Temporal and spatial variability in the nutritive value of pasture vegetation and supplement feedstuffs for domestic ruminants in Western Kenya

  • Onyango, Alice Anyango (Animal Nutrition and Rangeland Management in the Tropics and Subtropics, Institute of Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics (Hans-Ruthenberg Institute), University of Hohenheim) ;
  • Dickhoefer, Uta (Animal Nutrition and Rangeland Management in the Tropics and Subtropics, Institute of Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics (Hans-Ruthenberg Institute), University of Hohenheim) ;
  • Rufino, Mariana Cristina (Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University) ;
  • Butterbach-Bahl, Klaus (International Livestock Research Institute) ;
  • Goopy, John Patrick (International Livestock Research Institute)
  • Received : 2018.02.08
  • Accepted : 2018.07.23
  • Published : 2019.05.01


Objective: The study aimed at quantifying seasonal and spatial variations in availability and nutritive value of herbaceous vegetation on native pastures and supplement feedstuffs for domestic ruminants in Western Kenya. Methods: Samples of herbaceous pasture vegetation (n = 75) and local supplement feedstuffs (n = 46) for cattle, sheep, and goats were collected in 20 villages of three geographic zones (Highlands, Mid-slopes, Lowlands) in Lower Nyando, Western Kenya, over four seasons of one year. Concentrations of dry matter (DM), crude ash (CA), ether extract (EE), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), gross energy (GE), and minerals were determined. Apparent total tract organic matter digestibility (dOM) was estimated from in vitro gas production and proximate nutrient concentrations or chemical composition alone using published prediction equations. Results: Nutrient, energy, and mineral concentrations were 52 to 168 g CA, 367 to 741 g NDF, 32 to 140 g CP, 6 to 45 g EE, 14.5 to 18.8 MJ GE, 7.0 to 54.2 g potassium, 0.01 to 0.47 g sodium, 136 to 1825 mg iron, and 0.07 to 0.52 mg selenium/kg DM. The dOM was 416 to 650 g/kg organic matter but differed depending on the estimation method. Nutritive value of pasture herbage was superior to most supplement feedstuffs, but its value strongly declined in the driest season. Biomass yields and concentrations of CP and potassium in pasture herbage were highest in the Highlands amongst the three zones. Conclusion: Availability and nutritive value of pasture herbage and supplement feedstuffs greatly vary between seasons and geographical zones, suggesting need for season- and region-specific feeding strategies. Local supplement feedstuffs partly compensate for nutritional deficiencies. However, equations to accurately predict dOM and improved knowledge on nutritional characteristics of tropical ruminant feedstuffs are needed to enhance livestock production in this and similar environments.


Feed Evaluation;Grazing Livestock;Pasture Herbage;Ruminant Nutrition;Seasonal Variation


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