Maintaining feed supply in dry areas
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CTA. 2006. Maintaining feed supply in dry areas. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57236
Use of Acacia pods as feed, growing forage crops, feed and water for pregnant goats, and checking for mineral deficiencies.
Maintaining feed supply in dry areas Cue: Good feeding is the most important factor in rearing goats. It is essential for good health, good reproduction, high milk yields and high growth rates. Goats enjoy having a varied diet, but this does not mean they will eat anything. In fact they are quite fussy, moving quickly while browsing to select the best available plants and parts of plants, in order to get the best diet they can. Farmers can face a number of problems in providing good feed to their goats. Feeds may have high levels of fibre, but only small amounts of protein and minerals. This reduces the amount the goats will eat, and slows their growth. There may also be a shortage of good quality feed, and of water, during the dry season. To solve this, some farmers grow out of season forage crops, or else store feeds during times of plenty, to feed to their animals later in the year. To find out more about how farmers can provide good feed to their goats, Busani Bafana spoke to Joe Sikosana, head of Zimbabwe?s Matopos Research Institute, and an expert in goat rearing. In particular, Busani wanted to learn what strategies farmers in dry areas, such as Zimbabwe?s Matabeleland, could use to maintain good feeding of their goats throughout the year. IN: ?The farmers can improve the feed ?? OUT: ??a specialist in goat production.? DUR?N 5?20? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Busani Bafana reporting. Those rearing goats should be aware that if they decide to introduce new feeds to their animals, they should do this very gradually. To digest the feed, goats need to build up the correct micro-organisms in their digestive system. Goat owners should only give small amounts of a new feed at first, and slowly increase this amount over several days. The interview came from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Sikosana The farmers can improve the feed supply through various ways. For example, our rangelands are characterised by trees and shrubs. These trees of the Acacia class produce fruits or pods, and these pods normally get ripe during the dry season, and they fall off from the Acacia trees. One can ask what is the value of these Acacia trees? These Acacia trees are rich in proteins, especially the fruits, and the crude protein ranges between 11-18 per cent, and this is equivalent to concentrate feeds which farmers can buy from shops. Those pods can be fed directly to the goats without grinding or milling, but to reduce wastage, I would encourage farmers to mill or use the traditional pestle and mortar system. Bafana What if farmers decide to actually grow the fodder, especially the out of season forage crops. What will be the best plants for them to grow? Sikosana The best plants for them to grow. I will give an example, we have got a special grass which is called Banna grass. This usually thrives under dry conditions. As soon as it establishes, it doesn?t need much moisture. Then we also have trees like the mulberry tree, which every household has got; also that could supply goats with feed, especially the leaves. Then we have got the cactus pear, which can easily be grown in these dry areas, and the pads or leaves can be fed to goats without any problem. Then the other feeds which can be grown, for example crop residues which farmers grow in their fields, can easily be fed to goats, especially groundnut hay, or cowpea hay, or even maize stover. Bafana In the case of farmers who decide to in fact grow the forage, what is the cost effectiveness of actually supplying this forage to the goats? Sikosana It really is not very expensive. It is just a matter of, for instance mulberry trees, it is just a matter of pruning the leaves and feeding them directly to the goats. For the Banna grass, also it is a cut and carry system, which is really not labour intensive. Even for the cactus pear also, it is a cut and carry system, which can not be very expensive for the farmer if you look at the labour inputs. Bafana I would then also want to find out, nutrition is very important, but then there could be problems that are related to nutrient or mineral deficiencies. How easy is it for farmers to identify the mineral deficiencies in their goats, particularly in arid areas like Matabeleland? Sikosana Well it is very difficult, but sometimes a farmer can identify mineral deficiencies by checking the kids which are born by goats. Some can be deformed, this could be another sign of mineral deficiency. But taking the arid regions, I would say they are very rich in mineral contents which are suitable for goats or any other livestock. Bafana Is it the mineral deficiencies we are talking about only, or could there also be a lack of a certain type of food? Sikosana If we take, for example, a female goat which is pregnant. During pregnancy it will need some food with high protein so as to help it to be able to produce enough milk during lactation period. And I think protein and energy are very important for goats and the animal can get those from the proper feeds, especially the Acacia pods can supply enough of that. Bafana The timing of mating and birthing is important. I would want to find out how important is the access to water for the nannies? Sikosana The nannies, really I will say water is very important, they will need water on a daily basis for them to supply enough milk and be able to have good health. And I will say a goat will need almost around 5 litres a day, and they need to be watered daily. Bafana In Zimbabwe, goat farmers have developed a security strategy for their assets. Mr Sikosana, please share this with our listeners. Sikosana Yes, goat farmers have a developed a strategy in protecting their goats. I think people are quite aware that stock theft is very rife in these communal areas. What certain farmers have done, is that they have started raising dog puppies with their goats. What they do, these dogs are fed with goat milk in the kraals, and they stay with the goats in the kraals until they are able to walk around with the goats in the grazing areas. This has worked very well, and these dogs are very protective and fearless, and they won?t allow any stranger to get into a goat flock who is not known. Bafana There you are listeners, an innovation by goat farmers in Zimbabwe. I was speaking to Mr Joe Sikosana, who is the head of the Matopos Research Station, and a specialist in goat production. End of track.
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