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Livestock Rations

Farm animals need certain quantities of feed to sustain them daily or bring about the yield of some products. The quantity of feed served to the animal should be able to meet its nutritional requirements as determined by the purpose it is kept for. The total quantity of feed provided each day to the livestock is called ration. The ration is served to keep the animal at the level of maintenance of body weight or production within a
period of time.

Types and uses of rations
Ration is grouped into maintenance and production since it is generally provided to serve these purposes.

(a)   Maintenance ration: This is the amount of feed needed to prevent increase or decrease in live-weight of the animal. Growers mash for instance, is given for sustenance or maintenance of constant growth in animals. It supplies energy for metabolic activities such as respiration, blood circulation, digestion, locomotion, body temperature and repairs of worn out tissues.

(b)   Production ration: Production ration is supplied in excess of maintenance
requirements. The quantity and of course quality is a little higher than maintenance ration. It keeps the animal ready for high production of meat, milk, egg, hides and skin, young animals, etc. It can also be used for ‘flushing’ (feeding and preparing the animal for mating) and ‘steaming up’ (feeding and preparing the animal for parturition). Layers mash for instance, is given to boost egg production.

Balanced ration
This refers to a ration, which has its ingredients most proportionately mixed as to supply to the body in adequate quantities, the necessary food requirements. This means that our mixed ration must contain a certain amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate in the right proportion, whilst vitamins and minerals must not be lacking.

Unless the ration is made up of the nutrients in the right proportion, satisfactory growth or production will not be attained. The feed supplied must be appetising, digestible and able to be absorbed by the body tissues and should be fed to the animal at the right time. The stockman might in layers, daily ration for instance, choose the following combinations of feeding stuff in formulating his balanced ration:

(a)  62% of maize
(b)  5% of palm kernel cake
(c)  18% of groundnut cake
(d)  5% of fish meal
(e)  0.45% of digestive crude protein (DCP)
(f)  8.05% of bone meal

Malnutrition
Satisfactory growth and production depends on having the appropriate amount of all the classes of food in the ration. A wrong proportion of carbohydrate, protein, fats and oil, minerals, vitamins and water results in the condition of malnutrition or poor feeding. Where any of these nutrients is not adequately supplied, the nutrient in want is said to be deficient. The provision of feed without all the essential nutrients is termed malnutrition. It is indicated by specific symptoms such as slow growth rate, low production, susceptibilityto disease and high mortality rate.

It is worthy to mention at this point too that excessive provision of carbohydrate in a ration of a young growing pig causes a pot-like belly. Generally, too much of carbohydrate leads to mental imbalance and low resistance to disease. Though too much of protein in a ration produces a healthy, fast growing animal,’its life-span is very short.

Summary

1.  To increase yield and minimise losses, a good stockman should be able to provide adequate feed and feeding materials daily; suitable equipment and good housing; encourage good health and hygiene; occasionally adopt modern breeding methods; weaning and keeping of accurate records.

2.  Diseases are commonly prevented through the maintenance of a high hygienic condition of pens, feeding and drinking equipment and regular removal of waste products and isolation of sick animals.

3.  Nutrition is the scientific composition of feeds and the feeding of livestock from day to day.

4.  The food compounded for livestock is called feeds.

5.  Feeds consist of various types of food sources called feeding stuffs.

6.  Nutrients are chemical or essential body requirements supplied by feeding stuffs.

7.  The various feed nutrients -carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins and water contained in a balanced ration perform different functions in the body.

8.  Ration is served to keep animals at the level of maintenance or production of meat, milk, egg, hides and skin, etc., within a period of time.
9.  Straws, grains, tubers, cakes, meats and oils may be used in the formulation of animal feeds.

10. Malnutrition is indicated by specific symptoms such as slow growth rate, low productivity, low resistance to disease and high mortality rate.

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