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Home > Solutions > Post-harvest Loss Management and Food Systems
May 24, 2023    

"Zhangzagu" Hybrid Millet as Feed Conversion Utilization: Alternative Fodder Resources in Livestock

Technical Solution;Drought-resistant;Millet Value Chain;Zhangzagu;Feed Conversion;Livestock;Fodder Production;IYM 2023

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I. Challenge

The drought-resistant and highly nutritious "Zhangzagu" hybrid millet provides a new perspective for food production in water-scarce areas. Exploring its usages for grain forage livestock farming can effectively solve the problem of insufficient fodder resources in livestock industry and the high cost of imported fodder. [1]

II. Approaches

• Water-saving advantage of "Zhangzagu" as fodder

Typically, general crops produce 1kg of food per cubic meter of water, whereas hybrid millet can produce 5kg of food per cubic meter of water. Research proves that "Zhangzagu" has extremely high-water use efficiency and tillering self-adjustment. In areas with 400mm precipitation, high yield can be obtained with rain-fed irrigation alone. Even in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, where the annual rainfall is only 39mm, a stable yield can still be achieved by irrigating 1200m³ per hectare before sowing, coupled with mulching technology.

Millet fodder advantage: drought-resistant and water-saving

• Comprehensive nutritional content of "Zhangzagu" suitable for fodder

The crude protein content of "Zhangzagu" dry straw is about 6.22% to 7.35%, and the crude protein content of wax-ripe straw is even higher, about 11.99% to 13.34%, higher than other gramineous forages. Its nutritional value is close to alfalfa, known as the "king of forages", but its yield significantly exceeds alfalfa [11]. Therefore, "Zhangzagu" can be developed as a brand-new fodder. The content of 8 essential amino acids in millet is comparable to that of an egg, except for slightly lower lysine.


Mechanical drying of millet fodder

III. Effect of the Solution

Impact of using millet as a substitute for oat grass on dairy cow productivity (2016-2017): significant increase in milk production

Taking dairy cow feeding as an example, replacing 50% of ryegrass with fermented "Zhangzagu" yields an additional 2.31 yuan/cow/day (US$0.36/cow/day), replacing 30% alfalfa earns 6.57 yuan/cow/day (US$1.02/cow/day), and substituting 20% corn results in 3.55 yuan/cow/day (US$0.55/cow/day). Taking fattening sheep feeding as an example, substituting 40% of corn stover with millet increases the weight by 7.27% and the survival rate by 7.14%.

Livestock and poultry consuming "Zhangzagu" can improve their immunity; resist intestinal stress responses, contribute to the stability of intestinal flora, and enhance the functions of the intestinal mucosal mechanical barrier.

From 2019 to 2021, the accumulated promotion of "Zhangzagu" fodder variety cultivation area reached 1.742 million acres, with an average dry grass yield of 702.75 kg per acre, an increase of 232.75 kg. Calculated at the price of 1.45 yuan per kilogram of dry grass (US$0.23), the added pure income was 584.48 million yuan (US$90.75 million), and the total economic benefit was 1.71766 billion yuan (US$266.4 million). Accumulated water saving was 200 cubic meters, and carbon reduction was 348 million cubic meters.


Fermented whole plant fodder millet silage wrap for dairy cows and ewes

IV. Lessons Learned

The promotion of "Zhangzagu" fodder production technology and efficient utilization will fully play the natural balanced nutritional value of "Zhangzagu", its high-yield drought-resistant and water-saving characteristics, and its broad ecological adaptability. This has great significance for securing animal nutrition and human health.


This article is excerpted from: Analysis of the Conversion Utilization of "Zhangzagu" as Fodder

[1] Wu Baohua, Wang Weibin, Sun Lianzhen, etc. Analysis of Nutritional Components of Millet Stalks of Different Varieties [J]. Inner Mongolia Agricultural Technology, 2005(6): 39-40.

For more information, please contact WFP China COE (wfpcn.coe@wfp.org)


"Zhangzagu" Hybrid Millet as Feed Conversion Utilization: Alternative Fodder Resources in Livestock


"Zhangzagu" Hybrid Millet as Feed Conversion Utilization


Technical Solution