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If you keep chickens or ducks or pigs, getting enough feed can sometimes be a challenge. There may be a shortage of feed in your country. Or it may simply be that animal feed is too expensive to buy. So you have to find some different, cheaper feeds.

Today we have suggestions for alternative feeds from Cuba and the Philippines.

Maria Elena Gonzalez reports that in Cuba when there is a shortage of poultry feed, farmers look around their home and farm for wastes or any crops that aren’t being used. They try to find things that can replace expensive feeds and complete the birds’ diet. And they have some useful ideas.

For example, they add pumpkin (squash, gourds) to the birds’ feed. They chop and dry pumpkins and feed them to laying hens with good results.

Pumpkins have as much or more protein and fat as maize and cassava flours which are also used to feed chickens.

Taro is another plant used to feed poultry in Cuba. Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a tuber also known as dasheen or cocoyam. You can use taro as a substitute for maize or other grains. Grind the taro into flour.

Add up to 15% of this flour to the diet of chicks between the ages of one day to four weeks. Of course you must also have enough protein, vitamins and minerals in the feed.

Maria in Cuba also reminds farmers that to get a good start in life, chickens must eat well from an early age. Chickens gain weight quickly – they can gain 10 times their weight in the first four weeks of life.


And next, from Mr. Ignacio Obrero in the Philippines, a word about pig feed.

Ignacio says that many farmers believe that pigs will only grow properly with commercial feeds. This is not true. In many areas where farmers cannot afford expensive feeds they are using local plants as feed substitutes. And they are getting good results.

One of these plants is cassava (Mannihot esculenta). It can be used to replace maize or other grains. The farmers gather cassava tubers, leaves and the juicy parts of the stem. They boil them together in water.

They add a little salt, and a little amount of fish meal. The fish meal provides protein which is an essential part of the pigs’ diet. So this becomes an easy, cheap feed for the pig. And to have a steady supply, some farmers plant cassava on a monthly basis. This way, they can harvest cassava any time of the year and use it as livestock feed


Remember that your animal needs a variety of different feeds. Give animals plenty of grain or a grain substitute, a source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and adequate water at all times.


Reviewed by Vigneswaran Theivendaram, Agricultural Consultant and Poultry Specialist, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.