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Water Hyacinth: Source Of Food For Cattle

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By Jolly Kabirizi       

Poor-quality feed and fluctuating feed supplies are the biggest constraints to increasing cattle productivity in Uganda. 

To improve this situation, there is a need to look at ways for extending the availability and quality of the available feed resources. 

Water hyacinth foliage is rich in protein and minerals; thus, the farmer can consider using the plant as a rumen supplement to complement crop residues such as rice straw or pasture grass hay which are deficient in such nutrients. 

For this purpose, it needs to supply readily fermentable nitrogen and minerals as well as the “unknown” factors often associated with green feeds. 

However, even when the needs of rumen micro-organisms are met, basal diets such as pasture grass hay must also be supplemented with sources of protein and energy to meet the requirements for production. 

In this respect, leguminous forages have proved to be a valuable protein supplement in diets. 

Water hyacinth foliage should never be fed as the sole diet of ruminants but may be fed at up to 25% of the diet dry matter along with protein-rich supplements. 

Mature water hyacinth plants are chopped, wilted under sunshine for about six hours and mixed with chopped Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) hay to improve the feeding value of grass hay. 

The material is soaked in molasses and mixed with brewery yeast spent solution (ratio 1 part molasses and 2 parts brewery yeast solution).

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