Livestock Research for Rural Development 17 (2) 2005 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Feed resources of livestock in the Punjab, Pakistan

M Younas and M Yaqoob

Dept of Livestock Management, Faculty of Animal Husbandry, University of Agriculture,
Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan ;


Livestock improvement demands the efficient use of available feed resources. The provision of feeding stuffs of adequate nutritional quality is likely to be the most limiting factor in increasing livestock production in the developing countries.  This paper reviews the extent of feed resources available and their potential in meeting the animal needs and maintaining their health status. It deals with the different aspects of fodder crops, concentrate feeding, range resources, non-conventional feed resources, and nutrient requirements of farm animals. It further delineates the strategies to cope with the future threats confronting the livestock sector.

Key words: Feed resources, health, livestock, nutrients, Punjab


The livestock sector is an integral part of agriculture in Pakistan. Livestock accounts for 37% of the agricultural GDP and about 9% of the total GDP. This is derived from a livestock population of about 25.5 million buffaloes, 23.8 million cattle, 24.7 million sheep, 54.7 million goats, and 5.4 million other animals (Economic Survey 2003-04). Based on the previous census 13.1 million buffaloes, 9.38 million cattle, 6.14 million sheep, 15.3 million goats, and 2.37 million other animals were found in the Punjab province.

The livestock wealth of Punjab is well adapted to hot and humid conditions, tolerant to tropical diseases and good converters of poor quality roughages into milk and meat. Yet despite the high yielding native meat and milk breeding stock, little attempt has been made to select for quality animals. The same applies to the task of maintaining purebred lines or of breeding selectively for qualities adapted to local conditions. Any surviving animal tends to be retained as member of the herd. Although survival is an essential quality, it should not be the only motivation for rearing livestock. Survival of course, is the top priority for the animal itself. The first 70-75 % of the nutrient intake goes to body maintenance. It is only after the nutrients necessary to maintain vital body functions are satisfied that secondary production attributes will be fulfilled. Yet such attributes are the reason why at least in theory animals are raised by humans.

The provision of feeding stuffs of adequate nutritional quality is likely to be the most limiting factor in increasing livestock production, provided there is a market demand for the livestock products. This is not to suggest that aspects such as breed improvements and disease control are un-important. They should be considered concurrently. But in most situations, animal numbers and production will be controlled by feed supply. Breed improvement and health measures will have little effect unless nutritional requirements are met.

Livestock improvement demands the efficient use of available feed resources. Factors like climate, agronomic practices, feed processing technologies and genetic variations ultimately affect the nutritive value of feed for livestock. Feeding resources and feeding systems of farm animals vary from one place to another. Feeding practices are governed by the farmer's land holdings, socio-economic status and marketing of livestock and their products. This paper deals with the extent of the feed resources available and their potential in meeting the animal needs and maintaining their health status in the next decades in the Punjab province.

Feed resources

Feed resources available in the country can be divided into two main categories as Conventional Feed Resources and Non-conventional Feed Resources. Conventional resources are grouped further into three categories: viz; (i) green roughages, (ii) dry roughages and (iii) concentrates (Habib and Siddiqui 1994). Green roughages include fodder crops, range grasses including shrubs and forbs, sugar beet tops, sugarcane tops, silages and tree leaves. Even in advanced countries where grains are fed liberally to the ruminants, forage still contributes about 75 % of the nutrients whereas in the countries where grain feeding in not very common, ruminants derive more than 95 % of their nutritional needs from roughage (Bulla et al 1977). Dry roughages include hay, straws, stovers and hulls. Concentrates include cereal grains, oilseed cakes and meals, cereal brans and polishings, molasses and sugar beet pulp. Non-conventional feed resources have the potential to play a major role in meeting the feed shortage in the years to come.

Fodder crops

The area under fodder production is about 3.35 million hectares out of a total cropped area of 21.85 million ha, in the country, producing more than 60 million tonnes of fodder (Economic Survey 2003-04). The area under fodder in Punjab is 2.03 million ha, with a production of 45 million tonnes of fodder crops with an average yield of 22 tonnes/ha (Table 1), which is not sufficient, even to meet the maintenance requirements of the livestock. According to Bhatti (1995), the increase in milk production has resulted due to greater availability of green fodder in the recent past. This is very much in line with the recommendations of the National Commission on Agriculture (NCA 1988) that suggested that "if all animals in milk receive a full diet which meet their daily appetites without changing the feed mix i.e; maintaining the present low nutrition mix, this alone could increase milk yield by 100 percent."

Table 1. Total area under fodder crops during Rabi and Kharif in the Punjab in previous years


Area, 000 ha

000 tonnes

in tonnes













Anonymous 2004

The cultivated area in Punjab province is 12.43 million ha of the total reported area of 17.5 million hectares.The area under fodder production in the province is approximately 14 % of the cultivated area (Anonymous 2004). This figure is static because of the competition for the grain production to feed the growing population of the country. In fact, some workers have reported that the area for fodder production is decreasing because of the increase in the area under grain and cash crops.

Unless the fodder is taken as an essential crop and given a prime position in the cropping system, it can't boost the productivity of the animals. The Government is spending more than Rs. 769 million on the import of milk and milk products every year (Economic Survey 2003-04). Increasing the domestic production not only will increase per capita availability of milk but it will direct this huge amount of money to other goods and services. The meat prices are also soaring because of the extended prices of the feeds and feeding. By diverting due attention to the aspects of fodder situation, making the pastures green can improve the status of fodder and forage situation in the province.

About 80-90 % of the nutrients requirements of livestock are met from the fodder crops in the irrigated areas. During Rabi (winter fodders) fodders available from October through April include Berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum), Barley (Hordeum vulgare), Lucerne or Alfalfa (Medicago sativa, Mustard/Rape (Brassica spp.), Oats (Avena sativa), Raya (Brassica Juncea) and Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum L.) as a whole plant or tops.

Kharif fodders(summer fodders) are grown from May through September. These include Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), Dwarf elephant grass, Guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), Jantar (Dhaincha), Maize (Zea mays), Millet (Pennisetum typhoides), Moth (Phaseolus aconitifolius), Mung (Vigna radiata), Napier grass, Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), Sudex (Sadabahar), Sugar beet tops (Beta vulgaris) and Swank (Pennisetum glaucum). Table 2 indicates the area, production and yield of some major fodder crops reported in the previous year.

Table 2. The area, production and yield of various fodders crops in Punjab during the year 2002-2003

Fodder Crops

Area, 000 ha

Production, 000 tons

Yield/ha, kgs





Bajra (Millet)




Jowar (Sorghum)








Anonymous 2004

Concentrate feeds

Concentrates are high in energy and/or protein, low in fiber, and highly digestible. They are the expensive part of the animal feed and are used mostly in small quantities as supplements. These feeds include cereals, oil seeds and meals, cereals brans and polishings, molasses and sugar beet pulp. According to Habib and Siddiqui (1994), two local types of concentrates are common.

Range resources

Of the total 80 million ha area of the country, 28 million are under cultivation being 27 % of the total comprising irrigated (70 %) as well as barani (rainfed) (30 %) areas (Economic Survey 2003-04). 49 million are used for grazing  in the country, of which 9.7 million are in Punjab. Pakistan contributes both arid and mountainous rangelands. The area under range as % of total area are: Punjab 40 %, Sind 55 %, NWFP 60 % and Balochistan 79 % (Quraishi et al 1993). Rangelands are areas devoted to livestock production from natural or semi-natural vegetation. This vegetation includes shrub lands, grasslands and forests. The rangelands in Punjab extend from Pothohar ranges in the North to a vast Cholistan desert in the South extending up to Rahim Yar Khan.. Keeping in view the total rangeland areas, these constitute the single biggest land use in the country. They are generally defined in a negative sense as areas being climatically or topographically unsuitable for economic cropping or sown pastures.

Type and nature of the rangelands

Ranges in the province spread over from alpine to temperate and Mediterranean ranges in the western mountains of Suleman Range and arid and semi-arid desert ranges of Cholistan. (Mohammad 1989). Extreme climatic variations are the results of an extreme range in elevation  and summer monsoon rains. Summers are extremely hot while winters are mildly cold to very cold. Rainfall varies from 100 mm in the South to more than 1500 mm in the North. The central and southern plains of the province consist of fertile soils but annual rainfall is low averaging less than 250 mm. Northern snow-covered mountains of the Himalayas, Hindu Kash and Karakorum ranges are the main source of runoff for the mighty Indus river and its tributaries. As a result, water from the Indus and its tributaries is used to develop the largest canal irrigation system of the world.

Though high potential rangelands are well represented in the Northern regions of the province, extensive semi-desert or desert ranges in the province of the Punjab are also available. Most of the deserts in the province are man-made and have resulted from a long history of over grazing, miss-management and vegetation deterioration. As a result of continued un-wise range use, the current trend of retrogression is still progressing (Quraishi et al 1993; Younas 1997). .

Non-conventional feed resources

Non-conventional feed refers to those feeds which are not traditionally used in animal feeding but have the potential to be used as feed. There are many agro-industrial by-products and wastes available in the province, which have not yet found their way in animal feeding, such as by-products of the sugar industry, and cereal industry (straw and pods of soybean, chickpea, peanut, mustard and sunflower heads).. In addition to the above, other crop by-products not currently used by farmers as feed have the potential for incorporation in the diet of ruminants. However, for effective utilization these fibrous feeds need various physical or chemical or biological treatments.

Current situation

The feed supply balance presented earlier for 1986 indicated that the livestock feed pool was deficient by 21 % of total dry matter (DM), by 29 % of energy and by 33 % of crude protein requirements (Qureshi 1992). The present fodder supply is 1/3 less than the actual needs and the area under fodder crops has reduced during the past decade or so without any significant corresponding increase in per ha yield. The present day aim of the animal scientists should be to enhance the productivity of livestock rather than increasing the total number of animals.

The contribution of livestock (which largely depend on natural grazing lands) to the economy is substantial. Keeping in view the livestock numbers and their requirements, range productivity is very poor. It indicates the importance of the livestock industry, which ultimately depends on rangelands as its base. The present feed resources hardly meet the maintenance requirements. According to some workers (Akram 1990) livestock are getting only 75% of the required amount of digestible energy and 40 % of the digestible crude protein. The total nutrient requirements available from the present feed resources are depicted in Table 3 as reported by Crowder (1988) and in Table 4 by Hanjra et al (1995).

Table 3. Feed balance met from different sources


Share, %

Crop residues




Cereal by-products


Oil cakes


Others (waste)


Crowder 1988

Table 4. Nutrient supply from different sources


Share, %

Fodders and Crop residues




Post harvest grazing


Cereal by-products


Oil cakes


Hanjra et al 1995

Nutrient requirements

The productivity of livestock in Punjab, despite their known genetic potential, is low.  This may be attributed to many reasons, of which mal-nutrition is probably the most important. Green fodders are not available in sufficient quantities especially in extreme hot months (June-July) and during cold seasons (December-January) and most of the animals are under-fed. Straws of the cereals and other by-products are commonly used to overcome feed shortages, but don't meet the actual requirements of the animals. The treatment of straws and stovers is also not very common. The concentrates are expensive and cattle feed manufacturing has not taken place to meet these requirements.

Under the prevailing scenario and the problems like growing pressure of the human population, decreasing area under fodder crops, shortage of irrigation water, less and erratic rainfalls, barren rangelands, low priorities to fodder production and preservation, no significant change is envisaged in the years to come. It seems that the shortage of feeds and fodders will be a great challenge to the future livestock industry.


The authors are grateful to Prof Dr Zaheer Ahmad, Ex-Dean, Faculty of Animal Husbandry, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, for his encouragement and review of this paper.


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Received 15 September 2004; Accepted 1 November 2004; Published 1 February 2005

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