Block technology

Lick Block Technology - A New Tool For Feeding

Published on: 12/7/2011


Feeding has been evolved to be an important tool to in feeding to support animal production. When the production enhancement was considered a task in animal industry balanced animal rations were developed. The ration consists of forages, grain, protein meals and other concentrate feeds. The above ration may contain elements required and not required by the animal. It was arduous to separate the not required elements which may require sophisticated process engineering which may increase the ration cost significantly. In the above process animal fails to use its natural instinct to find and eat its required elements. Therefore the not required elements were consumed and later voided as ding.

The natural instinct of the animal to sense nitrogen and consume to meet its nutritional requirement was studied by using urea molasses block in sheep (PJG Kunju 1981). It is shown below:

The sheep licked the molasses block when the rumen ammonia level ped to 50 mg/L and stopped licking when the level was around 200mg/L. That confirms the animal's capacity to sense ammonia and consume as per its requirement. The above capability of the animal is exploited to develop the lick block technology.

It was known in ancient times that the animal physicians in Egypt had developed calcium blocks to dispense medicaments for animals. The calcium sulphate blocks were used in South Africa also.

The major differences between feeding and licking technologies are given below:



Consume in total

Consume as per the need

Consists of required and non required elements

Only required elements

Nutrients availability depends on digestibility

The ingredients are highly digestible

Around 40% feed is voided

Totally absorbed

Wastages are more

No wastages

Only a portion could be rumen bypass

Keeping the lick at higher place to enable cow to lick by head up position may induce esophageal groove to open to abomasum


Production largely depend on feed intake

Offset nutritional shortages

Lick Blocks Development & Uses

Salt Blocks were widely used in the last century. Since sodium chloride stimulates the appetite of the animal it was welcomed by farmers. Also it prevented the wishes of eating to some extend. Along with salt blocks mineral blocks also were evolved. While researching into the possibility of crop residue utilization which was the main stay of the ration in developing countries urea treatment was developed. This paved way to the development of urea molasses block. While UMB was developed with a process of engineering approach in NDDB. India (PJG Kunju, AK Mehta & MR Garg 1983 Indian Patents) FAO gave a farmer's non technical approach. Therefore two process as hot and clod process were evolved. Since NDDB decided to economize the product the hot process was abandoned. The feed technology theories that urea could be dissolved in molasses at 70 degree C was ignored and mixed with molasses and solidified with the action of gelling agents like CaO, cement or bentonite. The proper designing of the lick block plant to bring down 20% moisture by scraped heating of molasses and mixing the dry materials to dryness could make a hard, lickable block of non hygroscopy.

The evolution of UMB opened a way for the development of several lick blocks with different nutritional functions. Therefore the lick blocks such as energy blocks, protein blocks, sugar blocks, broiler goat blocks and calf maker blocks were developed. In addition to that several specialized blocks as medicated blocks, horse, camel, rabbit and ostrich blocks were developed as per the demand of the market.

Looking to the great nutritional benefits of lick block technology it is perceived that lick blocks could be the future tool for feeding to support the animal production.

Dr. George K John graduated in 1967 on Bachelor of Veterinary Science from University of Kerala, India. He then began to work as a veterinary officer at Amul dairy, the largest dairy cooperative in Asia. He carried out extensive research in rumen manipulation and bypass protein after his post graduation from University of New England, Australia. He developed Urea Molasses Block, bypass protein feed, broiler goat and several feed supplements. Currently he is actively engaged in freelance consultancy to feed plants, Livestock farms, universities in India and abroad.
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