This survey explored the situation of different feed resources for ruminant livestock in two zones (central and eastern) in Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. These two zones account for the region’s 12% of the total land mass, 23% of the human population, 28% of the cattle population, and 56% of the small ruminant population.
Farmers feed their livestock a variety of feed resources that range from crop residues to non-conventional feeds.The overall contribution of crop residues exceeds 50% of the livestock feeds currently used by smallholder farmers, and this reflects the level of integration between crop and livestock farming.
Wheat residue is by far the most dominant and accounted for about 41% of the total residue. About 66% of the 146,890 qts pulse residue produced in the two zones is from the eastern zone districts, with faba bean dominating all pulses across the seven districts. Storage conditions for hay are generally poor. Most farmers store it in open fields which leads to rapid deterioration in the feeding quality.
Cultivated forage crops growing in the study districts are sesbania, leucaena, Napier grass, alfalfa, tree lucerne, vetch, cowpea, lablab and pigeon pea. Of these species sesbania, leucaena, and Napier grass are frequently used for feeding livestock. Forage productivity is generally low, on average about 430 kg/ha, and this contribution is less than 25%. About 39% of the surveyed peasant associations (PAs), 11 out of 28, used improved forages for feeding dairy cows and fattening of oxen and small ruminants. Lack of access to forage planting materials, land and water shortages are among the main problems hindering forage development.
The availability of agro-industrial by-products (AIBP) as feed supplement varies across districts. According to the
respondents, AIBPs were more available in the eastern zone than in the central zone. The most pervasive AIBP is wheat bran. About 63% of the discussants in the eastern zone rated it as medium. Non-conventional feed resources used in both zones include atella, vegetable leftovers and cactus. Urea treatment of crop residues, silage making, and UMMNB as a source of protein and energy supplements are not usually used by farmers. Lack of finance, limited knowledge and stable supply of molasses were mentioned as reasons for not widely using such technologies.
Overall, the management and utilization of crop residues with particular attention to collection and
transportation is constrained by factors such as labour shortage, distance from harvesting field to animals and delayed harvest in the project districts. Grazing land management and improvement is seldom considered by farmers or the extension system. Acute shortages of AIBPs supply from the sources and high price fluctuation in the main towns of the districts are discouraging smallholder dairy and small ruminant farmers from using them on a regular basis. The contribution of improved forage plants is not as expected and forage genetic material multiplication sites are operating with insufficient budget and manpower, and not supported by proper research. The overall feed supply to demand ratio in four districts in the eastern zone is not enough to cover the annual maintenance requirements of the present stock.
Tesfay, Y., Gebrelibanos, A., Woldemariam, D. and Tilahun, H. 2016. Feed resources availability, utilization and marketing in central and eastern Tigray, northern Ethiopia. LIVES Working Paper 11. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.