Importance of Ranching in Solving Feed Problem

Feed is the major cost in livestock farming. Cost of feed is one of the reasons herders in West and North Africa adopt nomadic system of husbandry where the livestock openly graze. It’s not that the herders who are predominantly Fulani like to live in the bush rather, it is because they can’t afford to buy the feeds that can feed their livestock, if they were to adopt sedentary method. Read Advantages and Disadvantages of Ranching, this is well explained in the article. 
Alt: = "photo of cattle grazing on field in a ranch"

Ranching 

Ranch is a place with suitable amenities and implements where cattle and livestock animals are raised for meat, dairy or wool. Ranching is the practice of raising cattle and livestock animals in a confined space. Ranching is mostly practiced in America and Europe. The sub-Sahara Africa is yet to embrace ranching — they still practice the extensive or traditional system of livestock production which is nomadic and primitive method. In extensive system, cattle are moved from one location to another by nomadic husbandmen covering long distances in search of pasture. 

Livestock Feeds and Feeding 

Feeds for cattle, goats and sheep include roughage, concentrates, water, mineral and vitamin premix.  The sources of roughage include grass, legume hays, cereal crops residue and corn cobs. Concentrates sourced from rice offal, groundnut cake, maize offal, cotton seed cake, guinea corn and mille.

Good feeding means providing good grazing pastures and minerals with calcium, clean water in right proportions during the wet and dry seasons. 

A ration for a livestock should be about 3% of its weight. For instance, if a cattle weighs 250kg, its ration should be 3/100 * 250k = 7.5kg. The ratio of roughages to concentrates is 60:40 

Ration is the total feed that is given to animal in a day. 

Alt: = "photo of cattle feeding in a ranch"

How Ranching Solves Feed Problem 

In Zero Ranching, there are usually grazing field with good pasture for the animals to graze and/ or hay baling, and portion for crop planting from where other roughages and concentrates can be produced. The animal dungs serve as source of manure to the grasses and crops. Practically, most ranchers practice mixed farming. The ranchers who do not practice zero ranching are the ones who face feed problem and expend so much on feeds. With good grazing pastures within the ranch, there will be regular supply of feeds for the livestock both in dry and rainy seasons because such pastures can be maintained through irrigation during the dry season. Producing feed locally helps in minimizing the risk of introducing new pests in the area and protects the livestock from feeding on poisonous plants. 

Alt: = "photo of farm tractor"
Farm Tractor 
Source: Machines4u.com.au

Ranching can help address feed-related problems in the following ways:

Grass-fed Grazing

Ranchers can utilize pasture and rangeland to raise livestock, reducing the reliance on purchased feed such as grains. This lowers costs and can provide a more natural diet for the animals.

Utilization of Marginal Lands

Ranching often utilizes lands that are not suitable for crop production, allowing for efficient use of resources that might otherwise go unused.

Diversification of Feed Sources

Ranchers can incorporate a variety of feed sources, including pasture, hay, silage, and crop residues, which can help manage feed costs and availability.

Reduction in Peed Waste

Grazing animals directly consume vegetation, minimizing waste compared to harvested feed that can spoil or be contaminated.

Sustainable Practices

Ranchers can implement sustainable practices such as rotational grazing, which can improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and enhance the health of pastures, making them more resilient to drought and other environmental challenges.

Local and Regional Resilience

Ranching supports local food systems by producing food close to where it's consumed, reducing reliance on distant supply chains that may be vulnerable to disruption.

Supporting Biodiversity

Well-managed ranching practices can enhance biodiversity by maintaining natural habitats and ecosystems.

In conclusion, ranching can contribute to solving feed-related problems by utilizing natural resources efficiently, promoting sustainable practices, and supporting local food systems.

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Ikechukwu Evegbu

Ikechukwu Evegbu is a graduate of Statistics with over 10 years experience as Data Analyst. Worked with Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. A prolific business development content writer. He's the Editor, Business Compiler

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