Facts about Azolla
- Azolla can be used as unconventional high potential feed resource for non-ruminants.
- Above all, for the best performance, diets of chicks can be formulated with inclusion of Azolla up to 10%. Azolla feeding also improves the weight of broiler chicken and increasing the egg production in case of layer.
- Azolla is a good source of minerals and essential amino acids; its usage is limited in pig production due to their low digestible energy.
- Azolla can be used as an ideal source of feed for cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits and fish as an alternate source to a concentrate/ feed/fodder to improve the production status of the animals.
- Azolla is a good source of protein and it contains almost all essential amino acids, minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese etc, apart from appreciable quantities of vitamin A.
- On dry matter basis, it contains 25 – 35% protein, 10 –15% minerals and 7 – 10% of amino acids.
- The carbohydrate and fat content of Azolla is very low.
- Azolla as feed substitute shows that there is an overall increase of milk by 15-20% by supplementing feed with the same quantity of Azolla on dry weight basis without affecting milk production.
Selection of location for the pond
- The location of Azolla pit/pond should be near water source.
- It should have access to road/path which helps for better maintainanace.
- The pit base and side should be free from plant roots, spiny materials, stones etc. which damages the polythene sheet.
- Preferably the pit/pond must be under shade.
Pond size and construction
- The size of pond/pit depends on number of animals, quantity of supplemental feed required and availability of resources.
- A small animal holder can have pit size 6 ×4 feet which can produce about one kg of supplemental feed per day.
- All corners of the selected area should be cleaned and levelled so that a uniform water level can be maintained.
- The side walls of the pond can be of either bricks or raised embankment with the excavated soil.
- The pit floor is covered with plastic gunnies to prevent the roots of the nearby trees piercing the silpauline sheet, which is spread over the plastic gunnies without any fold.
- After spreading the durable plastic sheet, all the sides have to be secured properly by placing bricks over the side walls.
Method of Azolla production
- About 10-15 kg of sieved fertile soil mixed it with 5 kg cow dung and makes the slurry in needed water to be spread uniformly in the pit/pond.
- Water level should be filled in pit/pond at three fourth part of pit/pond size and also regularly maintain this same level.
- About 1-1.5 kg of fresh Azolla culture is needed for a pond of 6 × 4 feet size.
- After the inoculation of culture, the pond should be covered with a green net to provide partial shade and also, to prevent the fall of leaves and other debris into the pond.
- After 10-15 days, Azolla fills the pit/pond because it grows rapidly after that we can remove one kg every day for animal feeding.
- Once in every 15 days, application of 2-5 kg buffalo dung, 100 g super phosphate should be added to obtain better growth of Azolla.
- Any litter or aquatic weeds seen in the pond should be removed regularly.
- The pond needs to be emptied once in six months and cultivation has to be restarted with fresh Azolla
- In case of contamination of the pits by pests and diseases, the cleaning of the previous biomass of Azolla and water from the affected pit should be done and fresh inoculation should be done with pure culture of Azolla.
- Azolla can be fed to the livestock either in fresh or dried form.
- It takes a few days for the animals to get aquainted to the taste of Azolla. So, it is better to feed it along with the concentrates in the initial stages so the fresh Azolla should be mixed with commercial feed in 1:1 ratio to feed livestock at initial stage.
- After a fortnight of feeding on Azolla mixed with concentrate, livestock may be fed with Azolla without added concentrate.
How much to feed?
|Animal||Amount Per Day|
|Adult cow, buffalo, bullock||1.5–2.0 kg|
Source: Mahesh Chander; Azolla: a sustainable animal feed? FAO. 2011. Successes and failures with animal nutrition practices and technologies in developing countries. Proceedings of the FAO Electronic Conference, 1-30 September 2010, Rome, Italy.
- Temperature should be maintained below 30ºC in case the temperature goes up, it should be maintained by providing shade to the pond.
- Bio-mass should be removed every day or alternative days to avoid overcrowding.
- Azolla should be well washed with water before feeding to livestock to get rid of foul smell of cow dung.
Kumar A, Biradar AP and Pattar PS (2016). Azolla Cultivation and its Use as alternative green fodder for livestock. Indian Farming 66(1): 10–13.
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