ARGENTINA – Huge water savings can be achieved by feeding goats, sheep and cattle with chopped cactus fruit, Argentinian farmers are hearing.
Water needs of livestock can be reduced by between 40 and 60 per cent, Government scientists said while underling the economic importance of growing the fodder crop.
Prickly pears, or Higo de Tuna in Spanish, are a low input, low cost crop to produce, according to the National Institute for Agriculture and Livestock Technology (INTA).
INTA, however, stressed ‘Tuna’ reduce rather than replace water.
Quantities required vary according to animal size but four pieces per day is suitable for all animals.
Salted for palatability, Higo de Tuna are easy to grow, said INTA spokesperson Aldo Smeriglio.
“Leaves are cut, buried halfway and they directly take root,” explained Mr Smeriglio.
Low protein levels mean stock rations must be supplemented with feed, corn or alfalfa, he added.
Stressing the impact the fodder could have, INTA added that 80 per cent of Argentina’s sheep and 40 per cent of cattle live in “dryland” regions.
This makes up 75 per cent of the country’s total area.
“It is a useful option to meet the water needs of cattle, sheep and goats,” said Mr Smeriglio.
“Rations can be adjusted but, in general, three to four pads per day is consumable.”