In cattle business, continuous availability of forage feed in the dry season is still hampered. Various efforts to provide forage for cattle have been conducted many times with the utilization of products and agricultural industries waste. Nevertheless, food availability is still limited in certain locations.
Soeharsono, S.Pt., M.Si., researcher at BPTP Yogyakarta Special Region, said in dry land regions such as Gunung Kidul, there is still a shortage of feed from year to year in the dry season. This happens because during harvest season in the first growing season, farmers are more concentrated on the management of second food crops. The forage management and agriculture products waste for feed stock was often overlooked resulting in a shortage of feed.
"To meet the forage needs in the dry season, Gunung Kidul’s farmers always bring in feeds from outside the region in the form fresh corn feed," he said on Wednesday (14/12) while conducting his doctoral program’s open examination at the UGM Faculty of Animal Science.
On average each day the farmers bring in around 75-150 trucks of fresh corn feeds or about 4,000 kilogram per truck. Corn feed price starts from Rp250 per kilogram. Every day requires an investment of Rp75 thousand to Rp150 thousand. "The high feed investment causes the cattle business system in that area to be always experiencing losses," he said.
Seeing this condition, Soeharsono was inspired to conduct a research with results to provide alternative solutions to the problems of feed shortage. In this case, Soeharsono utilizes the local food that is relatively abundant in Gunung Kidul, namely cassava. At harvest season which falls on the dry season, cassava is usually sold in a low price between Rp800-1200 per kilogram.
"To increase the added value of cassava during the harvest season, it needs to be processed into feed to support the availability of cattle feed so that animal protein can be formed in a more efficient way. Cassava plants could potentially be made to become hay as an alternative feed source," he explained.
In his dissertation entitled Optimizing the Use of Cassava Plants and Corn Cob in Beef Cattle Rations, Soeharsono mentions all of the cassava plants can be used as ruminant cattle’s feed. Dried cassava leaves contain 32.30% of crude protein, 11.76% of dry stem, and 2% dry root. The combination of the three parts of cassava plant as a source of local feed ingredients can meet the need of protein for rumen microbial growth.
Cassava utilization as animal feed, he added, has been widely applied. But its use is limited because of the cyanide which is toxic if consumed in a certain amount in a fresh condition. To be used as feed, cassava has to be chopped first and then sun dried until the content is 80-90% dry. The drying process can reduce cyanide levels by 90%, so it is safe for feed as well as save increase supplies time in the dry season.
Besides cassava, for alternative forage feed replacement corn cobs can be used. Cobs contain nutrients that are relatively similar to the characteristics of rice straw with low nitrogen content, high lignocellulose and minerals deficient, thus the level of digestion is low. Urea is used in cobs’ ammoniac process to lower the NDF fiber fraction and to increase the level of crude protein and digestion rate.
Soeharsono said that a combination of cassava plants with ammonic corn cobs on the degradation process on rumen has a positive effect in degradation of feed. Increase in the addition of processed cassava plants by 80% and 20% corn cobs in Poong PO beef rations causes an increase in the total consumption of dry feed materials. In addition, increase in the addition of each causes the rice straw consumption to decrease and has no effect on the consumption of concentrates. "The consumption of cassava and cobs qualitatively is better than rice straw and could replace rice straw consumption up to 85%," he explained.
The results of other studies also showed that the increase in processed cassava with cobs feed consumption is able to increase energy intake thereby causing a quadratic increase in daily body weight gain of PO beef cattle. The addition of processed feed until 4.5% of W0 level, 75 could increase daily body weight gain of 47.45% and lower feed conversion by 35.47%.