Salt licks in Nepal
It is possible to create artificial mineral licks for use with domesticated animals, to improve their
nutritional intake. This brief looks at the process developed within the MASF project to utilise
locally available materials (red mud, egg shells and salt) in Nepal to create a low-cost salt lick, or
‘cow-lollipop’, known in the local language as a ‘Khanij Dikka’.
Cows will natural lick the mineral block when inclined, taking in iron from the red earth, calcium
and phosphorus from egg shells, and iodine, sodium and chlorine from the salt. These are all
essential minerals necessary for the good health of cows and should result in the production of a
good quantity of milk that is high in fat.
How to make a Nepalese Salt Lick for Cows (Khanij Dikka)
1. Take 1 kilogram of that red mud that’s at the back of the homestead;
2. Dry it out in the sun for a couple of days and pound into a powder;
3. Roast 10 egg shells, pound into a powder and add it to the red dirt;
4. Mix this with around 1 kilogram of regular salt, the stuff you can buy at the shop a few doors
5. Add ½ a kilogram of flour to bind the mixture;
6. Finally pour in some water as required until the mixture holds together and can be shaped into
blocks. Shape them into donut shapes (making sure you leave a hole in the middle of the block);
7. Leave to dry for a week in the shade, then another week in the sun until hard;
8. Use the hole in the middle to string the block up in your cow-shed. Make sure that your cow
can reach the block at a stretch, but not easily. String up one of these blocks for each of your
~30 Nepali Rupees (14-16 for salt, 13-15 for flour)
The Khanij Dikka is made from materials that are readily available in Nepal. However, it may be
necessary to use an alternative solution in other environments, particularly where red mud is not
part of the landscape.
In much of the arid landscape of Saharan Africa, cattle feeds are limited to maize stalks, millet
and dry grass, which requires solutions to deliver additional nutrients. An example of this is in
Kenya, where the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) is one of several organisations that
have published guidelines on the production of mineral licks known as ‘urea blocks’. These are
hard blocks that can be made with a number of ingredients (KARI, 2008), (ALIN, 1998):
- Urea: provides fermentable nitrogen, and is the most important part of the block; helps
cattle to digest feeds.
- Molasses: fermentable substrate and various minerals; gives the block an attractive taste
- Wheat or bran: provides structure and nutrients (including fat, protein and phosphorus) to
- Other minerals: Added where appropriate.
- Gelling agent: magnesium oxide, bentonite, calcium oxide, calcium hydroxide and cement
have all been successful. Cement is the most effective and easily available, despite some
concerns over negative health effects.