At the 32nd sitting, held on 27 July, the members of the Subcommittee for Monitoring the Agricultural Situation in the Marginal - Most Undeveloped Areas in the Republic of Serbia discussed fodder plants as cattle feed and preparation of heylage for the quality and quantity of meat and milk and health of ruminants.
Subcommittee Chairman Milija Miletic said that fodder plants, chiefly alfalfa and clover, are the third branch of agricultural production in Serbia. The need to grow these plants is rising, he said, adding that t alfalfa is rarely cultivated in the mountainous regions of the country mainly due to the lack of funds, as well as equipment, mechanisation and knowledge. Miletic added the quality of cattle and with it its meat and milk hinges on the quality of its nourishment.
Zeljko Radosevic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, said that the Ministry offered incentives to young farmers to stay in the rural areas and turn to agricultural production. The measures employed last year gave good results and this year the response to the public call opened until 15 August is expected to be even better, which is an excellent opportunity since 75% of the funds offered are non-refundable. He said that there no major problems had been noted as regards silage, while heylage is faced with a lack of proper equipment. 2013 - 2017 the Ministry had, in cooperation with the Fodder Crops Institute and 40 local self-governments in Serbia, realized 30 projects on 430 cattle farms. The 990 soil analyses performed showed that the soil is mainly acidic, which is a limiting factor for the production of alfalfa. Some of the conclusions of the analyses were that the farmers are managing the land satisfactorily and that the soil lacks phosphorus, said Radosevic. Speaking of cattle feed production, it appears that the sowing structure is inadequate i.e. that it incorporates too many small grains. This results in a lack of protein in the cattle feed which reflects on the quality of animal products, said the State Secretary. Farms were also given advice how to improve the quality of the feed because it was noted that no new technologies were employed in its production. Radosevic added that the Ministry would continue with these projects in 2018, this time in cooperation with 15 self-governments, to help new technologies make their way into all the farms.
Prof. Dr Dragan Sefer, Head of the Department of Nutrition and Botany at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, said that the University is a bridge between independent producers and the executive. He opined that the cattle stock in Serbia has been experiencing a constant fall and explained the importance of silage and heylage as cattle feed. Silage is a way to preserve and store fodder, however, the best way to feed cattle is at pasture which is very rare. He said that there is no alternative to green feed because 1 kilo of it contains the highest concentration of nutrients. Still our producers revert to silage, process which eliminates most nutrients, the loss, if done well is between 5 and 10%, but if not it goes up to 40%. Silage is good when vegetation is scarce, and it has been noted that the level of aflatoxins degrades in the process, plus, silage is easy to store. Plants used in silage have to meet certain criteria, foremost to have an adequate minimum sugars i.e. easily soluble carbohydrates which makes corn ideal for silage. Next, silage requires an anaerobic environment and ideal 65-70% humidity. Prof. Dr Sefer said that the crushed wet corn seeds used in Srem and Macva are ideal silage for pigs.
Speaking of heylage, Prof. Dr Sefer said that it can be described as silage with little water as it combines drying and silage. In the process the plant is dried, 50-60%, and then undergoes silage. All the nutritious leaves and flowers are preserved, and it is applied to plants which cannot be used in silage, such as alfalfa which is excellent sheep feed.
A young farmer from Aleksinac then presented his experience of cattle feeding and agricultural production, after which the Subcommittee members adopted a number of conclusions.
The sitting was chaired by Subcommittee Chairman Milija Miletic, and attended by Subcommittee members Mladen Lukic, Dalibor Radicevic and Zarko Bogatinovic.