Feeding Acacia etbaica and Dichrostachys cinerea fruits to smallholder goats in northern Ethiopia improves their performance during the dry season
Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Aas, Norway; Department of Animal, Rangeland, and Wildlife Sciences, Mekelle University, P.O. Box 231, Mekelle, Ethiopia; Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Aas, Norway
Acacia etbaica Schweinf. and Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wight et Arn. are among the common woody browse plants that naturally grow in many arid and semi-arid rangelands in sub Saharan Africa. An experiment was conducted to compare the voluntary dry matter intake, body weight gain, nitrogen balance, carcass composition and sensory attributes of goats supplemented with different levels of A. etbaica and D. cinerea fruits. Average initial body weight of the goats was 20.4 kg (± 0.8SE) and received one of the following fruit supplementation regimes for 120 days (on body weight basis, n = 4 goats per group): (1) Control, no supplement; (2) 0.5% of A. etbaica; (3) 0.5% of D. cinerea; (4) 1.0% of A. etbaica; (5) 1.0% of D. cinerea; (6) 1.5% of A. etbaica; (7) 1.5% of D. cinerea. All groups were allowed to graze/browse during the day. Compared to A. etbaica, D. cinerea fruits contained higher amounts of crude protein (182 vs 135 g/kg DM), metabolizable energy (11 vs 8.4 MJ/kg DM), and in vitro dry matter digestibility coefficient (0.7 vs 0.6). The concentrations of acid detergent fiber (ADF), sulphuric acid solubulized lignin, and tannin (soluble and condensed) were lower (P < 0.05) in D. cinerea than in A. etbaica fruits. A. etbaica fruits, however, contained higher amounts of Na, K, Fe, and Zn concentrations than D. cinerea fruits. Dry matter intake was markedly higher in supplemented groups than in the control group without supplement. Similarly, body weight gain in the control group was negative and lower (P < 0.05) than any of the supplemented groups. During the course of the experimental period (120 days) the group placed in the 1.5% D. cinerea fruit diet gained 2.6 kg whereas the control group lost 2.0 kg. Thus, the difference between these two groups was 4.6 kg, which suggests about 22.5% increment of the goats' initial body weight. N retention was negative for the control group and varied little among the remaining treatment groups. Dressing percent increased with increased level of either type of fruit supplement, the highest (51.8%) being achieved at the 1.5% D. cinerea level. There was no difference in bone tissue across treatment groups. D. cinerea fruit intake also resulted in juicy/watery flavor and tender carcass. D. cinerea fruits appeared to have no adverse effects when included at the highest level (1.5%) and could be collected and stored as dry season supplement to smallholder goats. This study shows that poor farmers can increase goat performance substantially through supplement feeding with wild fruits. Areas in Ethiopia originally set aside for provision of ecological services and biodiversity protection can also be used for wild fruit production and feeding of small stock. The effect of increasing D. cinerea fruits above the 1.5% body weight level should be a focus of future investigation. Further work on deactivation mechanism of tannins is required for A. etbaica fruits included at levels higher than 1.0%. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Acacia; Acacia etbaica; Capra hircus; Dichrostachys cinerea