Azolla (Azolla pinnata X Anabaena azollae)
Local Name: Azolla
Azolla is a floating fern mostly utilized as bio- fertilizer for wetland paddy. It belongs to the family of Azollaceae. The fern Azolla, hosts a symbiotic blue green algae Anabaena azollae, which is responsible for the fixation and assimilation of atmospheric nitrogen. Azolla was found to be a very nutritive and cheap organic feed substitute for dairy cattle.
Azolla is rich in protein, almost 20-25% CP on dry weight basis. It is also found to contain essential minerals like Iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese etc. apart from appreciable quantities of vitamin A and vitamin B12. It is also found to contain almost all the essential amino acids, many probiotics, bio-polymers and beta carotene.
The above mentioned bio-chemical constitution along with the rapid multiplication rate makes azolla an ideal organic feed substitute for livestock. Livestock can easily digest azolla due to its high protein content and low lignin content. Fresh azolla can be mixed with commercial feed in the ratio 1:1 or given directly to livestock. It was found that the milk production in cattle increased by 10-12% when they were fed with azolla. It is also found that azolla feeding improve the quality of milk.