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Home Farming Tips Indigenous Fodder Trees And Shrubs As Livestock Feed

Indigenous Fodder Trees And Shrubs As Livestock Feed

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Indigenous fodder trees and shrubs (IFTS) can play an important role in bridging the gap in fodder supply during the critical dry months in Uganda. Being perennials, IFTS are able to withstand prolonged periods of moisture stress than grasses and herbaceous forage legumes such as Lablab. In many parts of Uganda, IFTS are the only source of green forage available during the dry season. In addition, many fodder trees and shrubs have high nutrient value that supplement the often-poor quality grasses and crop residues, the normal dry season feeds. The protein content of most IFTS is higher than 15 percent, compared to that of grasses (less than 12 percent). It is also higher than the required 13-16 percent of a cow and goat diet. When compared to the recommended rations of minerals, Calcium and Phosphorus, majority of the species sufficiently provide these minerals. Livestock owe their continuing good health, or indeed survival, to IFTS supplements. Many IFTS are valuable feed resources for goats.

Due to shortages of other feeds, loping is done during the dry season, thus providing a green supplement. It is estimated that IFTS contribute over 15 percent of the total diet during the dry season. However, very little IFTS is fed to goats during the wet season because there is plenty of green fodder.

IFTS are normally fed to livestock once a day in the afternoon. For the rest of the day, the animals should feed on other grasses (Signal grass; Giant Guinea grass, Rhodes grass, Napier grass), crop residues or they are allowed to graze. The frequency of harvesting from the trees depends on the species and the season. Most trees are harvested every 90 days during the wet season and every 4-6 months during the dry season.

Freely grazing or browsing goats will eat twigs, leaves, young shoots, and fruits of these plants. In most areas intensification of production systems means forage is brought to confined animals. In these systems, farmers harvest the edible parts (soft branches or top twigs pollarded or pruned) of IFTS and feed them to animals along with grass and other forages.

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