Written Paper

Influence of available browse on cattle diets in an Acacia savannah of East Africa  [1984]

Kibet, Philip Kiptorus(Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Nairobi (Kenya). National Agricultural Research Laboratories) Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Nairobi (Kenya). National Agricultural Research Laboratories [Corporate Author]

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A six-month study was conducted in southeastern Kenya to dtermine the influence of varying bush canopy cover on dietary selection and nutrition of mature esophageally fistulated heifers. Replicated moderately stocked paddocks (2.25 ha)each, were grazed one day 28-30 days from june to November, 1982. Treatment paddocks were designated light, modarate and heavy bush conditions with 12.8, 31.5 and 49.8 total canopy cover, respectively. Acacia senegal, cordia ovails and grewia villosa were the primary woody vegataion which created treatment effect. Digitaria macroblephara increased in composition with increasing canopy cover while chloris roxburghiana decreased. Heifer diets were dominated by grass and grasslikes irrespective of seasons. Animals ate more gras, less forbs and least browse across pastures and in all seasons. Animals consumed less grass and grasslike as canopy cover increased. Digitaria macroblephara and chloris roxburghiana dominated animal diets throughout the study. Althogh more than 18 woody species were on offer only three species, Aciai senegal, Hermania alhiensis and Boscia sp. were selected by animals. These species, constituted less than 1% of the animal diets. When green, animals ate commelina benglansis and talinum kafrum forbs along with grasses. Diets during the long dry season were not diverse as for the wet season. Digitaria macroblephara, chloris roxburghiana and sporobolus pellucides were the major grass selected by the heifers,
whwereas Bothrichloa insculpta was least preferred grass. Preference ratios indicted the cttle preferred grass and grasslike, forbs and browse in that order. Boscia sp. was the most preferred browse while Talium kafrum, commelia bengalensis and Asparagus sp. were the most preferred forbs. Although Acacia sp. and Hermania alhiensis dominated the study site, they ranked least in the diet preference order. Further ecological research is needed to determnie the influence ny these woody species on herbage production in order to recommend the economic advantage of these dominant species. All the dietary nutrients met the maintanance requirements of the cattle throughout the study, except for crude protein whcih was defiicient in August ans september. There appears to be potential problem for rumen carbon nitrogen (C:N) balance in cattle due to the relatively high DEvalues in relatin to nitrogen content of the diets.