Animals require a balanced diet. Their feed should have the right proportion of different nutrients — energy, proteins, vitamins and minerals — to maintain their body condition, milk production, and reproduction. Young animals need sufficient nutrients for growth and weight gain. Dairy cows require nutrients to produce milk, especially during the first 3 to 4 months after calving, when milk production is highest. Feeding an animal with any fodder is not enough to ensure its good health and milk production.

 Green Fodder is the Main Part in Diet

The most important nutrient source for animals is roughage which is a combination of all types of fodders like green fodder, dry fodder and silage. But, does roughage of good quality provide all nutrients that dairy cows need? Good quality roughages have following properties:

  1. Green and young – These must be fed or cut and preserved while they are still young (before flowering). Green and young fodders are rich in nutritive values and good in palatability and digestibility.
  2. Dry and old These are the crop residues that have lost their green colour and may just help animals to survive, since they are very poor in energy, protein and minerals and cannot sustain good milk production. High quality feed must always be supplemented with feeds that provide missing nutrients in a concentrated way.

 Energy Source

Forage crops are good source of energy only if they are fed at a young stage. The most popular fodder crops include SSG (JUMBO, CSH-24-MF), Multi-cut pearl millet (Nutrifeed), Maize (African tall, PAC-745/PAC-751), Rye Grass (Makkhan Grass). Stripped green leaves are very rich in energy. Energy concentrates should be fed in small amounts. They can be obtained from all cereal grains, wheat germ, or molasses.

 Protein Sources

Ruminants require protein to help micro-organisms in the rumen (stomach) to break down the roughage into nutrients that the animals can use.

Rule 1: Young green plants have higher protein content than older ones. Young fodder leaves and sorghum/corn stalks are especially rich in protein.

Rule 2: Legumes have higher protein content than non-leguminous grasses such as green residues of all grams, groundnut, berseem, lucerne and clovers. All legumes should not be fed at rates higher than 30 per cent of the total ration so as to avoid health problems. Other concentrated protein sources are oil cakes of cotton seed, sunflower, soybean and groundnut.

 Mineral Sources

Leguminous fodders are a good source of calcium and other minerals. However animals need additional minerals as supplements that are available from fodders. These should be available at all times as mineral lick blocks. Growing animals, especially pregnant and lactating cows, need high amount of minerals like calcium and phosphorous.

 Concentrates? Yes, but Limited Quantity

Dairy meal or concentrates contain nutrients in high concentration. These should always be given in small quantities of not more than 2 kg at a time, mixed with roughages.



The success of any system, existing or proposed, may be evaluated against the following four criteria in a strict order of precedence:

  • Safe use of resources: Land, water, fertility and power
  • Meeting the animals’ requirements at all times, even when food production falls too low either on a seasonal cycle or due to unpredictable causes
  • Margin over all feed costs: Ration balancing — roughages and concentrates
  • The system’s practicality and manageability: Good practices for smooth and profitable farming

Assured Forage Supplies

Forage crops should be planned according to the season and requirement of the animals. In India, the cropping pattern will be like three seasons — Spring (pre-summer), Kharif (rainy), Rabi (winter).

Requirement of green fodder can be planned with the available best fodder crops with multi-cut character.

Crop/Month January February March April May June July August September October November


Cereals/ Nutrifeed


Sowing Sowing




Harvest Harvest Harvest Harvest Harvest Harvest Harvest

Grasses/ Legumes

Harvest Harvest Harvest             Sowing Sowing



This planning will give 365 days’ green fodder. But the sowings will be in only 5 months. This is the best sowing method which can help the dairy farmer in reducing feeding expenses and improving milk production with good health conditions of the herd. Cereals and legumes can be a balanced ration for the dairy farm. Managing commercial dairy farms with only green fodders is very difficult so usually all of them can go for fodder bank concept which can assure the required quantity of quality fodder thought the year.

Fodder Bank

Adequate forages must be produced, stored, or bought to feed all animals present on the farm at any given time. As a first step, enough fodder must be available over an average year to meet the annual total dry matter requirement plus the average input to the fodder bank. Fodder banks at the farm site can stock fodder by making silage, hay and fodder blocks.



Silage should be made with new generation silage crops like Sugargraze/PAC-746/PAC-751 and with fodders that are highly digestible, nutritive, delicious, economical and have long healthy life. It should provide balanced nutrition round the year and increase milk yield and fat percentage.

How to Make Silage

  1. Selection of the silage hybrid:
  • Hybrid should be high yielding in green fodder
  • Hybrid should be good in disease tolerance and rich in carbohydrates and sugars
  • Corn hybrid should be 40% grain ratio — PAC-746 (Spring) and PAC-751 (Kharif)

Sugar should be with 16% and 18% brix — Sugargraze.


Sowing time Duration for Cut

Seed rate


Kharif 100-110 days 10 kg/acre


90-105 days

10 kg/acre


Summer/Kharif 75 to 90 days

6 kg/acre


  1. Construction of Silage Pit/Bunkers:
  • Silage can be prepared in bunkers, pits or piles but bunkers are better than other methods for getting high quality silage.
  • While constructing the bunkers, following aspects should be keep in mind:

» Selection of suitable site

» Number of animals

» Bunker size

» Availability of crop for silage

Bunker Design (Bunker length, width and height can be designed as per requirement)


Area (acres)

Production (tonnes) Length (feet) Width (feet)

Height (feet)


40 – 50 25 15 6


150 – 170 50 15 6
10 250 – 280 85 25


15 380 – 450 100 25



3. Right time for crop harvesting:

Sugargraze and PAC-746/PAC-751 corn harvesting crop at proper moisture and maturity is critical for elimination of oxygen in the silage mass. Provide sufficient water soluble carbohydrates (sugars) to drive the fermentation process to completion. For silage, Sugargraze/PAC-746/PAC-751 should be at 65% to 70% moisture. PAC-746/PAC-751 silage corn grain should typically be at half milk line and whole plant moisture at 64%. Kernel processing is advised on corn silage because:

  •  It improves starch availability.
  •  It improve digestibility of silage.
  •  It improves the quality of fermentation.
  •  It may improve pack density.

Chop Length: While chopping the crop it should be 2.0 to 2.5 cms length. Short chopped silage may be harder to feed at high inclusion levels in a ration because physically effected fibre is critical for rumen health. Longer chopper silage will be harder to pack.

  1. Compaction and sealing:

Packing is one of the most critical elements of making quality silage. Poorly packed silage will have extended plant cell respiration resulting in an increased loss of digestible nutrients.

  • Keep slope at approximately 25 to 30 degrees.
  • Pack in thin layers < 6”.
  • Ideal pack density is > 20kg/ft3.
  1. Silage feeding:

Silage will be ready to feed after 30-40 days. Good silage is brownish in colour and gives vinegar like smell. Some of the important points to be taken care while silage feeding:

  • Always open silage bunker from front face.
  • Silage should be removed from bunker face by shaving the silage from top to bottom.
  • Extract a minimum 6 inches across the entire face daily and keep the face clean.
  • Remove and dispose of visible mouldy crust from bunker surface when pulling back cover.
  • Don’t allow loose silage to lie in front of the bunker until next feeding.
  • Don’t remove silage and store on feed pad for later feeding.
  • Uncover silage only at the time of feeding and never keep it uncovered.



Makkhan Grass hay is a valuable source of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is a popular choice for animal feeding worldwide. It facilitates the digestive process and improves absorption of vitamins and minerals. Makkhan Grass hay is green, leafy, nutritious and easy for young calves and smaller animals to chew and digest. It hay has more than twice as much protein and up to three times as calcium than plain hay. It helps the cows to regain weight after calving and to produce maximum quality milk. Makkhan Grass hay contains high levels of Vitamin A, which is the most common deficiency that affects cattle.

The following method of making Makkhan Grass hay is generally used in small scale operations:

  • Grass is harvested/swathed at boot stage (for optimum quality).
  • Grass is harvested when good sunny weather is expected for next 4-5 days.
  • Grass is cut early in the morning so that it has opportunity to rapidly loose moisture on the first day.
  • The grass should be laid in wide swath to promote rapid drying otherwise it will cause spoilage and loss of nutrients.
  • After 2-3 days, the grass should be tedded (turned) so all portions can be dried well.
  • The grass should be dried down to 15 per cent moisture.
  • This grass can be baled (in blocks) or put in tight bundles to prevent loss of leaves.