Ration is the allowance of feed given to an animal for a period of 24 hours, while a balanced ration is a ration which supplies all the essential nutrients to the animal in required proportion, form and quantity for 24 hours.
A balanced ration should provide essential nutrients such as protein, energy, minerals and vitamins from dry fodders, green fodders, concentrates and mineral supplements, in appropriate quantities to enable animals to perform optimally and remain healthy. For instance, proper amount and proportions of nutrients will improve your dairy cows’ general performance in terms of growth, maintenance, lactation or gestation.
Imbalanced feeding results to:
- Poor growth and reproduction
- Milk production that is lower compared to the animal’s genetic potential
- Shorter lactation length and longer calving intervals
- Animals are more prone to metabolic disorders such as milk fever and ketosis
- Slow growth in young animals and delayed age at first calving
- Shorter productive life
- Excessive amounts of pollutants released into the environment
- Lower profit for farmers
How to formulate the right rations;
A systematic approach will help in ration balancing. First, determine the nutrient requirements of the animal being fed. This means determining the sex, size and production level of the animal.
The next step is to determine the feeds available for use. List their composition on a dry matter basis from a composition table or a chemical analysis. Now the amounts of the feeds necessary to balance the ration can be determined.
Desirable characteristics of a good ration
- Ration should be properly balanced with all necessary nutrients.
- Ration should include variety of feed stuffs so as to provide better nutrient composition to the body.
- Ration should include sufficient green fodders preferably legumes.
- Ration should include palatable and digestible feed stuffs so as to ensure optimum feed intake and maximum nutrient availability as they may reduce the nutrient availability leading to health disorders.
- Ration should satisfy the total dry matter requirement of an animal based on weight.
- Ration should be fairly bulky as it is required for satisfaction of hunger and expulsion of undigested material due to its laxative action
- Ration should be fresh and free from undesirable weeds and dust.
- Ration should be properly processed to ensure its desirable intake.
- Ration should be economical as feed accounts to about 60 – 70% cost of animal rearing.
Types of rations based on purpose;
- Maintenance Ration
This is the minimum allowance of ration given to an animal for carrying out its essential body processes at optimum rate without gain or loss in body weight.
It is usually given to dry non-producing animals. It roughly satisfies the nutrient requirement for maintenance.
- Gestation or Pregnancy Ration
This is the allowance of ration given to a pregnant animal in addition to maintenance ration during the last quarter of pregnancy.
It is given to satisfy nutrient requirement of pregnant animals, for optimum foetal growth. It also helps in proper development of udder for future lactation.
- Production Ration
This is the additional allowance of ration given to an animal over and above the maintenance ration for the purpose of production like milk, meat, wool and work.
It is given to meet the nutrient losses through milk. It helps to maintain milk production to optimum level.
To find out the Nutritional Requirements for Your Livestock, click Here