The most common types of grazing systems are field grazing and confined feeding popularly known as zero grazing
Animals feed freely on growing pasture in a designated area usually in paddocks.
a. Set Stocking
- Cows are kept in one paddock continuously. This is not recommended.
- Cows are moved from one paddock to the next in a predetermined order
- Fields is divided into paddocks and calves are grazed ahead of mature cows
c. Strip Grazing
- Animals are confined in an area with enough grazing for one day. This method has very intensive utilization of pastures.
a. Size of paddocks
- In large farms one-acre plot is preferred.
Paddock size can also depend on the rotational interval.
b. Rotation Frequency
- Animals should not be allowed in a paddock for a period exceeding one week to avoid worm build up and infestation.
c. Stocking rates
- Allowable stocking rate is a quarter acre to three tenth of an acre per cow, per week, in good pastures.
Zero grazing means growing or acquiring high quality feeds and feeding animals inside a confining structure. It is not synonymous with zero feeding.
- It involves cutting and transporting forages for feeding housed or confined animals.
- This is good for small herds in small farms
Housing Plans and Building Materials
a. Housing Plans
- Approved plans should be obtained from the staff of Ministry of Livestock Development or other qualified persons. This gives dimensional specifications and materials, for cubicles, feed troughs, water troughs, calf pens, milking parlor, feed store, floor slope, etc.
b. Building materials
- Use of durable cheaply available materials is recommended. However a cemented floor is preferred because of the constant washing required
Feed and Feed Method
- High yielding fodder such as Napier grass or Maize Stover should be planted near the zero grazing unit.
- Fodder conservation should be done where possible e.g. in form of silage or hay
b. Feeding method
- All forage should be chopped before feeding and feed troughs should be used.
- Feed trough should be enough to accommodate 40-70 kg of chopped feed material per day
- Concentrates should be given to high yielders during milking i.e. to say those producing over 10 kg of milk per day.
Zero Grazing Hygiene
- Concrete floors should be washed daily.
- Dung should be removed every day and heaped away from the unit
- Water should be nearby and should be changed daily after cleaning the water trough.
- Dry beddings should be supplied in the cubicles and in calf pens.
- Hoofs of all cows should be trimmed regularly as need be.
Conditions that qualify Zero Grazing
- Farm size should be small
- Management must be high and yield more than 10 kg of milk per animal per day
- Prices of milk must be high enough to meet the costs of production and make profit.