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Feeding of Pregnant Buffaloes

Appropriate intake of nutrients is essential to achieve optimal fetal growth and neonatal survival. In early pregnancy, buffaloes should be fed on maintenance level or restricted level of feeding to increase conception rate. In general, until the last one third of gestation, nutrient requirements for intra-uterine growth are very small relative to mother’s maintenance. Only about one-third of the total products of conceptus are produced during the first 7 months of gestation period. Subsequently, there is rapid acceleration in fetal development during the last 3 months of gestation period. Generally, buffaloes should be fed to support 750-900 g average daily weight gain during last 2 month of pregnancy and about 700g average daily weight gain during the last 3 month of pregnancy.

In pregnancy of adult buffaloes, CP requirement increases by 3, 8.4, 16, 26, 43 and 64% of maintenance requirement on 5th 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th   and 10th month of pregnancy, respectively. The corresponding increases in TDN requirements are 4.3, 7.2, 18.8, 22.2, 39.0 and 67.4 % of maintenance requirement, respectively. During pregnancy substantial extra uterine growth in the mother takes place especially during early pregnancy. This is necessary in immature animals that are still growing i.e. those in first and second pregnancy and hence 20 and 10% of maintenance requirement of energy and protein should be additionally fed to the heifers in first and second pregnancy, respectively. In case of adult buffaloes maternal growth is considered as non-essential for pregnancy. However, in high yielding buffaloes additional allowance during early pregnancy may be given to facilitate building up of extra body reserve which can be utilized to meet out energy deficiency in early lactation when animals are invariably in negative energy balance due to limited DM intake capacity. Pregnant buffaloes should be dried at least 2 month before expected date of calving. In pregnancy, DM intake is low (about 1.7- 2% of BW). Pregnant dry buffaloes (at > 5 month of pregnancy) should be fed with 30 Kg green fodder and 2 Kg concentrate mixture (20% CP & 70% TDN) and ad libitum wheat straw. With decrease in availability of green fodder 1 Kg concentrate mixture should be additionally fed to replace every 10 Kg green fodder.

This ration will meet protein requirement for entire pregnancy and energy requirement upto 9.5 month of pregnancy but will fall short of energy requirement on the last 2 weeks of pregnancy when additionally 1-1.5 Kg grain has to be fed. For pregnant immature buffaloes in first pregnancy, additional 1 Kg grain or 5.5 Kg cereal fodder or 7.5 Kg legume fodder should be fed to support 300-350 g average daily maternal growth. Similarly, buffaloes in their 2nd pregnancy should be fed additional 0.5 Kg grain or 2.7 Kg cereal fodder or 3.7 Kg legume fodder to support 120-200 g average daily maternal growth. Challenge feeding of buffaloes with good quality fodder and concentrate mixture during last three weeks of pregnancy helps in priming the rumen for increased concentrate feeding in early lactation and build up body reserve for lactation .

contributed by S.S Paul and Sunesh