Improving productivity of small East African goats using native browse species
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Despite the socio economic importance of goats to the livelihoods of the people especially in the rural communities, their productivity in terms of meat production is low (UNDP, 2007). This has mainly been attributed to inadequate feeding and nutrition. Communities usually utilize feed resources that are locally available in their communities because they can get them at a cheap or no cost. There are several native feed resources present in the wild used in feeding goats in Buyende district; however, they have not been documented. Their spatial distribution, seasonal availability and accessibility are not known. As a result, the total quantity of the feed resources used in goat feeding in Buyende district is not known and therefore needs to be mapped out. Such baseline information is necessary in planning appropriate feeding strategies for the goats in the district in order to improve their productivity. In addition natural feed resources that exist in the wild are at a threat of extinction. This is due to the climate change and population pressure which has caused a change in the land uses (MEA, 2005). The grazing land is being converted to crop agriculture and settlement. This calls for conservation through domestication of the priority browses species to form a sustainable and accessible form of feed resource base. 5 The quality of the nutrition provided by the native feed resources to the goats is not known. The available information is from other regions and is largely limited to nutrient composition. As a result, their contribution to productivity has no scientific backup. There is a need to determine the quality of the feed in terms of degradability, intake, digestibility and N retention. Despite the fact that goat meat is more nutritionally acceptable to health conscious consumers compared to beef and mutton, the effect of supplementing diets based on these local browse species on weight gain and chemical composition, tenderness and fatty acid profiles of goat meat has not been studied as yet. Such information is necessary in the formulation of goat feed rations to be used in all production systems in order to improve the productivity of the goats in terms of quantity and quality. This study therefore, seeks to improve productivity of the goats in Uganda through improving nutrition quality using native browse species.