Assessment of different supplemental feeding strategies including cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) to enhance sheep productivity in Chakwal, Pakistan
In arid and semiarid areas, livestock production is faced with a challenge of uncertain feed supply which limits the quantity of forage available to animals either from natural grazing or crop residues. The current study compared the effect of three different supplemental feeds including oat (Avena sativa L.), lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) and spineless cactus [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.] in addition to a control treatment (farmer practice without supplementation) on sheep productivity, over a 60-day period in Chakwal, Pakistan. The common ingredients of the three diets were maize grain, barley grains, wheat bran, canola meal, groundnut hay and wheat straw. Eighteen ewes of similar age and weight were allocated to each treatment, with measurements of live-weight gain recorded at 15-day intervals. Lactating ewes fed oat (0.076 kg day‑1) and lucerne (0.064 kg day‑1) supplements showed similar average daily gain (ADG) compared with cactus- and control-supplemented ewes, with the same trend observed for dry ewes. The ADG for lambs fed cactus and lucerne was greater (at 0.083 kg day‑1 for both), compared with those fed oats and the control treatment. Weight changes of lactating ewes fed with different supplement feeds were not significantly different over the course of the experiment. Dry ewes supplemented with cactus had greater weight gains (54 kg at 15 days of supplementing and 57 kg at 60 days of supplementing) compared with oat-supplemented dry ewes (46 and 50 kg) from the first weighing interval until the end of the experiment. Based on these results, it can be concluded that supplementing sheep with cactus has a positive impact on live-weight gain, compared with solely grazing under poor rangeland conditions. Therefore, it is important to develop rations that maximize the full potential of this low-nitrogen, yet water- and carbohydrate-rich alternative feed source.
Islam, M., Razzaq, A., Hassan, S., Qamar, I.A., Rischkowsky, B., Ibrahim, M.N.M. and Louhaichi, M. (2019). Assessment of different supplemental feeding strategies including cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) to enhance sheep productivity in Chakwal, Pakistan. Acta Hortic. 1247, 117-122
supplemental feeding, small ruminant production, total digestible nutrients, live-weight gain