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Azolla for Livestock
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Azolla has an enormous potential as a livestock feed. It is able to proliferate without inorganic nitrogen fertilization. Its high rate of growth in water is amazing without the need to displace existing crops or natural ecological systems.
It has been used for many years throughout Asia and parts of Africa to feed pigs, ducks, chickens, cattle, fish, sheep and goats and rabbits. Azolla is very rich in protein, essential amino acids, vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin B12, Beta Carotene), growth promoter intermediaries and minerals including calcium, phosphorous, potassium, ferrous, copper, magnesium. On a dry weight basis, Azolla has 25-35% protein content, 10-15% mineral content, and 7-10% comprising a combination of amino acids, bio-active substances and biopolymers. Azolla’s carbohydrate and oil content is very low. Azolla is also rich in iron , copper, manganese (120–2700 ppm dry weight), vitamin A (300–600 ppm dry weight.), vitamin A (300–600 ppm dry weigh), chlorophyll and carotenes. It contains 4.8–6.7% dry weight crude fat, with 6.1–7.7% and 12.8– 26.4% total fat for the polyunsaturated acids omega 3 and omega 6 (Paoletti et al., 1987).
Azolla is the most promising aquatic plant for livestock feed due to its ease of cultivation, productivity and nutritive value. Azolla’s use as a feed for fish, swine and poultry was also tested and recommended. One hectare of Azolla can produce 500-700 kg of protein per month. Azolla’s composition therefore makes it one of the most economic and efficient feed substitute for livestock.
Photo credit: www.theazollafoundation.org