Fodder crops are the plant species that are cultivated and harvested for feeding the animals in the form of forage (cut green and fed fresh), silage (preserved under anaerobic condition) and hay (dehydrated green fodder). The total area under cultivated fodders is 8.3 million ha on individual crop basis. amongst the kharif crops (2.6 million ha) and berseem (Egyptian clover) amongst the rabi crops (1.9 million ha) occupy about 54% of the total cultivated fodder cropped area.

The area under fodder crops has almost remained static for the last 3-4 decades. However, the area under fodder crops has increased in peri-urban areas that have developed as milk sheds under intensive dairy production systems during the past years.

A combination of diversified soil types, wide range of climatic conditions (cloudy to sunshine, hot to cold, dry to rainy) and a large group of forage species suited to different agro-ecological conditions and input situations, makes a congenial environment for intensive forage production programme in our country.

The cultivated fodder crops can be grouped as follows:

Cereal fodders: Cereal fodders and grasses are characteristically determinate in growth habit and their herbage quality starts deteriorating after flowering. Cereal fodders like sorghum, maize, pearl millet and oats.

Provide energy-rich herbage to livestock. These have wider adaptability and variability in terms of growth, regeneration potential, yield and quality of herbage.

Legumes: The word legume is derived from the Latin word "Legre" (to gather) because the pods have to be gathered or picked by hand as distinct from 'reaping' the cereals. The plants belong to family Leguminoseae and having nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots. The leguminous fodders have special significance because of high herbage protein.