L. M. Mburu1 and C. K. Gachuiri2
1Kenyatta University, Department of Animal Science,
P.O Box 43844-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
2University of Nairobi, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences,
P.O. Box 29053-00625, Nairobi, Kenya. firstname.lastname@example.org
*Corresponding Author: email@example.com
In the Coastal Lowlands of Kenya, small-scale mixed crop-livestock system is the dominant form of agricultural production. Feed quantity and quality are inadequate and rarely meets the nutrient demands of growing heifers and lactating cows especially in the dry seasons. The objective of the study was to determine the chemical composition and in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) of some native species forage species in Kwale and Kilifi Counties. A cross-sectional survey was conducted for 3 months on a random sample of 415 small-scale dairy cattle producers’ to determine the main basal feed resources. Thereafter, feed samples were collected during a longitudinal survey on a purposive sample of 32 farms from the main cross-sectional sample for 12 months. Chemical composition of the forages varied considerably. The mean CP and NDF of grasses ranged from 84.1±10.9 - 97.1±13.5 and 603.8±57.0 - 724.8±45.1 g/kg DM respectively. Leucaena leucocephala had the highest CP of 270.8±74.0 g/kg DM while natural pastures mixture had the lowest of 84.1±10.9 g/kg DM. Asystaciagangetica and Commelina benghalensis had a CP content of 131.8±26.7 and 162.7±22.6 g/kg DM respectively. Napier grass had a CP of 86.4±11.3 g/kg DM while dry maize stover and green maize stover had CP of 72.2±10.4 and 112.8±13.6 g/kg DM respectively. A. gangetica, C. benghalensis, L. leucocephala and green maize stover had higher in vitro dry matter digestibility (> 50%) compared to dry maize stover, pastures grasses and napier grass. Pastures grasses in vitro dry matter digestibility ranged from 40.3±7.31 – 44.7±5.48%. Therefore, the available forages were of moderate quality with average to high nutrient content and in vitro dry matter digestibility. Farmers’ should be encouraged to harvest pasture grasses at bloom-milk stage in order to take advantage of their rich nutrient supply.
Keywords: Chemical composition, forages, in vitro digestibility, native species