Focussing Sustainable Livestock Development in Kashmir
In Jammu and Kashmir the cattle population is more than 3 million and the State produces around 64 lakh MT of green fodder and 35 lakh MT of dry fodder. Despite availability of natural pastures the State is 67% deficit in green fodder and 27.31% in dry fodder. The per capita availability of milk is 378 gm as compared to 937 gms in Punjab. To mitigate the fodder deficit there is need to divert policy towards development of breed having high milk yielding capacity and less body weight so that the fodder requirement can be minimized. The Jersey breed is most suitable for Kashmir valley having high milk yielding capacity and less body weight. Whereas, Holstein Friesian (HF) is a giant breed, needs more fodder requirement to rear. Milk specific gravity of HF is less as compared with Jersey having 3.5 vs 5.5 fat %. Keeping in above facts Mountain Livestock Research Institute, Manasbal has adopted a practice to produce elite Jersey germplasm having lactation yield of 5500-6000 lt by using USA Jersey frozen semen with sire dam’s yield 8500-9000 kg. Additionally, Livestock Development Board Kashmir has initiated to procure the Jersey bull from MLRI Manasbal in order to supply frozen semen to different AI centers to Kashmir region.
In Kashmir region the farmers are providing mainly unchaffed paddy straw/oat hay during winter without Urea-molasses fortification. Due to provision of unchaffed hay/straw to livestock, 20-30% wastage are mixed with faeces and they are not decomposed with farm yard manure and by using them in agricultural field the fertility of soil is not reached upto the satisfactory level. Dairy farmers should establish vermicompost unit with their Dairy farming to make these fully decompose. Vermicomposting is emerging as profitable business and without this section, Dairy farming along can not be flourished. In chaffed straw the palatability and digestibility is higher as compared with unchaffed straw. The digestible crude protein in paddy straw is zero so it needs scientific fortification with Urea-molasses to enhance nutritive value. The farmers are not aware how to prepare compound mash feed at their own level, they are only providing wheat bran and rice bran to their cattle/sheep without mixing of other ingredients in a balanced proportionate like mustard oil cake/ground nut cake, maize, De oiled rice bran, molasses, mineral mixture, iodized salt, yeast etc., as a result the productivity of these animals are not reaching as per their genetic potential. Most of the Dairy farmers in valley are not providing the maintenance ration to their cattle from April-September except grazing, even in case of lactating cattle. This traditional practice need to be shifted towards scientific feeding. In Kashmir region farmers only depend on hay for winter feeding without any awareness about silage. Rabi hay production needs sunny weather but in April months always there is disturbance of rains. In silage, the green fodder is preserved anerobically by adding minimum 0.5-1% iodized salt and it does not require any extra precautionary measures. All the developed countries in World have adopted scientific silage feeding because of high nutritive value as compared with hay.
The farmers are cultivating oat as a Rabi fodder crop for hay making. Oat is mainly energy source fodder and it has limitation to enhance productivity. There is need to adopt grass (carbohydrate)-legume (protein) Rabi crops association like oats+Vetch combination to enhance productivity. Farmers have not adopted multicut legume Rabi crop like berseem and multicut Kharif crop like Bajra. Most farmers in valley have not adopted scientific perennial energy and legume combination fodder cultivation in their fruit garden as a result livestock are not getting quality fodder. There is ample scope for development of Horti-pastoral (Fruit + Fodder crops) systems in Kashmir valley by adopting high biomass perennial legumes like Red clover and Alfalfa in association with perennial high biomass energy sources like Tall fescue and Orchard grasses. The sorghum (M.P. Chari variety) in combination with cowpea fodder cultivation have been neglected but these energy and legume combination are most suitable for valley. Further, sorghum is more draught resistant crop as compared with maize fodder and it remains green upto ending October.
To mitigate the demand of mutton consumption on daily basis about 3000-3500 sheep are being procured mainly from Rajasthan due to deficit of 73.20% mutton production in valley. For sustainable mutton production there is need to disseminate the ovine Booroola fecundity gene in Kashmiri sheep for twin (double) lambing to increase the sheep population vertically, otherwise the demand for mutton will never be fulfilled. Australia imported the Garole sheep (ovine Booroola fecundity gene carrier) during 18th Century from South 24 Parganas, West Bengal and since then the twine lambing has been maintaining in Australian sheep scientifically without deviation from wool quality and mutton production.
On daily basis valley is procuring about 1.5-2 lakhs broiler from Punjab, Haryana and other nearer states to mitigate the demand of chicken consumption and the business market is mainly captured by Punjab and Haryana based enterprises. In Kashmir very limited systematic broiler farms are available where the parent broiler stock is maintained. The small scale farmers are procuring day old chicks mainly from out side of valley for rearing. Broiler industry has tremendous future for employment generation if Government Organization at sub-divisional levels should take responsibility to maintain parent broiler stock with hatching facilities and shall initiate the distribution of day old chicks among unemployed youth to start broiler farming. The European countries, USA and Canada are facing more sub-normal temperature during winter season than Kashmir valley even then they are masters in dairy sectors, sheep farming and broiler industries. In Kashmir valley during winter seasons all these sectors are in paralysis mode and running on loss. The matter should be resolved by fulfilling all lacunas through concrete steps on priority basis. The state of Jammu and Kashmir brings mutton, milk and poultry worth Rs 16000 crores annually from different states. In one hand valley is earning money by exporting fruits to other states but at the same time all the money earned is being spent to procure sheep and chicken from outside states. To mitigate the demand of mutton and chicken the sheep and broiler are procured mainly from other states covering a distance of 500-1000 km. Due to transportation stress there is accumulation of toxic metabolites and cytokines in their body. When these animals are slaughtered without any rest period there is every possibility of human health hazards like depression, anxiety, blood pressure, gout, cancerous diseases etc.
In Kashmir valley there are only few small scale milk processing plants are producing pasteurized milk and curd to nourish the local population which is insufficient. Dairy processing plant has tremendous future for employment generation. There is need of Mega dairy processing plant at Divisional level that can encourage the farmers to rear more high producing dairy cows because of better marketing of fluid milk disposal. Gradually, the dairy sector in valley will become organized and once a time like Amul in Gujarat, the Kashmiri Dairy products including milk powder shall flourish and will capture the market outside of the state.
In valley about 2.5-3 lakh broiler and about 8000 small and large ruminants are slaughtered on daily basis and the huge quantities of wastes and by-products are generated. These are causing environmental pollution and health hazards, attract flies and harbours multifarious microbes of pathogenic nature. These by-products can act as a source of energy, livestock feed, fertilizer, liming components for soil collagen, gelatine and calcium. After suitable processing, poultry by-products can be converted into feather meal, hydrolized feather meal and poultry by-product meal. The leather industries in valley has not developed even though on daily basis huge numbers of hides are collected and these raw hides mixing with salt are transported to different tanneries and leather factories out side of state for making different products like jacket, shoes, wallets, purses, belts etc. and the valley is loosing income generation in this sector.
What can be done is frank admission of our failure to focus on the basics, and unfortunate tendency to hide inconvenient facts. The practical real data in the grass root level should not be hided or fabricated to satisfy the superiors or State Ministers. The Directors/ Deans/ concerned Head of the Departments of SKUAST-Kashmir need to divert more of their research work towards applied side. There is need of more coordination between scientists and the developmental Departments. A will to make the difference can help move us towards self reliance in livestock sector and create thousands of jobs in the process while saving billions annually to State exchequer. The myth is J & K has to keep begging and the reality is it needn’t and if we plug leaks and gear up, it will not.
Author is Senior Scientist (PB-IV) Incharge Mountain Livestock Research Institute, SKUAST-Kashmir