How farmers can increase food production…

Livestock in Nigeria plays a big role in the livelihood of farmers and nutritional needs of the country.   Livestock also contributes to farming in many other ways.  Animals are used as draught power to pull plows or help weed farmland, and cow dung is an excellent fertilizer.

With so much at stake, farmers could benefit from simple, yet highly efficient ways to increase the health and productivity of their livestock.  These factors are often compromised when animals roam free in open pasture, exposed to disease vectors and left to feed on unwholesome grasses and plants.

One technique that can be very effective in maintaining healthy productive animals is a zero-grazing system.

In zero-grazing, livestock is kept in stalls all the time, and feed and water are brought to the animals. Zero-grazing keeps animals healthier. It can ward off diseases such as sleeping sickness caused by tsetse flies and tick bone diseases, which are so prevalent throughout Nigeria.  Zero-grazing also helps farmers increase productivity either from their current livestock or from the purchase of higher-yielding breeds of livestock which would not be able to thrive in an open pasture.

Zero-grazing has side benefits as well.  The increased efficiency of this management practice means more weight or milk can be produced per unit of feed eaten. Zero-grazing uses less land to produce more nutritious fodder plants, which allows the farmer to maximise the use of available land. Processes such as milking are easier to perform when the animals are kept corralled and calm.  Manure can be collected from the enclosure and used as fertiliser for growing crops.  Diseases are minimised because troublesome insects, such as biting and nuisance flies, are easier to control.

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