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UMMB Technology: A boon for dairy farmers

Manoj Sharma
Deputy Director ( Training) Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kapurthala Introduction:
The lower average productivity of milch animals is mainly due to low genetic potential for milk production, poor nutrition and poor management and care of the animals. Dairy animals are fed on poor quality crop residues, which are not only deficient in nitrogen, minerals and vitamins, but also have poor digestibi lity due to presence of lignin in them. Hence, proper feeding of the animals is essential for improving their production potential. Most of the small -scale dairy farmers¶ animals survive on crop residues namely rice straw, wheat straw, maize stalks and nat ural herbage like grass, tree leaves etc. Such feeding practice does not provide adequate nutrients to the animals for improving their growth and exploiting their full production potential. In general, low quality crop residues are deficient in fermentable nitrogen, carbohydrates and important minerals. Thus, prevailing practices of keeping dairy animals solely on wheat straw and a small amount of poor grade concentrate is not satisfactory. Use of urea as a non-conventional source of non-protein nitrogen for ruminal micro-organisms is well known. In India, urea has been fed to cows and buffaloes in the form of uromol (Chopra et al., 1974), urea molasses liquid supplement (Kaur, 1993) and urea -treated straw (Bakshi, Gupta and Langer, 1986). However, the labour and other costs involved in the preservation, transport and feeding of the end product made some of these methods unpopular and precluded their wider adoption by farmers. Urea-molasses mineral blocks (UMMB) are relatively free from these constraints and provide nitrogen over a longer period of time than any other urea source. For supplementing the poor diet such as wheat straw / paddy straw or any other crop residue-based diet of large and small ruminants, the use of urea ± molasses mineral block (UMMB) licks has been recommended by many livestock

researchers. The main aim is to improve the nutritive value of the traditional straw based diet, which promotes healthy growth and milk productivity of dairy animals.

Urea molasses mineral block technology
For efficient digestion of crop residues in the rumen, it is essential that a certain concentration of ammonia -nitrogen be maintained in the rumen. This level is difficult to achieve on a crop residues -based basal diet. In this regard, the technological innovatio n of the UMMB has been an important breakthrough for enhancing the productivity and nutrition of dairy animals. The UMMB is essentially a feed supplement that provides soluble nitrogen, fermentable energy and minerals to micro-organisms in the rumen. It co nsists of urea, molasses, some proteins, minerals and gelling agents. The major advantage of using UMMB is improvement in the digestive efficiency of ruminants, which brings many direct and indirect benefits as under:

improvement in the utilization of dry fodder and low wastage of fodder by the animals improvement in milk production and milk fat content, better physical growth, improvement in reproductive efficiency etc., improvement in the utilization of dry fodder and low wastage of fodder by the animals,

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UMMB production technology
UMMB block consist of Urea, Molasses, wheat flour, mineral mixture, deoiled mustard cake, deoiled rice polish, salt. To develop three (3) kg block add required feed materials in given quantities (Table 1). Mix this material thoroughly. Add Guar gum as binding agent. Add CaO at last, it will generate heat and make the mixture into gel like form. Take this material immediately out of container and put into square structures and compress it. Care should be taken while putting gel like material into required structures so that it should not loss its heat otherwise block will lose its shine and smoothness. After four to five hours block will be ready to use.

Table 1 : Material required along with their quantity for developing UMMB lick Material Quantity

Urea Molasses Wheat flour Mineral Mixture Deoiled mustard cake Deoiled rice polish Salt CaO

300g 900g 450g 450g 300g 300g 125g 175g

Advantages of technology
1. Ingredients used for preparing UMMB are easily available. 2. Method of preparation is very easy and UMMB prepared by this method has long shelf life on storage at a dry place. 3. Density of UMMB is much higher than the ingredients, which facilitates long distance transportation, at a cheaper rate. 4. UMMB blocks are suitable for supplementing dry fodder based diets for sustainability of ruminants during fodder scarcity periods. 5. Licks are hard enough to control gradual intake . 6. UMMB is much cheaper than the conventional source of proteins

Method of use
Some important guidelines towards the optimum utilisation of urea -molasses mineral blocks as supplements for forage based diet are described below. Urea molasses blocks should not be fed alone but only as a supplement. Th ey require a minimum amount of roughage to ensure that the animals are not over fed and thereby avoid urea poisoning.

Species of livestock
Because the blocks contain urea they must only be fed to ruminants (buffalo, cattle, goats and sheep) and never to monogastric species (chicken, donkeys,

horses, pigs, rabbits) or to young, especially pre -ruminant calves, kid goats and lambs.

Feeding period
The aim of the block is to improve the utilisation of low quality roughages, especially during and at the end of the dry season, when livestock are often dependent on crop residues or low quality dry season grazing, which are both low in crude protein and high in fibre. Therefore, the production and distribution of blocks should be limited to these critical periods. There is no advantage in offering blocks when green forage is available, as during the wet and early dry seasons. To avoid wasting resources they should not be made available at these times.

Minimum roughage requirements
Urea-molasses blocks are only supplements. Therefore, they should not be fed alone. A minimum quantity of roughage is needed to ensure that the animals do not consume too much urea, possibly leading to urea poisoning. One should remember that the purpose of the block is to improve the utilisation of roughage and not to substitute it.

Adaptation of animals
The full daily ration of the block (e.g. 700 g/day per adult cow) should not be offered as soon as the feeding period starts but should be built up to over a period of at least 7-10 days. This is particularly important when animals have suffered a degree of underfeeding as intake can be more rapid than usual. Animals not used to urea and also eating rapidly are the most likely to suffer from urea poisoning. After the adaptation perio d animals will adjust their intakes to around those recommended earlier (cattle, 700 g/day: small ruminants, 100 g/day). An easy way to restrict intake during the adaptation period is to limit the amount of time the blocks are accessible to an animal. A rule of thumb would be to offer them for one hour per day (or about 200 g for cattle and 30 g for small ruminants) during the first 3 -4 days, followed by three hours per day (or about 400 g for cattle and 60 g for small ruminants) during the next 4-6 days. Thereafter, blocks can be offered ad libitum.

UMMB supplementation is an effective method of correcting nutrient deficits in poor quality roughages. It s use as a supplement improves productivity of local and

crossbred cows reared on straw-based diets. High-cost concentrates can be replaced by UMMB licks. It has been shown that milk production could be sustained by providing UMMB without any concentrate up to 5 kg of milk per day. UMMB supplementation can be re commended to improve the nutritional status of cattle fed straw-based diets. There is a need to extend this technology to a greater number of farmers through intensive extension efforts.