Diversity and importance of local fodder tree and shrub resources in mixed farming systems of central Kenya uri icon

abstract

  • Locally available tree fodder resources are seldom considered in livestock feeding strategies despite their nutritional potential to supplement grass forages. Knowledge gaps on species availability and utilization may be the cause. This study surveyed 117 random farms locatedin humid (Githunguri and Lari) and drier parts (Kayatta) of central Kenya to identify fodder trees and shrubs diversity available to supplement existing livestock feeding options. Major forage and feed types used by farmers include napier grass (98.2%); maize and bean stover (85.7%); banana stover (60.5%), dairy meal (60.1%), hay (58.3%) and fodder trees (57.7%). A total of 60 fodder tree and shrub species were found on farm. Indigenous species comprised 65% of total richness but only 12% of the total abundance. The most common exotic and indigenous trees were Grevillea robusta and Persea americana, and Acacia tortilis and Terminalia brownii, respectively. Mean species richness per farm was 6.8 with significantly higher richness in Kayatta (10) compared to Lari and Githunguri (both 5.4, p < 0.05). Land size had a positive influence on total indigenous species richness and abundance on farms while the number of dairy cows had a negative influence. Findings confirm availability of diverse tree fodder trees to supplement current feeding options. However, where farms are small, farmers may require external feed sources as limited tree richness and abundance may not support profitable dairy farming. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017