Performance and digestibility of N'Dama cattle fed concentrate diets containing varying levels of corncob
One possible way to mitigate the scarcity of quality feedstuffs during the dry season is to explore alternative feed resources. This reduces the cost of animal production without a decrease in productivity. Corncob is one of the crop residues that are available during the dry season with large biomass. Four N'Dama heifers of 1 year old with weight range between 70.4 and 71.2 Kg live weight were used to evaluate the effects of feeding concentrate containing corncob in varying proportions in combination with guinea grass (Panicum maximum) as the basal diet in a replicated 4 x 4 Latin Square design. Diets were formulated to consist of 0 % corncob (T1), 25 % corncob (T2), 50 % corncob (T3) and 75 % corncob (T4) inclusion levels in combination with maize, wheat offal, corn bran and palm kernel cake. Parameters such as feed intake and weight changes were monitored for 56 days. Crude protein, ash and Neutral detergent fibre contents of the formulated diets were 16.7-18.4 g/100g DM, 5.0 – 6.9 g/100g DM and 49.0 – 57.2 g/100g DM respectively. The cattle on T4 had the least dry matter intake of 96.8 g/KgW0.75 while the crude protein intake ranged from 12.8 g/KgW0.75.d-1 in the heifer fed T4 to 24.0 g/KgW0.75.d-1 in heifer fed T1. Similar trend was observed in the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) having values between 6.3 and 12.9. The crude protein digestibility was between 76.9 % and 87.3 %; digestible and metabolizable energy of diets were 24.6 MJ/Kg DM and 19.7 MJ/Kg DM respectively. Weight gain was highest (512.3 g/day) in heifers fed diet 2 which contain 25% inclusion of corncob while the least value of 185.7 g/day was observed in heifers fed diet 4. This study revealed that heifers fed compounded ration containing 25% corncob would perform optimally.
Keywords: Corncob, digestibility, Intake, N'Dama heifers, performance