Effects of Supplementation with Forage Resources from Natural Pasture on the Growth Performance and Ruminal Fermentation of Grazing Calves in Dry Season.
The feeding value of forage resources from the natural pasture as dry season feed supplements for grazing calves was evaluated. Sixteen cross bred calves (White Fulani X ’dama) with initial body weights of 82.5-87.0 kg were grouped into four treatments with four animals per treatment. The treatments consist of sole grazing (SG) in the natural pasture, grazing + hay (G+H), grazing + Leucaena leucocephala leaves (G+LL) and grazing + silage (G+S). The study lasted for 84 days growth trial and 7 days digestibility trial. Rumen fluid was sampled at the end for pH, ammonia nitrogen and volatile fatty acids determination. Average daily gain (2.2, 7.5, 9.5 and 8.5 kg) for SG, G+H, G+LL and G+S, respectively (P < 0.05) among treatments. Ruminal ammonia concentration was in the order of G+LL> G+S> G+H and SG (P < 0.05). The study showed that all the grazing animals that were supplemented increased in weight and had better rumen fermentation, indicating relatively better feeding value. Hence resources from natural pastures, if well managed in form of hay and silage, can be good supplements especially in the dry season when forages in most pastures are in short supply and low in quality.
Keywords: Natural pasture; Leucaena leucocephala leaves; hay; silage; rumen parameters.
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