Performance and Grazing Pattern of West African Dwarf Sheep to seasonally Variable Forage Supply and Quality
Sixty (60) West African Dwarf sheep managed semi intensively and grazing on natural pastures were used in a study to determine the performance and grazing pattern to seasonal forage supply and quality. The animals were allowed to graze for about 6 hours daily for four months each in the dry and wet seasons, respectively. Results showed that field grazing time and active grazing time significantly increased (P<0.05) in the dry season with a corresponding increase in grazing distance traveled while the non active grazing time decreased (P<0.05) in the dry season. Season was observed to affect the forage quality and performance of sheep as the wet season resulted in the production of higher (P<0.05) quality forages compared to the dry season which led to a rapid increase (P<0.05) in the growth performance of the animals. The daily gain in weight (g/day) of the animals during the wet season was higher (P<0.05) relative to the dry season. It was therefore concluded that the performance and grazing pattern of sheep was influenced by season and forage density. Sheep grazing natural pasture should therefore be supplemented with high quality concentrate or/and drought resistance forages for optimum performance during the dry season.
Keywords: Sheep, grazing pattern, performance, forage quality, season