Prioritizing fodder species based on traditional knowledge: a case study of mithun ( Bos frontalis ) in Dulongjiang area, Yunnan Province, Southwest China uri icon

abstract

  • Background: Livestock rearing is one of the oldest and most important types of smallholder farming worldwide. The sustainability of livestock production depends on the efficient utilization of locally available resources. Some traditional methods of raising livestock may offer valuable lessons in this regard. This study documented and evaluated local knowledge of wild forage plants in the Dulongjiang area in Southwest China in the context of rearing mithun (Bos frontalis) in order to provide a sound evidence base for tree fodder selection and the establishment of integrated tree-crop-livestock systems.
  • Background: Livestock rearing is one of the oldest and most important types of smallholder farming worldwide. The sustainability of livestock production depends on the efficient utilization of locally available resources. Some traditional methods of raising livestock may offer valuable lessons in this regard. This study documented and evaluated local knowledge of wild forage plants in the Dulongjiang area in Southwest China in the context of rearing mithun (Bos frontalis) in order to provide a sound evidence base for tree fodder selection and the establishment of integrated tree-crop-livestock systems. Methods: The snowball technique was used to identify key informants with specific knowledge about the topic. Free listing and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 58 households. Participatory investigation and transit walks were used to investigate potential fodder species. Ethnobotanical information was collected, documented and organized. Results: Overall, 142 wild forage plants from 58 families and 117 genera were identified. Species of the Poaceae, Rosaceae and Urticaceae families were most abundant, with 16, 14 and 11 species respectively identified as fodder plants. Our results indicated that tree/shrub forage plays a major role in the diet of mithun, unlike that of other ruminants. Mithun prefers to browse and move around the forest in search of food, particularly rough and even barbed leaves. Tree species like Debregeasia orientalis, Saurauia polyneura and Rubus species were identified as being important fodder sources. Farmers in this area have traditionally relied on common property resources such as community-managed forests and grasslands to feed their livestock. Farmers have strong incentive to raise mithuns rather than other livestock species due to Dulong people's cultural preferences. Conclusions: The wide variety of plants cited by the informants demonstrate the importance of traditional knowledge in gathering information about forage resources. This diversity also offers the prospect of identifying promising species which could be used as fodder plants. Identifying such species and tree fodder species in particular could help smallholder farmers to integrate trees, livestock and crops as part of a sustainable farming system. © 2017 The Author(s)
  • Conclusions: The wide variety of plants cited by the informants demonstrate the importance of traditional knowledge in gathering information about forage resources. This diversity also offers the prospect of identifying promising species which could be used as fodder plants. Identifying such species and tree fodder species in particular could help smallholder farmers to integrate trees, livestock and crops as part of a sustainable farming system.
  • Methods: The snowball technique was used to identify key informants with specific knowledge about the topic. Free listing and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 58 households. Participatory investigation and transit walks were used to investigate potential fodder species. Ethnobotanical information was collected, documented and organized.
  • Results: Overall, 142 wild forage plants from 58 families and 117 genera were identified. Species of the Poaceae, Rosaceae and Urticaceae families were most abundant, with 16, 14 and 11 species respectively identified as fodder plants. Our results indicated that tree/shrub forage plays a major role in the diet of mithun, unlike that of other ruminants. Mithun prefers to browse and move around the forest in search of food, particularly rough and even barbed leaves. Tree species like Debregeasia orientalis, Saurauia polyneura and Rubus species were identified as being important fodder sources. Farmers in this area have traditionally relied on common property resources such as community-managed forests and grasslands to feed their livestock. Farmers have strong incentive to raise mithuns rather than other livestock species due to Dulong people's cultural preferences.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017