If you feed your animals well in the dry season they are ready for the hard work of cultivating the fields when the rains come. And good feeding all year round helps your cows produce more milk. It also helps them produce young ones more often. It’s the same with other animals too.
Animal feed for the dry season doesn’t have to cost money. Farmers can make good use of stems, stalks, and leaves from crops such as maize, sorghum, rice, and groundnuts (peanuts). For every hectare of groundnuts planted, there may be three tons of hay. Each ton is enough to keep several animals alive at the end of the dry season.
Groundnut hay is valuable because it has protein which makes cattle grow faster. Just as some farmers feed the beautiful green leaves and stems to their oxen to keep them strong and healthy, they should also feed it to their cows to get more milk and to their young animals to make them grow faster. Where there is a good market for groundnut hay, farmers may sell it to people who keep horses and donkeys.
The best groundnut hay has lots of leaves. It is the leaves of this plant that have the most protein. The leaves will fall off the plants if the groundnuts are harvested too late, if they’re dried too quickly under the hot sun, or if they’re left lying in the field for too long.
So, if possible, try not to leave the plants lying on the ground for more than a day or two after lifting them. During that time you should keep animals out of the fields because, when they trample on the hay, much of it is spoiled. Finish drying the cut plants on racks or in stacks. Make sure air circulates through them to dry them. However, don’t stack any plants that are still wet from rain or dew, as they’ll get mouldy and rot. Dry them first.
After the groundnuts have been removed from the vines, store the groundnut hay, keeping it dry and sheltered from the rain if necessary. Store it up off the ground, perhaps on a platform, so it doesn’t get damp and mouldy. This will also help protect it from termites.
Then in the dry season, when your cattle and other livestock can’t find fresh feed, give them this groundnut hay. They will enjoy it, and it will help to keep them strong and healthy until the rains come again.
Senelaa, The Gambian Field Workers’ Magazine, No. 43, April 1987, page 7. Extension Aids Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Yundum, The Gambia.
DCFRN Participant Mr. Désiré Agoundote, Benin, West Africa.
Better Farming Series No. 17: Groundnuts. 1977 edition, 40 pages). Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. (Published by arrangement with the Institut Africain pour le développement économique et social (INADES), B.P. 8008, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.)
Kunzwa Ukuzwa Vol. 15, No. 2, March/April 1983, (photo on page 4). Agricultural Technical & Extension Services, Zimbabwe. Sent by Participant James Biscoe in Zimbabwe.
Animal Traction in Africa. 1982. 490 pages. (photo on page 417), by Peter Munzinger. Published by GTZ GmbH (German Agency for Technical Cooperation), Dag Hammerskjold Weg 1, D 6236 Eschborn, West Germany.