Animal Andy

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The Malawi Government is currently encouraging expansion of beef cattle stall feeding and dairy production among the estate sector. Large-scale intensive monogastric production poultry and pigs is mostly influenced by supply of good quality feed at reasonable and affordable prices.

Small ruminants such as goats and sheep are basically kept under the free-range system. Indigenous chickens comprise more than 80 percent of the chicken population in Malawi. These are kept under the free-range system. Broiler enterprises range from small units of birds and large enterprises of more than 30 birds.

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The national livestock database is particularly weak when compared with that developed for crops. Estimates of livestock populations incorporate a large margin of error. DAHI maintains a record of livestock numbers through annual surveys carried out by Veterinary Assistants scattered throughout the country. The NSO, on the other hand, conducts periodic surveys of agriculture that include livestock.

The discrepancies between these two institutions warrant establishment of a proper nation-wide livestock monitoring system. It is clear from Table 1 that chickens are the most common type of stock kept. The MoAI reported that there were 61 pigs, 1 broiler chickens, layers and 27 cattle both dairy and beef kept under intensive production systems.


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Information on availability of protein sources and their utilization in Malawi is scarce and the pattern of their use not fully known. This is mainly due to lack of funds and adequate expertise with which to conduct appropriate studies to determine the available feed resource base. There is also a lack of adequate and reliable laboratory facilities for chemical analyses to determine the nutrient composition of feedstuffs for feeding trials.

Similarly, there is limited expertise in animal nutrition with only seven animal nutritionists at national level. Rapid expansion and intensification of livestock production, especially poultry, have led to a sharp increase in requirements for concentrates. As a result there has been an increase in the requirements for the supply of protein sources.

Protein feed sources in Malawi are either of plant or animal origin. The commonly available type of animal protein is fishmeal. Fishmeal is also imported from other countries such as South Africa and Chile. Fishmeal is generally expensive and its use in animal feed is limited. It is a major source of protein for humans. The major source of fish is Lake Malawi with lesser quantities being supplied by small rivers. One other potential protein source that goes to waste is that from the two major hatcheries. This is primarily due to lack of appropriate processing facilities.

Oilseed meals and grain legumes form the bulk of plant protein used in livestock feeds used by the animal industry. The main source of plant protein used in Malawi is soybean meal, most of which is the full fat type. This is due to the fact that there are very few plants processing oil from soybean in Malawi. Other plant protein sources include sunflower cake, cottonseed cake and groundnut cake. There is apparently very little use of legumes such as pigeon peas, cowpeas, and chickpeas.

Traditional and unconventional plant protein sources are presented in Table 2. The Table indicates that the yield from legumes is low, probably due to poor husbandry practices.

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With proper management and use of the correct inputs, yields could be greatly improved. Production of grain legumes in Malawi for the past five seasons is presented in Table 3. These are the legumes currently being evaluated by the Animal Science Department of the University of Malawi. Plant protein sources are fed directly or after on farm feed mixing as complete feeds, where maize meal is the main basal ingredient.

Oil seed meals and legumes normally comprise percent of the livestock diets. Soybean meal is used most extensively as a source of protein, especially in poultry diets. In general, soybean meal accounts for more than 70 percent of the protein source used in compound feeds for poultry and other livestock.

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Use of other legumes such as beans, pigeon peas, groundnut meal and cowpeas is limited due to a number of factors such as:. Loss of crops to overseas markets. Large quantities of pigeon peas are exported to other countries such as India, making the legume unavailable for use in Malawi. Until recently, not much had been done on the chemical and feeding properties and utilization of these plant proteins by livestock in Malawi.

The University of Malawi is currently embarking on the chemical analysis and characterization of national protein feed resources. Current studies show that proper processing is required before legumes such as soybeans, cowpeas and pigeon peas can be incorporated in animal diets. Simoongwe reported that roasting legumes can decrease the content of trypsin inhibitor TI in such crops as soybeans Table 4.

Although advocated for use in poultry diets for a long time, Phaseolus beans are rarely used in livestock feeds. Edje reported that Phaseolus beans contain 22 percent crude protein, 57 percent carbohydrates and a low fibre content of 4 percent. On the other hand, Mwangwela reported that the crude protein of Phaseolus beans ranged from 17 percent to 20 percent depending on variety used.

The potential use of beans as a protein source in the animal feed industry needs to be explored. The TI content of beans could be improved by boiling or germinating the seeds.

Kalimbira reported that boiling soybeans reduced trypsin inhibition from Germinating the seeds was also reported to reduce inhibition from The compound feed industry in Malawi is small with both big and small scale feed millers. The animal feed industry produces concentrates for both on-farm feed mixing and complete feeds. Due to lack of data on chemical composition of available feed ingredients, the majority of feed compounders rely on composition tables for feed formulation. These tables are produced in other countries.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that most feed millers do not have laboratory facilities for analysis of the nutrient content of their ingredients. Feed mills in Malawi are mainly used for grinding, dosing and mixing feeds from cereals and oil seed meals. Recently, the pelleted feed has been introduced in Malawi. The animal feed industry compounds more feed for monogastric animals pigs and poultry than for ruminants. Protein sources used by the feed industry are either bought from within the country or imported from the neighbouring countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia or South Africa.

The proportion of protein used in the diets varies according to the relative price of the available protein sources such as legumes, fish meal and milling by-products.

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Production of compound feed in Malawi has grown substantially and almost in parallel with an increase in intensive livestock production systems. This has seen an increase in the emergence of feed manufacturing companies. Most feed mills are concentrated in the urban areas of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu where these is a large number of pig and poultry enterprises.

Prices of feed from these manufacturing companies tend to vary depending on their source of ingredients and where they are located. Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

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