Changes in Yield and Chemical Composition of Standing and Conserved Forage During the Dry Season in East Central Nigeria
The results of proximate analysis of five tropical forage species and two forms of conserved forage over sampling period of 147 days of the dry season are presented. Three plots of Panicum maximum (Guinea grass) one plot of Cynodon nlemfuensis (giant star grass) and one plot of Centrosema pubescens (centro) were used as sample plots.
Trends indicated in the results suggest a general decline in crude protein, ether extract, dry matter yields and ash, and a progressive increase in crude fibre, dry matter content and nitrogen free extract from the conset of the dry season in early November to the first rains in March in the next year; when trends were reversed. In the standing forage samples the mean values of the species were significantly different in all proximate constituents. These differences were generally higher between grass and centrosema than among grasses. There were also significant periodic effects between sampling dates for all chemical constituents except ash which showed no significant periodic effect at 5% level. These differences were concentrated mainly within the first few weeks of dry season. The mean crude protein values of grasses and grass silage during most of the dry season period fell substantially below the 6% level which is considered the minimum value for maintenance of Nigerian indigenous Fulani cattle. Dry season grass pasture and grass silage should therefore be supplemented for protein as from late November. Where legume pasture or hay is available and constitutes up to 20% of hte roughage ration, supplementation does not appear to be necessary for maintenance of cattle until late December, under Nsukka conditions.