Yield and nutrient composition of fertilized maize as fodder for ruminant production
Maize plant generates a lot of underutilized leaves which if properly harnessed can be cheaper source of nutrients for cattle, sheep and goat production, thereby improving the challenges of dry season feed shortages. In the study, the fodder yield and the nutritive value of fertilized maize were investigated as feedstuff for ruminant production. Six treatments comprised of maize fertilized with cattle, sheep, swine and poultry manures, NPK and the control were arranged in a randomized complete block design with five replicates in a field study in the early and late cropping seasons. Parameters on chemical composition, leaf and grain yield as well as plant height were determined. Results showed that crude protein content ranged from 10.08 ± 0.70 to 12.48 ± 0.82% with manure fertilized maize leaves having the highest (P < 0.05) values in both seasons. The neutral detergent and acid detergent fibre contents ranked the same statistically (P > 0.05) across fertilized maize with values ranging from 53.70 ± 0.81 to 59.90 ± 0.83% and 33.70 ± 0.60 to 37.32 ± 0.63%,respectively. Acid detergent lignin varied (P < 0.05) and ranged from 5.01 ± 0.25 to 8.82 ±
0.31% across treatments. Leaf yield and yield components were also higher in manure fertilized maize compared to maize fertilized with NPK and the control. Leaf yield ranged from 883.33 to 1113.24 kg DM/ha with maize fertilized with sheep manure having the highest values in the early season. It can be concluded that animal manures have excellent potential to increase fodder yield and nutrient composition of maize plants.
Keywords: Maize crop, fodder yield, nutrient composition, livestock manure application