Nutritive value of foragefrom Stylosanthes scabra accessions grown in a subtropical region of South Africa

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Livestock farming and its importance to smallholder farmers

Livestock farming is a common practice by pastoralists and smallholder subsistence farmers in communal areas in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, the major constraint they face is low productivity. This could be influenced by factors such as high stocking rates over marginal grazing land, poor grazing management and poor feed quality. Often livestock farming in communal areas is practised on marginal and shrinking grazing land because of high population (human and livestock) in communal areas. Natural pastures constitute major feed resources for animals in communal areas, but are characterized by low crude protein (CP) content, which is often below 7%, with high fibre, particularly during the dry season.
Forage with CP content below the threshold level (7%) is known to restrict rumen microbial activity, and consequently results in poor digestibility of the feed materials (Hariadi and Santoso 2010). According to Ogunbosoye and Babayemi (2010), feed scarcity and poor quality are major reasons for poor livestock performance under smallholder subsistence farmers in communal areas.
About half (50%) of the population of South Africa are considered poor (Terreblanche 2002) and of these 17.5 million people are living below the poverty threshold (Thornton et al. 2002). About 10.6 million of these people are smallholder subsistence farmers, who keep livestock and live in the communal areas (Thornton et al. 2002). Thus, livestock make a substantial contribution to their livelihoods by serving as sources of food and income (Mekoya 2008; Mabe et al. 2010; Castel et al. 2010). Smallholder subsistence farmers often keep more than one animal species, such as cattle, goats, sheep and chicken to fulfil a multipurpose role in the household (Perry et al. 2002; Homann et al. 2007). However, the importance of these animals varies from community to community.
Livestock farming systems in developing countries range from extensive pastoral systems, which are dominated by smallholder subsistence producers and semi-subsistence production, to large-scale commercially oriented industrial production systems (McDermott et al. 2010). Farming operations in South Africa are subdivided into two main categories, namely commercial and small-scale farming (Vatta 2007). For farmers with small land holdings, livestock also contribute large proportion of their income (Kunene et al. 2003; Mabe et al. 2010). This is because the sale of animals provides a proportion of annual cash income and capital assets of households (Miller and Photakoun 2008). According to Kunene et al. (2003) and Machethe (2004), livestock contribute between 20 – 30% of the household income.
Therefore, livestock is an important and integral component of farming systems, which contributes greatly to agricultural and rural development (Bembridge 1988). Small ruminants (goats) are known to play a crucial socio-economic role in rural areas (Mamabolo and Webb 2005). In these areas, womans are among the most resource-poor smallholder subsistence farmers (Mamabolo and Webb 2005). They contribute substantially to the livelihoods of rural people especially those of poor and medium resource endowment (Rymer et al. 2002; Homann et al. 2007). Goats are regarded as good sources of meat, milk and milk products such as cheese and yoghurt (Anaeto et al. 2010). Therefore, goats in communal areas fulfil multiple roles as they meet farmers’ needs (Haenlein and Ramirez 2007). Their adaptable character under harsh environment conditions makes them superior to other small ruminants. For example, they are found in drier areas of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, which is dominated by shrubs and bushes (Erasmus 2000), and are able to convert plant material into edible animal protein, which is useful to humans (Vatta 2007; Homann et al. 2007).

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CHAPTER 1  Literature review 
1.1. Livestock farming and its importance to smallholder farmers
1.2. Challenges of livestock production in sub-Saharan Africa
1.3. Alternative forage resources
1.3.1. Fodder trees, shrubs and herbaceous legumes
1.3.2. Stylosanthes as source of forage Brief history of Stylosanthes Introduction of Stylosanthes in Africa Performance of Stylosanthes species in Africa Stylosanthes in livestock production
1.4. Integration of forage legumes as an intercrop in smallholder farming conditions
1.4.1. Biomass yield of grass-legume intercrop
1.4.2. Forage quality of grass-legume intercrop
1.4.3. Livestock production from grass-legume intercrops
1.5. Problem statement
1.6. Objectives
1.6.1. General objective
1.6.2. Specific objectives
1.7. Hypotheses
CHAPTER 2  Adaptability and agronomic performance of Stylosanthes scabra accessions grown in a subtropical region of South Afric
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Materials and methods
2.2.1. Location
2.2.2. Experimental treatment and design
2.2.3. Data collection
2.2.4. Statistical analysis
2.3. Results
2.3.1. General observation
2.3.2. Growth parameters
2.3.3. Biomass yield
2.3.4. Quality of Stylosanthes scabra accessions
2.4. Discussion
2.5. Conclusion
CHAPTER 3  Nutritive value of foragefrom Stylosanthes scabra accessions grown in a subtropical region of South Africa
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Materials and methods
3.2.1. Location
3.2.2. Plant material and growing conditions
3.2.3. Chemical composition analysis
3.2.4. Anti-nutritional factors
3.2.5. Rumen fluid collection, buffer preparation and in vitro gas production
3.2.6. Calculations and statistical analysis
3.3. Results
3.3.1. Plant chemical composition and anti-nutritional factors
3.3.2. In vitro gas production characteristics
3.3.3. Feeding values
3.4. Discussion
3.5. Conclusion
CHAPTER 4  Relative preference for, palatability and intake of Stylosanthes scabra accessions adapted in Pretoria
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Materials and methods
4.2.1. Experimental setup
4.2.2. Data collection and analysis
4.3. Results
4.3.1. Chemical composition and in vitro organic matter digestibility
4.3.2. In vitro gas production
4.3.3. Animal behaviour
4.4. Discussion
4.5. Conclusio
CHAPTER 5  In vitro ruminal fermentation and digestibility of Eragrostis hay supplemented with forages of selected accessions of Stylosanthes scabra 
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Materials and methods
5.2.1. Plant materials and chemical composition analysis
5.2.2. Treatment setup
5.2.3. Rumen fluid collection and buffer preparation
5.2.4. Incubation of test feed and gas measurement
5.2.5. Thirty-hour neutral detergent fibre degradation
5.2.6. Calculations and statistical analysis
5.3.1. Chemical composition of grass hay and Stylosanthes scabra accessions
5.3.2. In vitro gas production of grass hay and Stylosanthes scabra accessions
5.3.3. Effect of supplementing poor-quality grass hay with Stylosanthes scabra accessions
5.3.4. Gas production parameters of grass hay, Stylosanthes scabra accessions and
supplemented grass hay
5.3.5. Associative effects between grass hay and Stylosanthes scabra accessions
5.3.6. Feeding values of grass hay, Stylosanthes scabra accessions and supplemented grass hay
5.3.7. Thirty-hour in vitro neutral detergent fibre degradability and ratios of cell wall
5.4. Discussion
5.5. Conclusion
CHAPTER 6  Partial replacements of Stylosanthes scabra forage for lucerne in total mixed ration diet of Saanen goats 
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Materials and methods
6.2.1. Location
6.2.2. Forage material and treatments
6.2.3. Animals and their feeding
6.2.4. Data collection and chemical analysis
6.2.5. Statistical analysis
6.3. Results
6.4. Discussion
6.5. Conclusion
CHAPTER 7  General conclusions and recommendations 


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