Review of forages used to feed small ruminants in Ghana in recent times
Forages used to feed small ruminants in Ghana were reviewed for the period 1997-2008. Areas reviewed included forages preferred by small ruminants, intake and digestibility, supplements, grazing behaviour, anti-nutritional factors and nutritional effects of forages. Whereas Cajanus cajan, Leucaena leucocephala, Mucuna pruriens var cochinchinensis and Mucuna pruriens var utilis were the most preferred forages by the animals, Gliricidia sepium was not. Feed intake increased and digestion was stimulated due to the high level of nitrogen in Chromolaena odorata leaves, thus it could therefore be incorporated into diets without any adverse effect. Indigenous browses had greater effect on the growth performance of sheep due to the varied crude protein levels of fodder plants. Animals on pasture were also known to possess the natural instinct whereby toxic plants were avoided. The ingestion of such toxic plants in majority of cases was usually associated with the scarcity of grazing materials on pastures. Anti nutritional factors such as coumarin and tannin also decreased feed intake and exerted effects contrary to optimum nutrition but if properly managed could result in other beneficial effect. Cultivation of browse fodder during the dry season when supplementation is needed to improve the live weight of animals should therefore be exploited.
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