Too many sheep, too little food in Telangana: Study

Researchers from PV Narsimha Rao Telangana State Veterinary University found that green forage, high nutrition food for livestock, is scarce in the TS

Published: 03rd January 2018 03:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd January 2018 07:42 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: A recently published study has questioned the scientific viability of Telangana government’s sheep distribution programme. The study, conducted by researchers from PV Narsimha Rao Telangana State Veterinary University (PVNRTSVU) and published in the Indian Journal Of Animal Research, estimates the potential availability of food resources for livestock in the state.

It pegged the State’s food resources for livestock at 19.47 million tonnes, of which green forage is only 2.38 MT and concentrates around 2.08 MT -- around 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. The major food source (almost 77 per cent) is crop residues that accounts for 15 MT, and that mostly comes from just two crops -- paddy and maize.

The State, however, has a requirement of 12 MT of crop residues, 6.3 MT of green forage and 6.3 MT of concentrates. This means, the diet available for sheep in the State is of low nutritional value.

“In Telangana most of the livestock is fed with crop residues which are high on roughage but low on nutritional value,” says the lead author of the study J Raju. They can satisfy hunger of livestock but will not provide much nutrition. Green forage and concentrates are essential to have healthy and high yielding livestock but is available in very less quantities in Telangana.”

Lack of nutrition, Raju points out, can affect health of the livestock and cause complications like abortions and deficiency-related diseases. Unfortunately, while the state has second highest number of sheep in the country, there are not many resources for green forage in the state.

A massive 43 per cent of green forage comes from forest areas. Not surprisingly, the Chief Minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao recently instructed district officials to ensure sheep are allowed to graze in forest lands, which occupy just around 15 percent of the state’s geographic area.

The government has distributed 35 lakh sheep that have given birth to another 13 lakh, putting stress on food sources. “There is a need to bringing more fallow land under fodder crop cultivation so that the livestock can be provided more nutritious food,” says Raju.  

Katam Sridhar, Master of Veterinary Science student at PVNRTSVU, says, “The government should have first estimated the fodder availability in state and taken measures to increase the availability of green fodder and concentrates before going about distributing lakhs of sheep.”

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