Lollipops for cows

A locally appropriate, low cost answer to cattle malnutrition …

Cow licking a mineral bloc, Chitwan, Nepal

1. Take 1 kilogram of that red mud that’s at the back of the homestead;

2. Dry it out in the sun for a couple of days and pound into a powder;

3. Roast 10 egg shells (just the shells – eat the contents youself with your family), pound into a powder and add it to the red dirt;

4. Mix this with around 1 kilogram of regular salt, the stuff you can buy at the shop a few doors down;

5. Add 1/2 a kilogram of flour to bind the mixture;

6. Finally pour in some water as required until the mixture holds together and can be shaped into blocks. Shape them into donut shapes (making sure you leave a hole in the middle of the block);

7. Leave to dry for a week in the shade, then another week in the sun until hard;

A local breed cow using a mineral block in Chitwan, Nepal

8. Use the hole in the middle to string the block up in your cow-shed. Make sure that your cow can reach the block at a stretch, but not easily. String up one of these blocks for each of your cows.

That’s how you make a Nepali Khanij Dikka, a mineral block. It’ll cost you around 30 Nepali Rupees (22 – 28 pence) to make a block that weighs 2.5 kilograms. That cost comes from 14 – 16 Rupees for the salt and 13 – 15 Rupees for the flour. Obviously the red mud is free, and you’re probably eating eggs so those shells are a free by-product. Each block will last one cow for about a month.

Your cows will natural lick the mineral block when inclined, taking in iron from the red earth, calcium and phosphorus from the egg shells, and iodine, sodium and chlorine from the salt. These are all essential minerals necessary for the good health of your cows and so that your cows produce a good quantity of milk that is high in fat!

Thanks to Prakash Poudel, Dairy and Livestock Specialist on the Market Access for Smallholder Farmers (MASF) project, for providing all the technical input for this post!

P.S. Read my recent blog about why Practical Action Nepal is working in the dairy sector and what it is doing to help farmers improve the nutrition of their cows so that they can produce milk of appropriate quality and in large enough quantities to attract commercial buyers.

Some 'improved' breed cows in a model cow-shed

8 responses to “Lollipops for cows”

  1. luis Says:

    i like this blog, is there any other recipe and you can change the red soil. If we dont have red soil what other ingredient can be used for Iron supplement.

  2. Practical Action Blogs - Blog Archive » Schumacher and engineering at the British Science Festival| Practical Action Says:

    […] to a range of Practical Action’s work and they were particulaly intrigued by the recipe for lollipops for cows and growing pumpkins on sandbars in […]

  3. Binod Says:

    very effective low cost and local solutions for the malnutrition problems of cows. Other cattles such as buffaloes should also be considered as they are also largely used for milk production in Nepal. Further, farmers in Nepal are keeping only 1-2 cows, just to live their life. If cattle rearing is professionally done, then it can already improve the earning of these poor people.

  4. ken hargesheimer Says:

    My BS is in dairy farming. I have been on dairies in several countries including India. Low milk yield is due to low feed input. They cannot get more milk out of the rear of the cow that the quality of feed they put in the front. Never feed stalks or straw; no food value. 0.

    Ken Hargesheimer, minifarms@gmail.com

  5. Alexis Morcrette Says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone! For those of you interested in the technical details of other environmentally friendly and low cost animal health solutions and other appropriate technology, search for what you are looking for in Practical Action’s vast technical information library: Practical Answers – http://practicalaction.org/practicalanswers/?url=practicalanswers

  6. Gokarna Mainali Says:

    Although i don have any livestocks, my neighbour were happy to know this and were happy. Thanx to practical action 😀

  7. Nabraj Acharya Says:

    Thank you very much for giving this wonderful information about mineral block. Kindly advice any other thing instead of red mud, because it is not available in our area. And can it be utilize for bufello and goat for better production of milk and meat.

  8. Neil Noble Says:

    There is an alternative recipe from the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute on the technical brief http://practicalaction.org/salt-licks-in-nepal

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