Performance of sheep grazing Panicum maximum cv. Massai and supplemented with protein sources during the dry season
The low quality of tropical grasses in the dry season justifies the use of dietary supplements to meet the nutritional needs of sheep. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of supplementation with high-protein feed on mutton sheep performance and yield in Massai grass pastures during the dry season. The treatments corresponded to four supplements, namely Leucaena leucocephala leaf hay, Gliricidia sepium leaf hay, soybean meal, and a treatment that received only multiple mixture (protein salt) ad libitum. The pasture was evaluated for canopy height, forage supply, and chemical composition of leaf blade, stem and dead material. Average daily gain, weight gain per area, and the stocking rate were also evaluated. There were four grazing cycles because the grazing method was rotational stocking with seven days of occupation and 35 days of rest. The interaction between supplements and grazing cycles was not significant, and no effects of the supplements were found for any of the variables. The highest forage and leaf blade offerings were observed in the first grazing cycle. The highest levels of crude protein and lower neutral detergent fibre and lignin of pasture components were observed in cycles 3 and 4. The highest average daily gains per animal and per area were observed in cycles 1 and 2. Protein supplementation of sheep in Massai grass pastures promotes satisfactory gains during the dry season, and Leucaena and Gliricidia hays can be used as protein sources instead of soybean meal.
Keywords: Gliricidia sepium, leguminous, Leucaena leucocephala, pasture