Seasonal Nutritional Characteristics of Livestock Diets in a Nomadic Pastoral Ecosystem

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Journal of Applied Ecology

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(1) Nutrient concentrations for diets of livestock managed by the Ngisonyoka Turkana in arid north-western Kenya were determined throughout one annual cycle, using bite-count methods of feeding observation and forage collection and standard procedures for forage chemical analysis.

(2) Percent dietary crude protein (CP), cell solubles (CS), and in vitro digestible dry matter (IVDDM) were highest for all species during brief wet periods (April-May) and declined variously thereafter, with associated increases in percent dietary holocellulose and lignin.

(3) Small-bodied species and/or those that relied heavily on non-herbaceous forage (goats, sheep, camels) typically showed diets higher in percent CP and CS and lower in percent total fibre (hollocellulose plus lignin) than those of the large grazers (cattle, donkeys).

(4) Camel diets were typically the lowest in terms of percent IVDDM.

(5) Evaluation of seasonal diet quality with respect to National Research Council feeding standards for maintenance indicated that potential deficits in dietary nitrogen concentrations were most likely for cattle and least likely for camels during dry periods, and that all diets were consistently deficient in digestible energy content, particularly those of camels. However, patterns of livestock performance observed appear to discount the applicability of feeding standards developed elsewhere.

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