Banana Peels as Alternate Feed for Dairy Cows

Banana Peels as Cattle Feed

Banana, poor man’s fruit, is an important cash crop worldwide.  In 2017, world banana production was 117 million tons.  With 30 MT production valued at 830 million US$, India ranks number one.  Maharashtra state ranks as the top banana producer in the country followed by Tamil Nadu ((Table 1). As per an estimate 20-35% is wasted due to lower shelf-life and lack of proper storage. Starch extracted from banana has numerous industrial applications, such as, in baby food, textile, pharma products. In India banana wafers, ‘bhujia’ are becoming popular leading to many industrial units using raw/green or ripe banana. Although the pulp is consumed or processed. In several African countries, people eat cooked peels, but in India and other countries, peels are discarded as waste. In this blog, I have addressed the often-asked query, ‘how much banana peels can be safely fed to a cow’.

I will also discuss various methods of long-term preservation as large quantities may be available seasonally. Numerous reports on the feeding of banana peels to livestock have been published since the 1960s. Chemically, peel constitutes around 20 % water, which means 10 kg will supply only 2 kg nutrients. This is however comparable to maize silage.

Ingredients and DM

Nutritional values of Banana Peels

The above tables describe the nutrition values in banana peels published in www.feedipedia.org.   There could be minor variations in local verities and due to factors such as stages of harvesting and ripening. Large-volume users should get locally available peels chemically analyzed for various parameters including, starch, soluble sugar, lignin, and saponin. These tests can be ordered from any nutrition analysis laboratory or a nearby veterinary institute. Please refer to the Directory Section of portal www.indiancattle.com for contact details.

Banana Peel

I have also compared nutritive values of peels with silage in the same table to prove that these could replace fodder or silage in cattle feed. Similar to silage or maize fodder, banana peels are low in protein (around 8%). Hence if peels are a major part of diet then high protein supplements, such as cottonseed cake, chuni should be added.  Since lignin, saponin, oxalate and trace minerals contents are high, cows should never be fed totally on banana peels. A common recommendation is to replace up to 50% of maize/sorghum silage (or green fodder on a DM basis). For example, A cow currently on 30 kg Napier or maize silage or green maize/sorghum fodder (DM 10.5 kg) be fed up to 25 kg peels (5.25 kg on DM basis).

Methods of Feeding Banana Peel

The availability of peels from industries may be in large volume but periodic. Sun-drying is a very cost-effective option in a tropical climate. The advantages of powder are long shelf life and ease of mixing with silage or concentrate feed.  Animals relish the powder compared to fresh peels.  In case large quantity and rapid drying are desired solar driers are another option.

Another preservation method is anaerobic fermentation or ensiling.   The process is similar to the one followed for maize/sorghum or Napier silage.  For proper chaffing of peels into the right size is important.  For this run mixture of fodder and peels in the chaff cutter.   Preparing mixed banana and maize silage by adding both in equal proportion is preferred.  Peels contain around 13 % soluble carbohydrate hence with late-harvested fodder fermentation will be optimum. Even in mixed silage pH is important to prevent spoilage.  Banana peels for silage can also be mixed with low sugar containing sugarcane tops or leafy vegetables.

Recommended Feeding Standards for Banana Peels

In summary, banana peels can be fed as per the recommendations described in the feeding standard table. Be advised, these are maximum limits and it is always wise to feed less than prescribed. In the case of lactating animals especially, the offered peel-mixed feed should be properly balanced for protein, energy, and NDF. If these instructions are followed, feeding processed peels would be an economical option for landless and small-hold farmers.

Please also read the blog on the Feeding of Banana Leaves to Cows by the same author.


Dr. Abdul Samad
M.V.Sc., Ph.D. (Canada)
Dairy Consultant
  1. we fed unripe banana peels, which we collect from near by wafer mfg. Cos. So if possible do advice pros/cons of same. What difference between ripe peels & unripe peels when using as fodder.

    Reply

    1. Dear Vimalji

      Thanks for the email. The process of ripening of any fruit is a result of physio-chemical changes in the fruit. This is also true for banana. From the point of view feeding to livestock an important change is the conversion of starch into free sugar. Green banana peel contains 15% free sugar whereas in ripened state free sugar concentration goes up to 30% (of total carbohydrate content). Free sugar is not good for ruminants as it gets fermented very fast in rumen leading to the formation of acids and disturbing microbial fermentation process and digestion. For this reason, my advice would be to prefer green banana peels over the ripe. I presume from factory green peel would be available and not the ripe one. There are also changes in trace mineral composition, which I would not like to describe here since the blog will become too scientific.

      But in case only ripe peels are available, in that case, to restrict free sugar, reduce feeding proportion to 25% of the total DM instead of a maximum 50% suggested in my blog. One more caution, the ripened banana peel may carry residues of pesticide or ripening chemicals hence peels should be washed (I know it would make peels too messy to handle).
      I recommend that farmers should also do experiments and trials to verify scientific claims. A simple one for you would be feed peels to 3 cows in each group (10, 25 and 50%) in each group or switch over experiment wherein 3 cows be fed first on no peels, 10, 25 and 50% peel (on replacement basis) and compare milk yield and cost. We will be happy to publish your experiences for the larger benefit of other farmers.

      Dr. Abdul Samad

      Reply

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