Vachellia karroo leaf meal: a promising non-conventional feed resource for improving goat production in low-input farming systems of Southern Africa
Among a vast number of forage trees, Vachellia karroo (Acacia karroo) remains one of the most widely distributed indigenous plant legumes in Southern Africa. The plant possesses some striking attributes, such as rapid growth rate, drought tolerance, adaptation to alkaline and acidic sterile soils, and resistance to a variety of edaphic and temperature changes. In past years V. karroo was recognised to be a major threat to rangeland productivity owing to its invasive nature. Research interest has shifted from its eradication as an unwanted plant to its utilisation as a feed resource for livestock. Extensive utilisation of V. karroo is mainly hindered by the presence of tannins and spines. Prospects to lessen the adverse effects of the anti-nutritional influences are now recognised. Vachellia karroo possesses desirable fatty acid profiles, and high protein and mineral contents that can improve animal performance. Presently, the use of V. karroo for goat production in communal areas is restricted owing to limited evidence for its nutritional value as animal feed. The present review, therefore, seeks to demonstrate the utility potential of V. karroo to improve growth performance, carcass characteristics, chevon quality, meat fatty acid profiles and as a natural anti-helminth for goats raised under an extensive system of production.
Keywords: alternative feed resource, dry areas, goat productivity