Agriculture is the backbone of world’s economy and food availability. Various biotic and abiotic factors affect agriculture. These factors affect the productivity of agriculture. Weeds are a major factor in biological factors, which affect agriculture and reduce productivity. Although we only know about the negative and harmful effects of weeds, weed species are also an important source of fodder for our pets. The biomass of various beneficial weed species provides nutrient-rich fodder for the animals.
Various weeds used as animal feed –
- Wild jujube or Ziziphus numularia
- Amaranth or Amaranthus species
- False Amaranth False or Digera arvensis
- Lamb’s quarters or Chenopodium album
- Onionweed Or Asphodelus tenufolius
- Anagalis arvensis or Scarlet pimpernel
- Bermuda grass or Cynodon dactylon
- Boerhaavia diffusa
- Calotropis gigantica
- Asian pigeonwings or Clitoria ternetea
- Yellow Pea or Lathyrus aphac,
- Wild Jute or Corchorus olitorius
- Field bindweed or Convolvulus arvensis
- Wild Oat or Avena fatua
- Launaea asplenifolia
The details of some weeds used as animal feed are as follows -
Wild jute or Corchorus olitorius
The leaves of Corchorus olitorius contain 18.38% ash, 12.54% crude protein, 11.99% crude lipid and 19.56% available carbohydrate. The high energy value of leaves is 200.78 kcal/100 g respectively. The minerals analyzed are potassium (2814.15 mg/100 g) and magnesium (76.69 mg/100 g). The leaves of Corchorus olitorius are rich sources of potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc as well as high energy value essential for human and animal nutrition. Its leaves are sticky, so animals eat them with great fervor. This plant grows in Kharif or rainy season at the beginning of the rainy season and produces seeds at the end of Kharif or rainy season.
Chicory or Cichorium intybus
Chicory is a perennial herbaceous plant, its flowers are bright blue with sometimes white or pink. Many of its varieties are cultivated for its lettuce leaves, roots that are used as a coffee substitute and as a food additive. An extract of chicory root has been used as a sweetener in food manufacturing and as a source of dietary fiber. Chicory is grown as an animal feed crop. It lives in its original form as a wild plant along the roadsides. Under favorable conditions chicory produces large quantities of high quality fodder in hot climates. The use of chicory as fodder is as nutritious as legume plants in livestock and yields relatively good results from grass-based pastures. In addition, chicory can reduce some internal parasites in animals because of its ability to reduce the use of anthelmintic agents.
Convolvulus arvensis or Field bindweed
It is consumed by ruminant animals like goat/sheep. It contains calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, it contains 33.8% NDF, 11.6% crude protein, and 72.1% of gross digestible nutrients. Its leaves, twigs are eaten by animals and its dry leaves and green fresh leaves are liked by animals. , The Convolvulus arvensis plant can be grazed or harvested at a more mature stage. Convolvulus arvensis are sufficient nutrition and quality feed to meet the nutritional requirements of ruminant animals.
Butterfly pea or Clitoria ternetea
Clitoria ternetea is a leguminous weed. Its fodder is nutritious, tasty and digestible for animals. Its stem is very thin and soft and leaves are broad and more number, due to which it is considered suitable for fodder and silage making. In comparison to other pulse crops, it starts growing again in a short period after harvesting or grazing. It has more potential for fodder production. Nutrient content of Clitoria ternetea feed such as protein N 6.25 by 19-23 percent, crude fiber 29-38 percent, ether extract 3.4-4.4 percent, NDF 42-54 percent, ADF 38-47 percent, fiber 21-29 percent, Lignin is 14-16%, ash is 7-9% and digestibility is 60-75%.
Ziziphus Numularia or wild jujube
Ziziphus Numularia contain 14% crude protein, 3% ether extract, 17% crude fiber, 56% nitrogen-free extract, 73% total carbohydrate, 10% total ash, 2.8% calcium and 0.14% phosphorus. Strawberry leaves are rich in various trace elements, namely iron, manganese, and zinc and copper. Similarly, the amount of manganese and copper is more than the minimum, essential nutrients are found to meet the needs of animals. Only the amount of zinc is found to be useful. Ziziphus nummularia is locally known as jharberi or bordi. It is a drought-resistant native thorny shrub that grows abundantly in semi-arid sandy soils and is found in arid regions of the country. It is easily available for grazing animals like sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.
Cynodon dactylon or Bermuda grass
Bermuda grass is a major natural source of animal feed. All animals require hay in reasonable quantities. Production of animal feed and grass and conservation of pasture is an important task in the overall animal husbandry. Bermuda grass is a cotyledonous green plant; it is used as fodder for animals like cow, buffalo, goat etc. Inside the soil, there is a dense network of roots of the Bermuda grass, which reduces the erosion and runoff of the soil by rain-water. Due to the dense leaves on the ground, the erosion of the soil by the wind does not happen. Bermuda grass has excellent dispersal ability; its stolons are capable of growing more than 7.5 cm/day. Its dry weight yield is about 5-15 t/ha Bermuda grass is one of the most grazing resistant grasses and once established can withstand repeated grazing.
Amaranth (Amaranthus species)
In arid and semi-arid regions, there is more growth of vegetation after rain. Most of these monsoon Vegetative products, amaranth are a major Vegetative product which matures in 2-3 months from July to September. This plant is rich in animal nutrition and other important chemicals and is more digestible. If these plants are collected in time and dried with local techniques, it can be a good source of fodder for livestock during times of shortage of fodder. Amaranth grows in abundance in the monsoon in barren, agricultural and non-agricultural lands, so that dry bio production up to 10-15 quintals per hectare can be achieved. Its plant is rich in protein and its leaves are juicy and the stem is soft, which can be a tasty food for sheep, goats and cows. Amaranth species have better nutritional properties and have a higher proportion of rumen undeveloped proteins than other forages. Its consumption increases the digestive capacity. On the basis of chemical composition, mineral content, in vitro digestibility and moderate crude protein value, it can be said that this forage has potential as a ruminant feedstuff and when it is not possible to make a "hay" of grass, amaranth can be used as preserved silage