A new research paper has been published on ‘Improved Milk Production from Supplementation of Swamp Buffalo with Molasses Nutrient Blocks Containing 10% Urea’. Click here to access the full paper written by Peter Windsor, Susan Martin, Syseng Khounsy, James Young, Peter Thomson and Russell Bush.
Milk production from Asiatic swamp buffalo is a new enterprise in Laos. As yields are limited, provision of high-quality cow-calf molasses nutrient blocks containing 10% urea (UMNB10) may improve productivity. A trial in a recently established commercial buffalo dairy examined dietary supplementation of lactating buffalo cows with UMNB10, with three groups of nine cows in mid-lactation randomly selected. Two groups received ad libitum access to UMBs with the remaining group free of block supplements. All animals were daily fed fresh Napier grass (30 kg), corn (750 gm), rice bran (1.45 kg), plus accessed fresh Mulatto grass. Daily milk production (DMP) and body condition score (BCS) were recorded for the 2 months of access to UMB. Average DMP for the two supplemented groups were 1.02 and 0.96 L, compared to 0.78 L for the control group, suggesting improved milk productivity of 31 and 24% from accessing UMB. Partial budget analysis identified a strong incentive for use of the molasses blocks, with a net profit of USD 408 and USD 295 over a 30-day period for the supplemented groups. A multi-intervention livestock development strategy that includes a combination of nutritional and health interventions has been proposed for scale-out to assist smallholder livestock farming efficiency in developing countries. The use of high-quality molasses blocks may be a simple motivator for these communities to increase the efficiency of large ruminant production, improving rural livelihoods, food security, and potentially, reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) from ruminant-derived foods.