Cattle and dairy farmers of Chittagong region are gravely concerned as the prices of cattle fodder has gone up recently.
The soaring price of animal food may trigger a hike in cattle price during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice.
Shahed Ayatullah Khan, a cattle farm owner, has 25 bulls that he intends for fattening, and 70 cows in his dairy farm, located at Patenga area in the port city.
He told the Dhaka Tribune that the dairy and cattle fattening business had turned out to be a loss project due to sudden hike in prices of fodder and low price of milk.
“High prices of hay, oil cake and wheat bran are affecting cattle farming. Milk production is now at stake as we cannot afford the pricey fodders,” he said. “A local cow provides two to three litres of milk a day which is sold at Tk50/litre on an average, while the fodder and other costs sum up to at least Tk60.”
Some other cattle traders said they preferred local cross breed - Horiana, Australian Frizian, Shahiwal and Pabna breed of cattle - for fattening.
The prices of fodder witnessed a sharp rise following the recent floods which damaged grazing fields. The cattle farm owners also put part of the blame on the syndicates for the sudden price hike.
“In the rainy season it is not possible for cattle to graze as the lands go under water. And it takes time for new grass to grow,” said Shahed Ayatullah, who is also an executive member of the Chittagong Dairy Farm Association.
The farmers said that the prices of all types of fodder like wheat bran, straw, soybean meal, oil cake, granular rice and pulse powder had been increased in past few months.
Now each kg of straw is selling for Tk15-17 compared to previous price of Tk8-10.
One kg of wheat bran is sold at Tk33 against previous price of Tk20, granular rice Tk45 against Tk25 and pulse powder is sold at Tk37 against previous price of Tk25.
Moreover, the prices of oil cake and green fodder like Napier and local varieties have increased in the market.
Soybean cake or meal, a major source of protein for the cattle, is manufactured through crushing soybean seeds, price of which has also risen sharply. Now each kg of soybean meal is sold at Tk53 against a previous price of Tk30.
Mustard oil cake now sells at Tk38 per kg against a previous price of Tk25. Molasses used to be sold at Tk20 per kg, but now it is sold at Tk30.
One kg of pulse powder is now sold at Tk37 against a previous price of Tk25.
According to Chittagong District Livestock Office, there are around 1,500 dairy farms and 4,100 cattle fattening farms in the district. Of the dairy farms, only 450 are registered.
On the other hand, the cattle fattening farms are not registered as seasonal cattle raisers do not feel encouraged to go for the registration.
To be dubbed as a dairy, a farm should have at least 3 cows, while a farm should have heard of at least 10 to be termed as a cattle fattening farm.
Dr Md Reajul Huq, district livestock officer, however told the Dhaka Tribune that the price hike of animal food ahead of Eid-ul-Azha was not abnormal.
“To recoup the price hike, the traders usually shoot up the cattle price. However, the farmers need not worry over the hike of animal foods. We always advise the farmers to adopt the scientific method of cattle fattening which is cost-effective too,” the livestock officer added.
“The scientific method of fattening cattle is to feed a mixture of urea, molasses and straw (UMS) to the cattle at right proportions. Ten kilograms of straw mixed with 6-7 litres of water, 2.5kg molasses and 300gm of urea make ideal UMS food for cattle fattening. An adult cow may take only 4-5kg a day and the animal should undergo de-worming beforehand,” said the official.
“The mixture should be fed for a period of six months along with other balanced food. After keeping the mixture in a closed container for eight days it should be dried in the sun to make it ready for use as fodder,” Dr Md Reajul added.