Agriculture - - Green Feeds - BY ANGIE M. VENERACION

THE BUREAU OF AN­I­MAL INDUSTRYLive­stock Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Di­vi­sion (BAILRDD) re­cently con­ducted a sem­i­nar on For­age Es­tab­lish­ment, Man­age­ment, and Uti­liza­tion at Aven Na­ture’s Farm in Bal­i­uag, Bu­la­can. The sem­i­nar was held at the re­quest of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Rab­bit Meat Pro­duc­ers (ARaMP) Inc. With this sem­i­nar, the as­so­ci­a­tion aims to aug­ment the knowl­edge of its mem­bers on the proper care and nu­tri­tion of rab­bits; it is hoped that this will even­tu­ally lead to increased pro­duc­tiv­ity and im­proved an­i­mal health. With increased pro­duc­tion, ARaMP hopes to be able to meet the grow­ing de­mand for rab­bits as pets, lab­o­ra­tory an­i­mals, breed­ers, and meat sources.

BAI-LRDD re­source per­son Al­bert F. Astillero shared that for­age—the cheap­est feed re­source for an­i­mals—re­quires man­age­ment, and that high yields of for­age may be achieved with high soil fer­til­ity lev­els. As the Philip­pines is a trop­i­cal coun­try, lo­cal for­age (which in­cludes grasses, legumes, and broadleaf non-legumes) are abun­dantly avail­able. How­ever, there is still a need for the es­tab­lish­ment of for­age nurs­eries and plan­ta­tions to en­sure a con­tin­u­ous sup­ply of feed for live­stock.

Astillero­pointed out that prop­erly man­aged for­age plan­ta­tions will pro­vide good qual­ity feed,and that this will re­sult­ing in bet­ter nu­tri­tion of live­stock. An­i­mal grow­ers must also be ed­u­cated as to which parts of the plants are edi­ble for par­tic­u­lar live­stock, since th­ese an­i­mals, es­pe­cially rab­bits, have the ten­dency to be se­lec­tive. Fac­tors such as di­gestibil­ity and nu­tri­tive value (af­fected by plant part, age, and specie), and palata­bil­ity (af­fected by specie prop­er­ties per­tain­ing to taste and hairi­ness) must be con­sid­ered to de­ter­mine the plant most suit­able for a par­tic­u­lar an­i­mal.

Pho­tographs from the BAI-LRDD files (pro­vided by Astillero and Jaime San Bue­naven­tura) were in­cluded to help as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers rec­og­nize the for­age plants and cau­tion them about their var­i­ous prop­er­ties. Th­ese plants in­cluded ipil-ipil, in­digofera, kakawati, and sig­nal grass, as th­ese have tox­ins and may be harm­ful or have adverse ef­fects on rab­bits and other an­i­mals.

For­age may be in­te­grated in plan­ta­tions and planted un­der co­conut trees.They have sev­eral uses on top of pro­vid­ing a source of feed to live­stock. They may also be used as liv­ing fences, trel­lises for climb­ing plants, and ground cover that can help pre­vent soil ero­sion and degra­da­tion. Some for­age plants are nitro­gen fix­ers and can increase soil fer­til­ity. They also pro­vide other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts like fire­wood and char­coal. The sale of th­ese plants’ seeds, seedlings, and plant­ing ma­te­ri­als can be a source of ad­di­tional in­come to the an­i­mal raiser.

Al­bert Astillero, re­source per­son from BAI-LRDD, shown con­duct­ing a sem­i­nar for ARaMP mem­bers.

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