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Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Gusha J.,University of Zimbabwe | Katsande S.,University of Zimbabwe | Zvinorova P.I.,Makoholi Research Institute | Chiuta T.,University of Zimbabwe
Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems | Year: 2015

Performance of animals in smallholder farming systems is hindered by feed availability and feed costs that make up 60-70% of total variable cost in a farming system. The use of non-conventional feedstuffs is an alternative which can be adopted to minimize feeding costs. The study was conducted to evaluate performance of animals fed with supplements formulated on-farm in comparison with a commercial prepared supplement. Thirty Mashona cows were grouped according to age and subjected to five treatments, given twice a week from the 1st of September until 31st December for three subsequent years. The five treatment diets, beef survival meal (BSM), urea treated maize stover (UTS), Leucaena leucocephala meal (LLM), mixed forage meal (MFM) and natural pastures (NP) were randomly assigned to cows in a complete randomised design (CRD). Average weight gains were determined. Performance in the first year was not significantly different across treatments. In the subsequent years, performance remained low in the NP. Average weight gains increased in the second and third years and was significantly different across treatments (P<0.05). Performance of animals supplemented with non-conventional feed was comparable to those offered commercial BFM; hence LLM and UTS can be used as alternative protein supplements especially in resource-constrained farming systems. Source

Gusha J.,University of Zimbabwe | Katsande S.,University of Zimbabwe | Zvinorova P.I.,University of Zimbabwe | Halimani T.E.,University of Zimbabwe | Chiuta T.,Makoholi Research Institute
Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition | Year: 2015

Farmers use different non-conventional protein supplements and different feeding strategies to aid their animals survive the dry season in Zimbabwe. The strategies can be giving supplements once a week or once every other day up to very little supplement daily. Supplements are either legume crop residues or forage legumes. However, the efficacy of the use of non-conventional protein supplements in promoting growth and at the same time lowering the age at first calving is little understood. The study tested whether supplementing with farm-formulated non-conventional feeds could reduce live weight loss during the dry season and promote live weight gain as well as early development of sexual maturity in beef cattle. In a completely randomized design, thirty dams with calves on hooves were allocated to five different treatments which were repeated during the dry season for 3 years. The 3-year study results show that weight loss can be controlled, resulting in positive growth in both the pre-weaning and post-weaning phases of growing cattle. Yearlings fed solely on natural pasture lost significant weight during the dry season as compared to supplemented groups. The period to puberty and first calving was achieved at 18 and 27 months, respectively. Using non-conventional protein supplements could thus improve livestock productivity in resource-poor farming communities. It was concluded that smallholder farmers can supplement cattle with a kilogram per day of low-cost farm-based non-conventional legume meal to improve livestock productivity in semi-arid regions of Zimbabwe. © 2015 Blackwell Verlag GmbH. Source

Gusha J.,University of Zimbabwe | Halimani T.E.,University of Zimbabwe | Ngongoni N.T.,University of Zimbabwe | Ncube S.,Makoholi Research Institute
Animal Feed Science and Technology | Year: 2015

The effect of co-ensiling Opuntia ficus indica with dry forage legumes on dry matter intake, digestibility, nitrogen retention and overall performance of kapaters was investigated. The treatment diets were Cactus-Acacia angusitissima silage (CAAS), Cactus-Leuceana leucocephala silage (CLLS), Cactus-Calliandra calothyrsus silage (CCCS), Cactus-Macroptilium atropuprium silage (CMAS) and a negative control of Pennisetum purpureum (PP) hay which was also fed as a basal diet to all other animals. Thirty, one-year old kapaters of mean (±SD) weight of 22.6. kg (±5.41) were assigned to the five treatments in a completely randomised design. The goats were individually housed in metabolism cages for a period of twenty-one days adaptation and seven-days of total urine and faecal collection. The results showed a significantly (P<0.05) higher dry matter intake (DMI), organic matter intake and digestibility of organic matter (DOM) in goats fed cactus-forage legume silages diets than those fed Pennisetum purpureum hay alone. Mixed silages DMI ranged from 0.72 to 0.81. kg/day and 0.42 to 0.50 DOM. The calculated microbial protein yield was highest in the CLLS group and lowest in the PP group. These trends are also reflected in the nitrogen intake (NI) and retention with CLLS (NI = 16. g/day, N retained = 13.54. g/day) showing the highest values and CMAS (NI = 9.02. g/day, N retained = 6.11. g/day) having the least among the silage supplemented goats. The PP fed goats had the least intake and a marginally negative nitrogen balance. Daily live weight gain was low (<100. g/day) for all the diets. The Pennisetum purpureum group had a negative weight gain throughout the period. The resultant silages can improve animal performance especially during times of nutritional stress. We concluded that mixed cactus legumes silage can be used as supplements in periods of feed deficits to improve goat performance and communal livelihood. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source

Mudzengi C.,Makoholi Research Institute | Kativu S.,University of Zimbabwe | Dahwa E.,Makoholi Research Institute | Poshiwa X.,University of Zimbabwe | Murungweni C.,Chinhoyi University of Technology
Nature Conservation | Year: 2014

Anthropogenic alteration of an environment and other disturbance regimes may enable the expansion of some native species into new geographical areas, a phenomenon observed with Dichrostachys cinerea. Five D. cinerea invaded sites, each approximately one hectare in size were assessed for the effects of D. cinerea on native herbaceous species diversity, richness, basal cover, litter cover, top hamper and plant vigour. The same attributes were studied in five uninvaded sites adjacent to, and equal in size to each invaded site. Forty herbaceous species were identified in the area. There were significant differences (P < 0.05) noted in species richness, basal cover, litter cover, top hamper, plant vigour, and species diversities between invaded and uninvaded sites, with uninvaded sites recording higher values than invaded sites. Altitude, erosion and the edaphic variables pH, N, P and K, which were included as explanatory variables, also differed significantly (P<0.05) between invaded and uninvaded sites. Of the 30 D. cinerea invaded plots established for herbaceous species assessments, 26 were positively correlated with altitude, erosion, pH, P, N and K. It is imperative to find ways of managing D. cinerea in order to reduce its adverse effects on herbaceous species. Copyright Clarice Mudzengi et al. Source

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