We often hear nurses and village health workers talk about eating nutritious foods. Energy‑giving foods give us the strength to work and exercise. Body‑building foods help us repair damaged body tissue. Vitamins and minerals protect us from disease.
Cattle are like us: they need nutritious food to keep healthy.
Many farmers have trouble keeping their cattle healthy during the dry season. It is especially difficult in times of drought. In times of drought, there may be no grazing or feed for your animals. By the time the rains come, animals are often too weak to pull a plough. But chickens may be the solution to the problem.
Mr. Madembo is a teacher at the Mlezu Institute of Agriculture in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe. He has discovered that dried chicken manure is a good substitute for cattle feed. It is less expensive than other feeds, and it is an excellent source of protein. It takes about three days for cattle to get used to chicken manure but after three weeks of eating it the cattle are in good condition.
The manure you use should be direct droppings from chickens that are kept in cages. That is, you should not use the manure from chickens raised in a litter system, because it will contain fibre as well as manure. If your cattle eat litter, they will get too much fibre. Even if the litter is decomposed so that you cannot see the fibre in it, you should not feed it to the cattle. The litter also might contain things such as sawdust that are dangerous for cattle.
Mr. Msipa, a farmer in Zimbabwe, used dried chicken manure to feed his cows. It worked for him. Mr. Msipa mixes one bag of crushed maize with three bags of dried chicken manure and feeds each cow about 3 to 5 kilograms each day. Manure from 200 chickens can feed four oxen throughout the dry season!
What is so spectacular about poultry manure? Poultry manure is a source of non‑protein nitrogen. It is a benefit only for ruminant animals like cows which have four stomachs.
Chickens can be an excellent source of cattle feed! If you keep chickens, or know someone who does, try using dried chicken manure to keep your cattle healthy and in good condition.
This script was written by Livai Matarirano, the co‑ordinator of the Farm Radio Network East and Southern Africa.
Mr. Madembo is an animal husbandry instructor at Mlezu Institute of Agriculture, P.O. Box 8062, Kwekwe, ZIMBABWE.
Mr. Msipa is a retired stockfeed sales representative. He bought Greenvale Farm, a small farm in Muda Small‑Scale Farming Area.
Dr. Ndlovu is a lecturer and researcher on animal nutrition at the University of Zimbabwe. His address is: The Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mt. Pleasant, Harare, ZIMBABWE.
Dr. Simba Sibanda, a lecturer and researcher on animal nutrition at the University of Zimbabwe also checked this script and answered a few questions. His address is the same as for Dr. Ndlovu.
Beef Production Manual, by D.J. Donkin, Cattle Producers Association of Zimbabwe. P.O. Box 1241, Harare, ZIMBABWE.
Poultry Manure as a Feed for Dairy Cattle, by E.F. Donkin, Agritex Advisory Notes, Number 2/81. Agritex, P.O. Box 8117, Causeway, Harare, ZIMBABWE.
Poultry Manure in Poultry Production, AGRODOK Series, c/o CTA, Postbus 370, 6700 AT Wageningen, The NETHERLANDS.
“Poultry Manure to Consitute Feeds for Dairy Cattle,” Santinig, Vol.6, No.263., newsletter published by Philippine Foundation of Rural Broadcasters, 4th Floor, NIA Building, EDSA 1100 Quezon City, PHILIPPINES.