Animal feed from cardboard boxes

25 October 2017 | Agriculture

A food technologist conducting a study on manufacturing animal feed from discarded cardboard boxes says the study is in its final stage and is showing encouraging results.

Roderick Haraseb, under the supervision of a state veterinarian, started the research in May this year with funding from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.

According to the Oshikuku Town Council's local economic development officer, John Siloiso, the research is aimed at establishing whether animal feed can be made from boxes.

The initiative is technically supported by the Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.

Depending on the results of the study, a factory will be established at Oshikuku.

“We already established that the feed we are producing is able to nourish the animals better than grass and lucerne only. The weight recording has proven that animals have improved while we are feeding them,” Haraseb said.

Haraseb said he came across northern farmers feeding their cattle cardboard boxes in 2014. He took samples of the boxes to a laboratory to establish their nutritional value.

“The laboratory tests established that cardboard boxes have natural components of plants in them. They are low in protein and vitamins, but high in fibre. The tests also indicated that cardboard can be made highly nutritious by mixing it with other ingredients and using it as supplementary feeding,” Haraseb said.

According to him, his product might be a lifesaver during droughts when thousands of animals die due to pasture scarcity.

Boxes are collected, sorted and treated to remove dyes and labels. Then they are crushed and the pulp is mixed with nutrients and dried in the sun. This mixture can be made into biscuits, granules or pellets.

“Boxes are many in the area and we will be able to produce animal feed all season, instead of animals only having enough pasture during the rainy season when the grass is green,” Haraseb said. Four young people from Oshikuku are employed as research assistants and according to Haraseb they are also being trained to become employees at the future manufacturing plant.

The research animals are separated and some strictly fed with grass and lucerne, while others receive the new feed only. These animals are regularly weighed to monitor the effects of using the new feed.

Haraseb, a food technology graduate of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, has been working on the feed, improving the formula all the time and sending samples to South Africa for tests.

He sources the ingredients that he mixes with the cardboard from South Africa.

He did not want to reveal the recipe, though, saying he had changed the formula 11 times to achieve the desired outcome.

“We are testing the feeds that we are producing against lucerne and grass.

We have four cattle and four goats that are involved in the tests. Two goats and two cattle are fed with the feed products we are producing, while the other two are fed lucerne and grass only,” Haraseb said.

A state veterinarian visits the site every week to monitor the condition of the animals.

The research project will run until the end of November. All the animals will be slaughtered to determine their meat quality.

ILENI NANDJATO

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