of course, all crops are grown under irrigation. Hay is a common crop in arid parts of Asia. Rainfed, sown hay in semi-arid areas is commonest on large farms, since yields are generally erratic through variations in rainfall. Lucerne can be grown on suitable soils. Teff is used for hay in South Africa, but nowhere else; buffelgrass can be grown in tropical and warm subtropical sites.

Irrigated forage production is traditional in oasis situations, lucerne being the major crop. In recent years there has been a great expansion of large-scale fodder production by sprinkler systems, often centre-pivots, to supply dairies and sporting livestock in the oil-producing countries of Arabia. Lucerne is a major hay crop; sorghums are suitable, as is Rhodes grass, which can be used with more saline water or on more saline land than can the others. These fodder and haymaking systems are highly mechanized and, in the sunny and dry climate, because curing is rapid, care must be taken to avoid shattering.

Winter-cold zones

Small-scale farm situations

Large areas of traditional pastoral land are in semi-arid to arid, temperate zones with cold winters and hot summers. Lucerne is the preferred hay of most of such zones, with sainfoin on the poorer soils. Sweet clover can be grown on land too dry or too saline for lucerne, and as a short-term fodder or soil improver. Birdsfoot trefoil (L. corniculatus) grows well but so far has only been cultivated experimentally under small-scale farm conditions. Ghazni (see Figure 35) shows typical conditions, as described in the case studies on Altai and the Northern Areas of Pakistan: all situations with irrigation and a hot growing season. Hay is an important component of production systems under such conditions. Grasses are not usually cultivated. Oats and vetch are suitable annuals. Where the thermal growing season is very short and precipitation low, as for Mongolia, natural hay is the usual choice.

Figure 35. Monthly precipitation and temperatures in Ghazni, Afghanistan

Intensive temperate situations

Rainfall in temperate climates is spread throughout the year. A wide range of hay crops have been developed for this zone, since it was a forerunner in the modernization and intensification of agriculture and mixed farming systems. The many variations in climate can be split according to the severity of the winters and to whether the summers are hot or merely warm.

Temperate areas with hot summers

In areas with hot summers, crops such as maize and sorghum can be grown for conservation, although silage is now much more common than hay. Lucerne is grown where soil and humidity permit.

Temperate areas with warm summers

Where winters are mild and summers warm, the classical pasture grasses and legumes are grown, alone or in mixtures: Italian and perennial ryegrasses on fertile soils; timothy on heavy land; lucerne on well-drained neutral to alkaline soils; red clover or ladino clover in mixture; and cocksfoot in drier, hotter areas or on poorer soils. Mixtures which are both grazed and conserved are common. Oats and vetches are suitable arable fodders.

Cold winters and warm summers

Where winters are cold and summers warm, timothy (Phleum pratense) is the preferred hay grass and red clover or lucerne (according to soil) the main legume. Oats, sweet clovers (Melilotus spp.) and vetches can be grown. For waterlogged land, Phalaris arundinacea can be used; this grass has a very wide range of adaptation and, while extremely cold-hardy, is also part of the traditional hayfields of high-altitude Ethiopia.

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