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What is the reason behind malnutrition in cattle in India? 

Malnutrition occurs when the fodder fails to provide sufficient energy and protein to fulfil the needs for development and maintaining body weight.
10:35 AM Apr 30, 2023 IST | pragyaanant
what is the reason behind malnutrition in cattle in india  

Nowadays, livestock farmers encounter obstacles due to the declining land areas for agriculture. The further problem is that most farmers need to learn about the dietary needs of their cattle. Farmers often only feed livestock enough to make them feel full without considering the feed’s nutritional content or the species’ particular digestive needs. Napier grass is the primary livestock feed for rural farmers with sufficient rainfall.  

Malnutrition deficiencies

According to the 20th Livestock Census, 30 million buffaloes and 18.8 million cattle are in Uttar Pradesh. The livestock doesn’t have good health. According to a 2022 study by the State Planning Commission’s Task Force on Animal Husbandry, cattle are reportedly very underdeveloped and primarily unproductive. At present, only a few productive breeds exist.  According to the same research, most of the state’s large and small animals exhibit signs of starvation. Most animals have deficiencies in proteins, minerals, vitamins, hormones, trace elements, and proteins. This affects their development rate, productivity, and reproduction.


Smallholder livestock household in Berhampore Village, West Bengal, India |
Smallholder livestock household in Berhampore Village, West Bengal, India | Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition and cattle deaths

Farmers are concerned about neonatal calf mortality because of the significant financial losses in dairy production. Due to its significant morbidity and mortality, diarrhoea has been identified as a fundamental animal problem in recent decades. It is currently one of the top six infectious disease-related causes of death. An approximate estimate states that 20% calf mortality can lower net profit by 38%. Septicemia, pneumonia, and gastroenteritis are the leading causes of calf mortality. Among these, gastrointestinal diseases account for up to 60% of all calf deaths.

Fodder deficit

The availability of feed and fodder is still a significant cause for concern. There is a discrepancy between demand and supply throughout the nation. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research estimates that during 2015, there was a 21%, 26%, and 34% deficit between the amount of dry fodder, green fodder, and concentrates needed and available. By 2025, these will rise to 23%, 40%, and 38%, respectively.


In 2015, India had a fodder shortfall of 26 million tonnes (MT), 21 million tonnes (MT), and 34 million tonnes (MT) in terms of green fodder, dry fodder, and concentrates. By 2025, these deficits are predicted to increase to 40 MT, 21 MT, and 38 MT, respectively.


Malnutrition and cattle deaths
Photo: Flickr

The lack of fodder results from inadequate attention being paid to producing fodder crops and increased pressure on land for growing food grains, oilseeds, and pulses, according to a parliamentary panel study from 2016. Farmers may benefit from promoting the growth of many types of green fodder, including napier, marvel grass, moringa, maize, bajra, jowar, cowpeas, velvet beans, thorn-less cactus, oats, berseem, ryegrass, and Chinese cabbage. 


Importance of calves nutrition

Any dairy farm’s success depends on the proper handling of newborn calves. Early nutrition is essential for promoting rapid development and maturation. The calves should be raised carefully to ensure they gain weight as quickly as possible. Furthermore, they reach roughly 70–75% of their adult body weight by the time they reach puberty. Poor feeding practices result in younger age at first calving and total life span productivity loss. 


Malnutrition and cattle deaths
A skinny cow in India | Photo: Flickr


Malnutrition occurs when the fodder fails to provide sufficient energy and protein to fulfil the needs for development and maintaining body weight. In some cases, the diet may be acceptable but different circumstances may reduce appetite, interfere with digestion and absorption, or increase metabolism and feed conditions.

The symptoms of malnourishment can be seen as weight loss, specifically in young animals with pale mucous membranes demonstrating anemia and bottle jaw shown in undernourished cattle. The prevention of malnutrition requires sufficient energy and protein and will assist in resolving any underlying health issues in cattle.

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