Su­pak sys­tem for cat­tle

Agriculture - - Contents -

DUR­ING PRO­LONGED dry and hu­mid pe­ri­ods, an­i­mals de­crease their feed in­take, even if feed­stuffs are avail­able. Hence, farm own­ers have dif­fi­culty fat­ten­ing their an­i­mals and meet­ing the de­sired weight on time.

Cat­tle farm­ers in Batan­gas province prac­tice an indige­nous tech­nol­ogy known as su­pak sys­tem or forced feed­ing scheme. This tech­nol­ogy is also prac­ticed in other ar­eas in the Philip­pines where back­yard cat­tle fat­ten­ing ac­tiv­i­ties ex­ist.

While this feed­ing is la­bor-in­ten­sive and highly ap­pli­ca­ble only to trained and tame an­i­mals, the su­pak sys­tem can boost cat­tle per­for­mance to meet the de­sired weight on sched­ule even dur­ing the on­set of El Niño. This prac­tice serves as a feed sup­ple­men­ta­tion strat­egy when the sup­ply of for­ages and grasses is lim­ited. The su­pak method en­sures that the an­i­mal’s nu­tri­ent re­quire­ments are met, and it has been proven to re­sult in qual­ity beef.

The su­pak method is rec­om­mended to farm­ers with tame or trained cat­tle; avail­able feed in­gre­di­ents and ma­te­ri­als for prepa­ra­tion of su­pak mix­ture; knowl­edge of de­worm­ing and par­a­site con­trol prac­tices; and in­for­ma­tion on proper forced feed­ing.

Re­quired in­gre­di­ents and ma­te­ri­als 1. 15-25 kilo­grams (kg) fresh ‘ipil-ipil’ ( Leu­caena leu­co­cephala) leaves 2. 15-19 liters (L) water 3. 1 kg rice ( Oryza sativa) bran 4. 100 grams (g) salt or mo­lasses 5. Basin 6. Bam­boo ( Bam­busa spp.) at least 30 cm long and 6 cm wide

Prepa­ra­tion and ad­min­is­tra­tion of the mix­ture 1. Gather 15-25 kg of ipil-ipil leaves. Finely chop and pound the leaves. 2. Mix the pounded ipil-ipil leaves with 15-19 L water, 1 kg rice bran, and 100 g salt or mo­lasses. 3. Pre­pare a di­ag­o­nally sliced bam­boo tube, ap­prox­i­mately 30 cen­time­ters (cm) long and 6 cm wide (Fig. 1). Thor­oughly clean and pol­ish the bam­boo tube to avoid in­ter­nal in­juries in an­i­mals. 4. Use the bam­boo tube once or twice daily to feed the mix­ture to the cat­tle.

Make sure that the feed mix­ture does not go into the cat­tle’s wind­pipe (Fig. 2), as im­proper ap­pli­ca­tion may lead to vom­it­ing or re­s­pi­ra­tory prob­lems. Rec­om­men­da­tions Pro­vide houses or shel­ters to pro­tect the an­i­mals against harsh weather el­e­ments. Al­lot at least 1.5 square me­ters (m2) of

space for each an­i­mal kept in houses to pre­vent over­crowd­ing that may in­crease the harm­ful ef­fects of hu­mid­ity and tem­per­a­ture ex­tremes. If an­i­mals are al­lowed to graze, al­lot at least 5 me­ters (m) of space per an­i­mals.

De­worm and spray against in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal par­a­sites. Con­sult a vet­eri­nar­ian re­gard­ing proper health man­age­ment.

Bathe the an­i­mals at least once a week to en­sure hy­giene and im­prove their feed in­take.

Feed the cat­tle daily with dry mat­ter (DM) equiv­a­lent ac­cord­ing to age (Ta­ble 1), and al­ways pro­vide clean drink­ing water.


In ar­eas with dis­tinct dry and wet sea­sons, farm­ers col­lect rice ( O. sativa) straw from the field af­ter grain har­vest and store them as feed dur­ing lean pe­ri­ods of the year.

Rice straw is a fi­brous crop residue de­rived from rice pro­duc­tion, and it is stored through stack-pil­ing in a cone­shaped man­ner known as man­dala.

When fresh for­age is scarce, farm­ers rely heav­ily on rice straw as feed, par­tic­u­larly for carabao and cat­tle. Farm­ers ei­ther gather rice straw from the pile and give them to the an­i­mals, or let the an­i­mals eat or browse from the pile.

Rice straw is abun­dant in al­most all live­stock pro­duc­tion ar­eas, and its us­age does not en­tail ad­di­tional cost to carabao and cat­tle rais­ers. How­ever, its low crude pro­tein (CP) con­tent (less than 7% di­etary pro­tein re­quire­ment for vol­un­tary in­take) and min­eral de­fi­ciency (Ca, P, and Mg) re­quire sup­ple­men­ta­tion of other pro­tein and en­ergy-rich feed­stuffs, such as lo­cally avail­able con­cen­trates, green for­ages, and nu­tri­ent block, e.g., urea-mo­lasses-min­eral block (UMMB).

Bulk stor­age of rice straw in a closed shed is a fire haz­ard, es­pe­cially dur­ing ex­tremely dry and hot con­di­tions. More­over, trans­port­ing rice straw from paddy fields can also trans­mit par­a­sites, such as liver fluke ( Fas­ci­ola hep­at­ica).


Prac­tice sup­ple­men­ta­tion with high-en­ergy feed­stuffs, such as corn, grated co­conut and palay, or home-mixed ra­tions (i.e., 30% co­pra, 40% corn, and 30% rice bran) dur­ing pro­longed dry or wet months when there is a short­age in nat­u­ral feeds.

High-en­ergy feed sup­ple­men­ta­tion is rec­om­mended to farm­ers with na­tive chick­ens; land area with avail­able nat­u­ral feed sup­ple­ments and drink­ing water; hous­ing fix­tures with feed­ers and wa­ter­ers; and in­for­ma­tion ma­te­ri­als on the tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing vac­ci­na­tion and dis­ease pre­ven­tion.

Feed­ing na­tive poul­try with com­mer­cial feeds im­proves their pro­duc­tive per­for­mance. How­ever, this prac­tice may not be eco­nom­i­cal since na­tive poul­try are not as ge­net­i­cally ef­fi­cient as com­mer­cial poul­try strains.

Give the na­tive chick­ens enough time and free ac­cess to the field to look for food. Lure in­sects and worms by col­lect­ing and dump­ing hay in the area where the na­tive chick­ens for­age. To max­i­mize ac­cess to nat­u­ral feeds in the field, give the birds their proper feed­ing space, ideally, about 2.5-5 m2/bird.

Feed sup­ple­men­ta­tion is usu­ally done twice a day: once in the early morn­ing be­tween 6:00-7:00 am and an­other in the late af­ter­noon around 4:00 pm. Use feed­ers within the na­tive chick­ens’ hous­ing fix­tures to train the birds to re­turn home and al­low the farmer to do a head­count at the end of the day.

While feed­stuffs are gen­er­ally given ad li­bi­tum, it is safe to give 40-60 g to each chicken per day. More­over, al­ways pro­vide the na­tive birds with clean and fresh water us­ing basins, plas­tic trays, and bam­boo poles split in half.

Prac­tice vac­ci­na­tion as a com­mu­nity-based ac­tiv­ity. Vac­ci­nate against the avian pest, NCD, when na­tive birds are one week old. At the on­set of dis­eases, sep­a­rate the in­fected birds from the healthy ones. Prop­erly dis­pose of dead birds by burn­ing or bury­ing them in the ground to avoid trans­mit­ting dis­ease-caus­ing bac­te­ria and germs to other birds.


Most indige­nous fod­der trees and shrubs re­main fresh and suc­cu­lent even in dry con­di­tions due to their deep­rot sys­tems. Feed­ing ruminants with crop residues from newly-har­vested crops can pro­vide the nec­es­sary bulk and ad­di­tional mois­ture. Th­ese high-mois­ture feed­stuffs are chopped into small pieces, about a foot long, and hand-fed to the an­i­mals; hand-feed­ing helps make the an­i­mals tamer and eas­ier to han­dle.

Co­conuts ( Co­cos nu­cifera) are quite com­mon along the coun­try­side, mak­ing them eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to farm­ers. Both carabao and cat­tle rel­ish the soft and suc­cu­lent co­conut fronds, which also pro­vide some nu­tri­ents that are lim­ited in other avail­able feed­stuffs. Co­conut fronds add bulk and in­crease the daily DM in­take of the ruminants.

Us­ing high-mois­ture feeds is rec­om­mended to carabao and cat­tle rais­ers with ac­cess to feed ma­te­ri­als such as ba­nana trunks and co­conut fronds; prac­tices de­worm­ing and par­a­site con­trol; and owns im­ple­ments for cut­ting or slic­ing and peeling off feed ma­te­ri­als.

While this prac­tice does not en­tail ad­di­tional costs to farm­ers, prepa­ra­tion of high-mois­ture feeds can be la­bor­in­ten­sive (Fig. 3), and high-mois­ture feeds have rel­a­tive low feed­ing value, ex­cept for legu­mi­nous feed ma­te­ri­als. To give ruminants a more balanced ra­tion, and other con­cen­trates, feeds, for­ages, and nu­tri­ent blocks.

Prepa­ra­tion of co­conut fronds as feeds 1. Col­lect fresh green fronds from co­conut palms. Co­conut fronds are the woody part of co­conut leaves. 2. Sep­a­rate the wood frond from the leaflets. 3. Cut fronds into de­sir­able lengths of about a foot and peel or scrape their outer sheath or cov­er­ing. 4. Split the co­conut fronds into thin slices. 5. Hand-feed the sliced co­conut fronds to the an­i­mals.


Live­stock rais­ers use any avail­able feed ma­te­ri­als for their an­i­mals dur­ing pe­ri­ods of feed scarcity. Rice straw is the most com­monly avail­able feed­stuff, so it en­tails min­i­mal cost to farm­ers. Due to its poor feed­ing value, rice straw can­not sup­port live weight main­te­nance and an­i­mal pro­duc­tion when fed alone. Us­ing rice straw with lim­ited con­cen­trate is rec­om­mended to farm­ers with ruminants and ac­cess to rice straw and con­cen­trates, e.g., rice bran, co­pra meal, etc.

Sup­ple­men­ta­tion of con­cen­trates in lim­ited quan­ti­ties (12-20% of to­tal DM ra­tion) im­proves di­gestibil­ity and/or in­take of rice straw; in­creases avail­able nu­tri­ents to an­i­mals; and pro­motes an­i­mal growth and/or pro­duc­tion. Give a small amount of con­cen­trates in the morn­ing fol­lowed by ad li­bi­tum feed­ing of rice straw af­ter an­i­mals have con­sumed the con­cen­trate. Us­ing a lim­ited amount of con­cen­trates will not re­duce the in­take of the basal diet, as in the case of lib­eral con­cen­trate sup­ple­men­ta­tion.

The amount of rec­om­mended DM ra­tion de­pends on the an­i­mal’s weight and ranges 0.3-0.6% of live weight or 12-20% of the to­tal DM ra­tion. For ex­am­ple, a 400-kg cat­tle, on an ad li­bi­tum feed­ing of rice straw, re­quires at least 1.2 kg of con­cen­trates per day.


As a feed sup­ple­ment, the UMMB sup­plies the an­i­mals with en­ergy, pro­tein, and other es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents and min­er­als that are usu­ally de­fi­cient in low-qual­ity basal ra­tion such as rice straw.

The block can be pre­pared us­ing sev­eral for­mu­la­tions, de­pend­ing on the sup­ply and price of the re­quired in­gre­di­ents. The main in­gre­di­ents and their pro­por­tion in the for­mu­la­tion are in­di­cated in Ta­ble 2. Use vats or any large con­tainer and spades to mix the UMMB in­gre­di­ents, then mould us­ing fab­ri­cated steel boxes, wooden frames, or plas­tic bags. Re­tain the UMMB’s solid, hard, and com­pact form by pro­tect­ing it from rain and other water sources.

The amount of UMMB to be given is based on the type and weight of the ruminants. A 5-kg block may be good for 7-10 days for a carabao or cat­tle weigh­ing 350-400 kg.

Over­con­sump­tion of the UMMB may be toxic, so the sup­ple­men­ta­tion is not rec­om­mended to an­i­mals that are younger than six months or those that are hun­gry. Com­ple­ment UMMB sup­ple­men­ta­tion with pro­vi­sion of clean drink­ing water. (PCAARRD IN­FOR­MA­TION BUL­LETIN)

Fig. 1. Bam­boo spec­i­fi­ca­tions and us­age (IIRR 1992).

Fig. 2. Proper an­i­mal po­si­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of feed (IIRR 1992).

Ta­ble 1. DM equiv­a­lent to age and body weight of cat­tle (PCAARRD 2001).

Fig. 3. Prepa­ra­tion of co­conut fronds as high-mois­ture feeds (PCAARRD 2001).

Ta­ble 2. Pro­por­tions of UMMB in­gre­di­ents (PCAARRD 2001).

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