Nutrient digestibility and blood parameters ofWest African dwarf sheep fed sugarcane top silage
Nutritive value of low quality crop residues is improved with addition of protein–rich byproducts (poultry litter) or chemical compounds (urea) and can serve as feed resource to ruminant during the dry season. This study investigated the nutrient digestibility and blood parameters of West African dwarf (WAD) sheep fed sugarcane top silage. Sugarcane tops were ensiled alone (control) or with 2% urea (USCT silage), 45% boiler litter (BLSCT silage) and 1% urea plus 22.5% broiler litter (UBLSCT) for 42 days. Each silage treatment contains 2% molasses. Twenty-four female West African dwarf sheep of 6-8 months of age, weighing 14.58±1.16kg were randomly assigned to the four silage treatments of six animals each in a completely randomised design for 84 days. Chemical composition of the silages was determined. Performance characteristics, apparent nutrient digestibility and blood parameters of the WAD sheep were evaluated. All data were subjected to one way Analysis of Variance. Results showed that animals fed BLSCT had significantly highest (P<0.05) total dry matter intake (64.26g/kgW0.75) and daily weight gain (46.03 g/day) followed by those on UBLSCT and USCT while animals fed control diet recorded the least with highest feed conversion ratio (20.62). Digestibility of all nutrients was highest (P<0.05) in sheep fed BLSCT (71.43%,71.16%, 75.66%, 64.35% and 56.82%for dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, NDF and ADF digestibility respectively) and lowest (55.71%, 57.31%, 59.98%, 39.47%and 46.92% for dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, NDF and ADF digestibility respectively ) in those on control diet. Similarly, sheep fed BLSCT recorded significant highest (P<0.05) packed cell volume (32.17%), haemoglobin (10.82g/dL) and red blood cell (13.43 x10 /L). The serum glucose, total protein, albumin, globulin and blood urea concentration were similar (P>0.05) but higher in animals fed BLSCT (3.94mmol/L, 71.80 g/L, 37.00 g/L, 34.80 g/L and 130.55mg/L, respectively)USCT (3.83mmol/L, 71.50 g/L, 35.0 g/L, 36.50 g/L and 140.65 mg/L respectively) and UBLSCT (3.75 mmol/L, 71.20 g/L, 34.50g/L, 36.70 g/L and 120.90 mg/L, respectively) compared to control. The study concluded that SCT treated with urea or broiler litter or their combination (UBLSCT) ensiled for 42 days could be fed to ruminant during long dry season without any detrimental effect on the health of the animals.