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Performance of Sheep Grazing Brachiaria Decumbens, Panicum Maximum and Pennisetum Purpureum in Combination With Gliricidia Sepium

By Animal Research International, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka.


The introduction of forage legumes into grass pastures has generally improved grazing animal production by increasing total edible biomass and nutrient profiles. An experiment was designed tostudy the performance of sheep grazing Brachiaria decumbens, Panicum maximum and Pennisetum purpureum in combination with Gliricidia sepium. Eighteen paddocks of approximately 0.03 ha were used in the tra Nine of the paddocks had Gliricidia sepium alley planted in rows 4 mapart and interplanted with 4 rows of either Brachiaria decumbens, Panicum maximum, or Pennisetum purpureum. The other nine paddocks had only the grass species withoutthe Gliricidia sepium. The paddocks were each grazed by 3 sheep. The pure grass stands without the Gliricidia sepium served as controls for the grass species in combination with Gliricidia sepium. The three grasses and their combinations within the alley plots were replicated three times.The animals weregrazed continuously for 28 days in the sub plots. Sheep grazing the Gliricidia/Panicum plot had a higher (P < 001) growth rate (38 g d-1) than those animals grazing both the Gliricidia/Bracharia (23 g d-1) and Gliricida/Pennisetum (21 g d-1) plots respectively. There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) between sheep grazing the Gliricidia/Bracharia and Gliricidia/Pennisetum plots. The total dry matter intake of sheep on the Gliricidia/Panicum plot was higher (P < 005) (1.33 kg DM d-1) than that of sheep on Gliricidia/Bracharia (0.86 kg DM d-1) and Gliricidia/Pennisetum (0.43 kg DM d-1) plots respectivey. The total biomass from the Gliricidia/Bracharia (23 t ha -1)and Gliricidia/Panicum (21 t ha -1) plots respectively were higher (P < 001) than the total biomass from the Gliricidia/Pennisetum ( 13 t ha -1) plo. These results demonstrate that grazing West African dwarf sheep in a Gliricidia sepium/Panicum maximum plot improved their growth rate during dry season when feed supplies are limited. It also underscores the poor performance of animals
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