The Adventures of Neddy the ParaVet: Fodder Trees Provide Nutritious Livestock Feed all Year

Environment and climate changeLivestock and beekeepingTrees and agroforestry

Notes to broadcasters

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All livestock need a balanced diet or ration that provides water, protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals and vitamins. A proper ration allows animals to grow and reproduce, produce milk and eggs, and do work. Different animals require different feeds. For example, young animals need more protein than older animals, lactating animals need extra minerals and carbohydrates, and ruminants (animals with a multi-compartment stomach) can eat more grass and straw than other animals.

When there is something missing from an animal’s ration, the animal might get sick or become weak, stop growing, produce less milk or fewer eggs, fail to conceive, abort its young, or even die. For example, if an animal does not get enough of the mineral calcium, it might show symptoms such as weakness, lameness, reduced milk production, convulsions and fever, or slower than normal growth.

When producing programs about livestock nutrition, encourage farmers to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the important components of an animal’s ration?
  2. How can I tell if something is missing, or what is missing?
  3. What happens if there is something missing from my animal’s ration?
  4. How can I ensure that my animals have a good diet?

Farmers should find the right feed for their animals. But they should be careful when experimenting with new feeds. Advise them to consult local specialists and other successful farmers.

Farmers should also ensure that their livestock’s diet stays relatively constant throughout the year. This can be difficult to achieve because rations vary from season to season, and sometimes from week to week. Also, it is difficult to produce enough dry feed to save for the off-season with the result that animals get low-quality roughage and very little grain.

The following program encourages farmers to plant ‘fodder trees’ or other fodder crops. Fodder trees, shrubs and other plants can supply nutritious livestock feed all year. Some effective fodder plants are nitrogen-fixing, so they also improve soils. Let farmers know that they don’t need to use their best land for fodder plants; they can plant them in wooded areas, on rocky land, along roadsides or in the terraces of rice paddies. Encourage farmers to work with local crop specialists to identify appropriate species of plants to use for fodder.

This drama can be used in a series with script 7 in this package (‘The adventures of Neddy the Paravet: The value of indigenous veterinary practices’). We suggest that you develop further episodes that discuss livestock health and feature Neddy’s experience as an Animal Health Worker.



Animal Health Worker. Young man, enthusiastic and energetic.
Uncle Chekwa:
Farmer. Neddy’s uncle.

: I’m Nedd and I’m a farmer. But I’m also an Animal Health Worker. I was chosen by the other people in my village to take a training course about livestock health. I learned about the most common animal diseases in our villages, and how to treat them. I carry medicines, and I can also deliver vaccinations. When my Uncle Chekwa learned that I was an Animal Health Worker, he was very proud. After that, any time that one of his neighbours had a sick animal, he would say: “Just call my nephew Neddy! He is an Animal Health Worker. And he’s very smart!”

One day Uncle Chekwa called me over to his home to talk about his goats. His goats, and many other goats in the village, were sickly. My uncle knows a lot about livestock, and he was quite sure that he knew what the problem was. He believed they weren’t getting enough nutritious feed. So I asked him what he was feeding the goats. Here’s what my uncle said to me, and the conversation that followed:

Uncle Chekwa:
Well Neddy, you’re asking me what I feed my goats. I feed my goats grain when I can, but the grain supply doesn’t last for much time. When it is finished, the goats eat dry grass, straw, and tree branches with leaves for the rest of the year. In fact, it is often at this time that I notice the animals get sick.

You know, animals are like people: they like to eat a variety of food, not just one kind at a time until it is gone. You need to give them some high quality feed all year.

Uncle Chekwa
: That sounds good, but I don’t think I can grow enough grain to last all year.

Maybe not. But I have another suggestion. You can grow fodder crops. Fodder crops are trees and shrubs with nutritious leaves for goats and cows.

Uncle Chekwa
: But I can’t afford to use any more land to grow livestock feed! I need my land to grow food crops!

You don’t have to use your best land. You can plant fodder crops on rocky land, in wooded areas, and along the roadside. Even in poor soils. Several good fodder trees grow right here in this village.

Uncle Chekwa:
You know, I already have some trees here. Can I use the leaves from those trees?

Some trees provide better fodder than others. If you want to improve the quality of the feed, you should find out what trees make good fodder, and plant those.


: If you want nutritious feed for your livestock all year, try growing fodder trees. A local crop specialist can help you select and plant the best trees for fodder. You will also have to learn how to mix the fodder with other livestock feed. With careful planning fodder crops can provide good feed for many years.


Contributed by Simon Neufeld, Researcher/Writer, Toronto, Canada.

Reviewed by Terry S. Wollen, DVM, Coordinator of Animal Health, Heifer International. Field Address: Heifer Nepal, Arun Tole, Satdobato, Lalitpur 15 Nepal.