Hydroponics a hit: Working equines enjoy fast growing greens

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A woman feeds her donkeys green fodder from Brooke's Hydroponics Project.
A woman feeds her donkeys green fodder from Brooke’s Hydroponics Project.

Feeding working horses and donkeys green fodder grown via hydroponics has reduced cases of colic and diarrhea and improved body condition, early findings from a pilot project in India have revealed.

The project by working equine charity Brooke started last year in the state of Maharashtra, with 200 families taking part.

Early findings have so far been encouraging, and the charity says with the number of cases of colic and diarrhea reduced from 43% to 17%. A random sample of 150 donkeys also showed an improved Body Condition Score, with an increase in body weight and shinier coats.

A family collecting green shoots for their donkeys as part of Brooke's Hydroponics Project.
A family collecting green shoots for their donkeys as part of Brooke’s Hydroponics Project.

Before starting the project, Brooke India recognised that availability of green fodder was very low and was often too expensive for donkey owners to buy. The Hydroponics project has allowed families who are not able to afford land for crops to grow fodder in trays in a corner of their homes or small areas outside. The method is also cheap as 1kg of maize seeds produces about 8 to 10kg of green fodder, with minimal watering.

Villagers in Maharashtra learn about hydroponics.
Villagers in Maharashtra learn about hydroponics.

Avvalkonda Village donkey owner Gyanoba Raje said the method of growing green fodder was very easy.

“We will be buying our own maize seeds and will propagate this method in other areas as well. This system will remove the scarcity of green fodder for donkeys,” he said.

“I never thought my 10 donkeys would have such good quality green fodder in their lives.”

Brooke help families kick start their cultivation by providing five trays for green fodder production, a first batch of maize seeds and a green shade cloth. The team were also on hand to monitor progress and answer any questions the families had.

The Hydroponics crop growing project was successful and Brooke teams found that the families had found innovative ways of stacking their trays of fodder, using various household or backyard items such as cot frames, branches and iron bars. The donkey owners have been extremely positive about the project and are excited that their donkeys will become healthier and happier as a result of their improved diets.

A woman waters her stacked trays of green fodder. Families had found innovative ways of stacking their trays, Brooke says.
A woman waters her stacked trays of green fodder. Families had found innovative ways of stacking their trays, Brooke says.

Donkey owner Badiram Dake, from Parli, Ambajogia, said hydroponics was “a new thought process” for donkey owners, and they were very happy.

“This method of green fodder cultivation is cost effective and we don’t have to depend on anyone else. We will continue this as we know our donkeys will become healthy. We are very thankful to the Brooke team for their support.”

Donkeys eating maize shoots grown by families taking part in Brooke's hydroponics pilot project.
Donkeys eating maize shoots grown by families taking part in the project.
Donkeys in India enjoying maize shoots, through Brooke's Hydroponics Project.
Donkeys in India enjoying maize shoots, through Brooke’s Hydroponics Project.
The whole family is involved in growing green fodder for their donkeys.
The whole family is involved in growing green fodder for their donkeys.

 

 

 

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