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By 2025, it is expected that cities and urban centres across the world will generate over 2.8 billion tonnes of waste, of which 1 per cent will be market waste.

A recent study in one of the big markets in Nairobi showed that 67 per cent of the marketโ€™s waste is organic while the other is plastic bags (27 per cent) and sacks (8 per cent).

This is a common scenario in most markets across the country. To cut costs, most farmers go for the organic matter from the market to feed their cattle, chickens, goats and sheep.

But even as they feed their animals the waste, farmers must strive to keep diseases at bay. So here is what, when, how, how much and who is to feed livestock with market waste.

Fresh produce is never expected to go to waste at most markets, but during transportation and handling, some produce gets spoilt. In other instances, the supply is higher than demand thus the goods get spoilt.

Market waste also arises from produce packaging and coverings such as bananas leaves that are used to cover various crops and maize peels that are removed at the selling stage.

In the above mentioned study, fruits such as mangoes, watermelons, avocados, oranges and pineapples constituted the bulk of the waste (34 per cent). This was followed by vegetables (33 per cent) that included spinach, sukuma wiki, carrots, maize peelings and potatoes.

If poorly managed, market waste can be an eyesore, causing environmental pollution. It also becomes a breeding ground for rodents, and source of diseases such as those transmitted by rodents.

The 3R principal of waste management state that waste should be reduced, re-used and or recycled. Thus, feeding animals the waste is a way of reducing it and recycling nutrients.

What not to feed

It is assumed that animals can consume any crop material from the market, but this is not the case as some cause health problems in some livestock.

a) Avocados

Consumption of avocado has been associated with heart muscle problem in many animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, rabbits, pigs and ostriches. Chicken and turkeys are somehow resistant. Avocado consumption is also associated with mastitis.

b) Watermelon

A study carried out to evaluate the effects of varying amounts of melon with high sugar content offered to sheep without prior experience and which were not adapted to eating the fruit indicated that the animals developed a condition known as lactic acidosis, a state that affects ruminant animals like sheep, cattle and goats.

This condition is common in urban and peri-urban areas where farmers report diarrhoea in animals that are not responsive to medication. Watermelon should, therefore, be fed in moderation to ruminant animals.

c) Onions and garlic

Onions and to a small extent garlic contain a chemical known as thiosulphate, which destroys red blood cells especially in chickens. It is, therefore, not advisable to feed chickens onion waste but once powdered, garlic can offer health benefits. Onions are also not recommended for milking animals as the smell permeates into milk.

d) Tomatoes

Tomatoes are highly perishable and prone to fungal infection. Further, unripe tomatoes contain a toxic chemical known as solanine. Mouldy and green tomatoes should, therefore, not be fed to animals.

e) Potatoes

Cook potatoes before feeding them to pigs and chickens. They must be chopped first to avoid suffocation of ruminant animals. Potatoes that have gone green are also toxic

f) Carbohydrates

When fed in large amounts, feed materials like maize and potatoes that are high in easily digestible carbohydrates cause a severe metabolic disease known as lactic acidosis.

g) Sweet potatoes

When cattle consume sweet potatoes that are rotten or affected by moulds, they develop respiratory problems.

h) Mango seeds

Mango seeds contain tannins and cyanide which is destroyed by boiling.

How to feed

Ensure that the materials are not contaminated with chemicals such as fumigants and disinfectants, more so during this Covid-19 season when a lot of public health activities are taking place.

Sort them to remove dangerous materials such as plastics, stones and sharp objects and chop them into desirable sizes as per the target animal. Dry/wilt the materials under the sun for a day or two to increase the dry matter content and avoid bloating of ruminant animals. The materials can then be fed to animals and excesses can be conserved by more drying or making silage.

How much to feed

Use 90/10 rule to feed market waste to animals, where 90 per cent is the normal feed and 10 per cent is the market treat.

Who should offer the feeds

Adults or children under supervision so that in case of any trouble, the animal can be attended to.

When to feed

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