Fodder Species

Forest grazing, a conventional resource, follows a centuries-old use of the forestland in Pakistan. Almost all types and legal categories of forests are burdened with unspecified grazing rights and privileges. The grazing pressure has been increasing with the increase in human and livestock populations. Consequently, uncontrolled heavy grazing is causing great damage to soil and vegetation due to compaction and trampling. This creates gaps in the forests and retrogression in certain localities. Summer grazing by both local and nomadic livestock is very common in the moist temperate forest ranges in the northern mountainous tract. These forests are mostly located between 200 and 300 m above sea level, where, due to favorable moisture and temperature conditions, luxurious ground vegetation, and perennial and annual grasses, heavy uncontrolled grazing causes considerable damage to both the forest and range vegetation [12],

Witchcraft Limpopo
Fig. 2.4 Fodder for live stock

Fodder is the basic demand of cattle. Cattle's fodder requirement is fulfilled in the area because it is rich in fodder species. Local people use trees, shrubs, and herbs as fodder for their livestock. Primarily the members of the family Poaceae are used as fodder in both fresh and dry forms throughout the year. However, Brassica campestris (Sarsoon), Berberis lycium (Sumbal), Celtis caucasica (Batkair), Ficus spp. (Phagwara), Grewia optiva (Dhaman), Melia azedarach (Drek), Morus spp., and Punica granatum (Drauna) are used as fodder in their respective seasons. Grazing is the usual practice for cows, goats, and buffalo. These domestic animals fulfill the dairy requirements of the local people as well as improve the local micro economy. Agricultural areas and "Rakhan" consist of those areas of Guzara forests that have abundant grasses, are harvested in September for the winter, and are regulated as the property of households not cut before September and protected from grazing. Rakhan areas form patches of Guzara forests that are the only source of fodder in winter.

Grasses are the most important fodder of the area and are found abundantly. Major grass species that are grazed by the animals and stored for winter are Alopecurus myosuroides, Aristida cynantha, Avena sativa, Cynodon dactylon, Dichanthium annulatum, Heteropogon contortus, Phlaris minor, and Sorghum halepense. Grasses are stored from August to October after the monsoon rainy season (Fig. 2.4). The stored grasses are used from November to January. From mid-January, when the stored fodder diminishes, the leaves of trees and shrubs, mainly Grewia optiva (Dhaman), Celtis australis (Batkair), Quercus spp., Broussonetia papyrifera (Gangli toot), Ficus variegate (Phagwari), Myrsine africana (Khukan), Segeretia brandrethiana (Ghangir), and Olea ferruginea (Kahu), are used, which play a vital role in maintaining the fodder supply during the off-season (November to February).

The grasses are cut with a sickle (dranti) and spread over the land for drying in handfuls called datha. After the dathas are dry, people make one gadi of 12 dathas and put it back on the land for further drying for 3-4 days. Then they make gada, which is a rectangular stack by putting six to eight gadis, one upon the other. Then, by stacking gadas one upon the other, they make a ghara (the complete stock), which has a rectangular shape. Sorghum halepense grass (Baru) is placed on it, so that rainwater cannot enter. Ropes (sub) of Aristida funiculata (Bhari) and Dichanthium fovealatum (Palwa) are used to tie the ghara, In the case of maize, people cut the maize and spread on land for 3-4 days. When it is dried, they tie the stocks in armfuls called poola and spread them on the land. With the help of wood, they make ghori, which consists of two Y-shaped pieces of wood created on the land with a straight piece of wood placed between them. They place the poola along this on both sides, along the length of the straight piece of wood. When the poola are dried, they make ghara, The fodder species are found in the area near houses; sometimes people have to go 2-3 km away from their houses. Mostly, male collect the fodder, but females also participate. Women usually conduct one trip per day during the collection period. They also conduct two to three trips in exceptional cases (marriage and festivals). According to area inhabitants, the density of grasses and other fodder species is decreasing due to the loss of soil fertility, increase in population, fire, overgrazing and browsing, and increased use of plants as fuelwood. Local people suggest that grazing is necessary for growth of the grasses as the feces of animals provides very good manure, preventing the soil from becoming nutrient-deficient.

Local people also use trees and shrubs as fodder for their livestock, including Carissa opaca, Berberis lyceum, Broussonetia papyrifera, Diospyros lotus, Ficus variegata, Quercus leuctrichophora, Acacia spp., Morus spp., Melia azedarach, Olea ferruginea, Zizyphus jujuba, Myrsine africana, Pyrus spp., Prunus spp., Grewia optiva, Segeretia brandrethiana, and Celtis australis. They cut branches with leaves with the help of sickles. The basic unit of collection is called a phant or dali, Thirty to 40 phants or dalis are tied together with the help of elastic branches of Morus spp., Dodonaea viscosa, Myrsine africana, Grewia optiva, Vitex negundo, Olea ferruginea, and Cotinus coggyria called sub, Then they use sub to tie the entire phants or dalis together to make a gada, The weight of this gada is about 25-35 kg. Among households interviewed, it was found that most of them could meet their winter fodder requirement. But those who could not meet it buy grass, maize, and wheat stalks from local villages. Livestock, especially buffalo, cows, and goats, totally depend upon the stored fodder and fodder species found during winter.

Grazing animals provide a very good natural material for the soil that ensures the regeneration of fodder species next year. However, locals may be told to avoid periodic grazing of specific areas, to give that area enough time for recovery. This can be achieved through rotational grazing; based on community self-management, it encourages keeping livestock of improved breeds and helps in the formation of livestock associations. Olea ferruginea, Myrsine africana, Accacia spp., Quercus leuctrichophora, Morus spp., Pyrus spp., and Grewia optiva emerge as the most sustainable.

These species play a vital role in maintaining the fodder supply during the off-season of November to February. The wood, branches, bark, and fruit of these species are used as food, fuel, agricultural tools, rope, and thatching, among other uses.

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