The effect of a locally produced mineral lick on the performance of growing West African Dwarf Sheep
An on-station experiment was conducted to establish the nutritional value of a locally manufactured mineral lick. Twenty-one West African Dwarf (WAD) sheep were used for the study. The sheep were divided into three equal groups of seven sheep. Each group had four males and three females. Group one sheep had access to the local lick. Group two sheep had access to a purchased foreign mineral lick while Group three sheep had no access to mineral lick. Mean initial weight of each group of sheep was 17 kg. The local lick was composed of dicalcium phosphate, a piece of anthill, clay-rich naturally-occurring salt lick, common salt and ashed fodder. The experiment spanned 5 months (December to May) of the dry season. Single factor design was used to analyze the data with restrictions on randomization within sex and week. Data were collected on sheep weight gains, height gains, blood parameters, sheep body condition and mineral lick costs. Mean weight gains were 3.7 kg, 3.3 kg and 3.0 kg for sheep on local, foreign and the control, respectively, with the difference between local and control being significant (P<0.05). Mean heights at withers were 76 cm for sheep on either local or foreign lick and 68 cm for the control but the difference was not significant. The local lick appeared to be of greater benefit to the female animals than the males. Packed cell volumes were 27, 24 and 14% for sheep on local, foreign and control, respectively. Haemoglobin contents were 9, 8 and 6 g/dl, while red blood cells and white blood cells were 5.0, 4.3 and 3.5 x 106/ul and 10.9, 10.5 and 11.4 x 103/ul for local, foreign and control sheep, respectively. The economics of gain were US$15.86, US$12.33 and US$12.25 for sheep on local lick, foreign lick and control, respectively. One sheep on the control died during the experiment. The local lick appeared to have a good nutritional value for female sheep in particular.
Keywords: chemical composition; local innovation; nutrition; ruminants; weight gains
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