Goat feeds and feeding practises in a semi-arid smallholder farming system in Zimbabwe

Keywords: diversity, feed, goats, rangeland, supplementation

Abstract

This study was conducted to identify the available goat feed resources for smallholder farmers in the semi-arid region of Zimbabwe. An ecological rangeland assessment was combined with participatory research methods to determine the diversity of feed resources in two wards of the Beitbridge District, namely Chamunangana and Joko. One hundred and twenty households were surveyed. All farmers depended on rangeland as the main feed resource. Some 87% of the respondents indicated that rangeland was not adequate, yet only 54% practiced supplementation. Participants predominantly used crop residues (40%), browse tree foliage (28%) and commercial feeds (22%) as supplements. Of the 46% who did not apply supplements, 53% attributed this to unavailability of feeding material and 29% were not aware of the importance, whereas the rest thought it unnecessary. Farmers in Chamunangana and those who milked their goats were more likely to supplement feed (p < 0.05). Respondents who supplemented had received training in goat husbandry (p < 0.05). The Shannon–Wiener diversity index (H′) was higher in Chamunangana (1.29), compared with Joko (1.19). There was no difference in biomass production between the study sites (p > 0.05). Improved goat nutrition could be achieved through farmer trainings in goat husbandry and incorporating available feeds into balanced rations.

Published
2021-12-13

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1727-9380
print ISSN: 1022-0119