BHUBANESWAR : Growing up in the hinterlands of Rayagada district, K Shivaprasad Rao had realised how important cattle are to the village economy. Decades later, he volunteers to make sure that cattle in a local dairy farm are fed well.
A businessman by profession, 60-year-old Rao invests his free time in arranging fodder for cattle in Satya Sai Gokulam dairy farm at Ambodola in the district. The dairy was started by members of a trust, Sathya Sai Seva Samithi in 2011 with an aim to meet the expenses of Sai Karunalayam, an orphanage. He has been collecting expired biscuits, paddy husk and rice bran from the locality for the last two years. The farm requires nearly one quintal of fodder daily.
Once in a week, he goes around all the grocery stores in Ambodola and nearby areas to collect biscuits of various brands that have expired within one to three months. “We have limited resources to maintain the dairy since the organisation runs on charity. So, I have always been on the lookout for good quality cattle feed at low prices or for free,” said Rao.
Two years back, while shopping at a grocery store, he saw piles of biscuit packets that were past the expiration date. The biscuits were stocked to be discarded by the store owner. “The packets were mostly one to two months past the expiration date. I thought of approaching the store owner to give me those packets to feed the cattle and he happily agreed”, recalled Rao.
Ever since, he has been approaching grocery store owners and shopkeepers to donate such biscuits for the dairy farm. Considering it to be a noble gesture, no one has ever said no, he said. Similarly, paddy husk and bran – a by-product of the rice milling industry- that could have otherwise ended up in landfill, is also collected by Rao from 10 paddy huller units present in the area on a daily basis.
“Rather than ending up in a landfill, these can be fed to cattle, reducing the loss for the producer, production cost for the dairy farm and environmental impact of placing the waste in the landfill”, he said. Veterinarian Dr Anindya Jena, who visits the dairy for checking the animals, said the biscuits are a good source of carbohydrates for the cattle. And adding them to the rice bran can increase the nutritive value of the feed.