G. K. Maphane and P. Mutshewa
Department of Animal Health and Production, Ministry of Agriculture, P. Bag 0032, Gaborone, Botswana
The natural rangelands form the basic feed resource for livestock production in Botswana. In this paper, livestock means beef cattle, goats, sheep and equines but the bias will be towards beef cattle. These species compete on the range and are mostly affected by the deficiency of nutrients in the rangeland grasses during the dry season. Other species such as pigs and chickens are not affected as their diets are not influenced by the dry season. Also the dairy cow would not be affected to any degree as the feed base is concentrates.
The grazing land which is the mainstay of livestock survival in Botswana has been reported to have lost a lot of plant cover as a result of overgrazing and frequent droughts (Macala, 1991). It is therefore evident that the current rangeland does not provide sufficient animal feed, and this is exacerbated during the dry season, when the quantitative nutritive value of the rangeland is drastically reduced.
At the moment livestock problems are centred on the management of the animal and its production to the exclusion of forage production. The same importance attached to livestock production should be attributed to sustainable forage production as the two cannot be separated.
Livestock population in Botswana
The trends in livestock population changes in Botswana differs according to species. The cattle population tends to follow the pattern of drought. Following a drought year the cattle population goes down and goes up following a good year. The pig population increased to 16000 in 1991 and decreased to 1000 in 1995 this may be due to the fact that Batswana are not a pig eating people and therefore most of the pig sties had to close down. Goats, sheep, donkeys and horses are on the increase, chickens are also increasing (Table 1).
The fact that the rangeland users are increasing in number and the country is prone to droughts does call for feeding not only during the dry season but even during bad years to sustain the animals.
Table 1. Livestock Population ('000): 1986 to 1995
Source: Botswana Agricultural Survey Report (1995)
The population of cattle in 1998 was down to 2.3 million. This was because 300000 cattle were slaughtered to eradicate contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia.
Table 1 shows that the livestock population is increasing except for pigs that dropped to 1000 in 1995.
The dwindling rangelands
In 1972 the Tribal Grazing Land Policy was put into place with a belief that there were open and unused areas that farmers from the communal areas with large herds could move to and still leave some areas reserved for future use.
Large areas of Botswana's rangeland areas are now in very poor condition because of overgrazing and mismanagement. Between 1980 and 1994 it was found that six to 25 percent of Botswana at one point remained as bare soil without vegetation (Vanderpost et al., 1998).
In 1991 it was clear that open areas reserved for the future were not available and the National Policy on Agricultural Development was formulated. The policy, among other things, was for fencing the communal areas where feasible. This was brought about by the realisation that fencing does facilitate management of the resource and improves productivity of livestock.
Though droughts that occur frequently in the country can be blamed for the depletion of the range resources, mismanagement of resources is the biggest culprit. Poor rangeland condition has contributed to low grass cover, an increase of annual species and bare ground, signs of severe sheet and gully erosion and dense bush encroachment.
The feed base
The natural range
The natural range is the basic provider for livestock in Botswana. The rangeland cover differs from area to area. Some areas have been abused more than others. The Eastern side of the country which has better water sources has had more livestock for a longer time. The area has been overstocked and overgrazed.
The Western parts of the country which have lower livestock populations have relatively better cover than the Eastern parts. The range deteriorates as the dry period advances and grasses lose their nutritive value.
The soils of Botswana have been found to be lacking in calcium and phosphorus. This therefore calls for feeding of mineral supplements all year round.
Bone meal used to be a source of calcium and phosphorus but the Botswana Meat Commission stopped manufacturing. Now it cannot be fed because of the European Union (EU) restrictions.
Though it is evident that animals lack nutrients which is more clearly manifested during the dry season, the small farmer in the communal area still has not picked up the idea of supplementing animals with these minerals. In contrast, the more affluent farmers on the ranches and in the communal areas do supplement their livestock.
Concentrates are manufactured from grain, a luxury that Botswana cannot afford, because grain production does not meet the demands of the human population; and therefore it is difficult to feed animals from grains. The concentrates that are available on the market or in Livestock Advisory Centres (LAC) are imported and the prices at times are prohibitive for small farmers.
The pig and poultry industries are dependent on concentrates and this makes the industries somewhat expensive to run because they depend more on imported feed.
The breweries and millers produce a substantial amount of by-products that are fed to animals especially pigs and dairy animals. Beef cattle and other livestock are also fed these by-products and they provide a good feed base for the dry season for all types of livestock. The nutritive value of some of these by-products is shown in Table 2.
The problem is that these by-products can only be found in urban centres where the industries are located. Those in the remote areas do not have easy access to these products and therefore have either to resort to other feed sources, or simply leave nature to take its course hoping the animals will pull through.
Table 2. Nutritive value of agro-industry by-products (%DM)
|Dry Matter||Crude Protein||Calcium||Phosphorus|
|Sunflower seed meal||90.0||23.30||0.21||0.93|
|Brewers grain (Chibuku)||21.0||23.20||0.33||0.55|
Stover and post harvest by-products
Stover could be used as feed during the dry season but unfortunately in a lot of instances many farmers would first open gates to their field and let the animals run in to graze the stover. This practice is wasteful and farmers are encouraged to harvest the substantial amounts of stover and store it for the dry season (Table 3).
Table 3. Average production for sorghum maize and millet stovers and groundnuts hulls
|Type of Residue||Drought Year|
|m/t dry matter||m/t dry matter|
1982–1987 represents average production for drought years
1988–1991 represents average production for good years
In some parts of the country the farmers harvest stover from beans and groundnuts and store for the dry season especially for draught power animals. The post harvest by-products in many cases are left to waste and not fed to animals even though their nutritive value is high. Some people even go to the extent of burning these valuable feeds. The nutritive value of some stovers is shown in Table 4.
The need to grow fodder in Botswana cannot be over emphasised given the unpredictable nature of the climate and the frequent droughts. The fodder concept was introduced mainly for small farmers who use animals for ploughing.
Table 4. Nutritive value of some stovers (% of DM)
|Dry matter||Crude protein||Calcium||Phosphorus|
These farmers could not plough with the first rains because the animals were weak after the drought and fodder fed during the dry season was the only remedy to the problem.
Those farmers who grow fodder have reported that they wean more calves and kids when they feed the fodder they grow than when they do not feed. They plough and plant with the first rains because their drought animals are in good condition.
The fodder crops that farmers are encouraged to grow are Dolichos Lablab, Siratro, Leucaena, Cenchrus ciliaris and Atriplex. These are crops that can grow with limited moisture and therefore are suited for the conditions of Botswana. These fodder crops harvested at the right time provide high quality feed which can reduce the dependence on manufactured feed.
The production of lucerne has not been very successful because of the shortage of water. That not withstanding, there is limited production around Gaborone and Lobatse, but the production does not satisfy the demand. This therefore calls for growing of appropriate fodder crops that do not demand large volumes of water.
Chicken manure can also provide nutrients to animals when it is correctly processed. The chicken manure can be used to formulate low cost high value feed for beef and dairy cattle.
The chicken population of 12 million in 1998 can produce 264 m/t of manure per day which can be used to provide protein to the beef industry.
Table 5. Feed imports 1996–1998 ('000)
Source: LAC Reports, Botswana
During the dry season the grasses that are standing in the rangeland lose nutritive value coupled with the fact that the soils are lacking in mineral content. Supplementary feeding then becomes a necessity if one is to get good returns from the animals.
Government, through a network of extension offices has put into place strategies to combat the losses that may occur because of deficiencies that are brought on by the dry season.
The feeds that are sold through the LAC's are often imported (see Table 5) and are subsidized because they are sold at cost during the normal years and during a drought year essential feeds (dicalcium phosphate, cattle pellets etc) are further subsidized For the 1998 and 1999 drought years the subsidy was 50 percent.
Harvesting of stover is not done by most farmers because it is labour intensive, with the exception of a few farmers in the North East and Bobirwa sub-district who harvest groundnut and cow pea stovers. Fodder production will go a long way in bridging the gap of deficiencies during the dry season. This can also reduce costs of production for the farmer.
Feeding livestock in the dry season can improve production parameters like calving percentage, conception rate, growth etc. Currently calving percentage is 40 to 50 percent in communal areas and 60 to 70 percent on freehold farms. Steers are ready for market at a minimum of 24 months.
Botswana and Agricultural Survey Report. 1995 Division of Agricultural Statistics MoA Central Statistics Office MFDP Gaborone, Botswana
Macala, J. 1991. Crop residues and agro industrial by-products as feed resources for cattle. Proceedings of the Livestock Production Workshop. Gaborone, Botswana. pp 193–197.
Vanderpost, C., Rinrose. S. and Macfesson, W. 1998. Aspects of ecological change in Botswana, Kalahari. Botswana notes and records volume 30, 1998. pp 121–138.
G. B. Matita
Department of Animal Health and Industry, Lilongwe, Malawi
Malawi is a sub-tropical country situated between latitudes 9° and 18°S and longitudes 33° and 36°S in South-Eastern Africa with a land area over 94000 km2, of which approximately 23000 km2 is covered by water bodies. Most of the water comprises Lake Malawi, three smaller lakes and numerous rivers including the Shire river which drains off Lake Malawi into the Zambezi river (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Agricultural development divisions in Malawi
The human population is currently estimated at 10 million, up from 3.9 million in 1965, of which 50 percent is under the age of 15, implying a high dependency ratio. The population growth rate is about 1.9 percent per annum (December 1998). Women constitute about 52 percent of the population. The population is expected to double in the next 20 to 25 years (World Bank, 1995).
Population density and farm size
There are approximately two million small-holder families and 30000 estates in the country. The population density is currently estimated at just under 100 per km2. Most family operated small holdings depend upon subsistence farming based on mixed crop and livestock activities. The density of the rural population by region in 1994 is shown in Table 1. With almost 90 percent of the total population living in rural areas, Malawi is an intensely rural economy, where poverty is rampant, with nearly 64 percent of the entire population living below the poverty line. In terms of living standards, the UNDP Human Development Index (UNDP 1994) placed Malawi as 157th out of 173 developing countries throughout the world. Growth of Domestic Products (GDP) during the 1990s averaged just under 2.5 percent implying that the population as a whole is becoming progressively poorer.
Table 1. Rural population densities
|Total rural ('000)||% of total population||Density (total land area per person in ha)|
Source: NSO, Malawi (1998)
Table 1. shows that as a consequence of the high population density, farm sizes are extremely small, with 85 percent of the small-holdings under one ha. Official estimates of cultivated area reveal that the mean area cultivated per family is 0.85 ha while most densely populated areas average less than 0.4 ha (Southern Region). The land available for cultivation is so scarce now that it is estimated that over 55 percent of small holder households are unable to achieve food self sufficiency and obviously this land pressure has serious implications on livestock production.
Agriculturally, the country is divided into eight Agricultural Development Divisions (ADD) for effective implementation of extension programmes in both crop and livestock production (Figure 1). However, three main agro-ecological zones can be recognised according to rainfall and altitude:-
|• Zone 1 :||Lowlands or semi-arid areas found mainly on the shores of Lake Malawi and in the Rift Valley areas of the Lower Shire lying at 500 to 1000 masl and receiving less than 1000 mm annual rainfall. Most small ruminant activity takes place in this zone.|
|• Zone II :||Highland plains of the Shire Highlands, Lilongwe and Kasungu lying at 1000 to 1500 masl and receiving 1000 to 1500 mm of annual rainfall. Most of the arable farming takes place in these areas, which are generally densely populated and the zone is second in importance to Zone 1 in relation to ruminant livestock.|
|• Zone III :||High plateau areas lying over 1500 masl with over 1500 mm of annual rainfall. (Forest Reserves and National Parks).|
Malawi's climate is characterised by two distinct seasons, the rainy season from November to April (critical time for livestock production) and the dry season from May to October (usually abundant crop residues for livestock feeding available). In some areas, especially in the high plateaux, it is relatively cool from May to July and intermittent showers called “Chiperoni” are common. Malawi's tropical continental climate is influenced mostly by the lake.
Mean annual temperatures range from 12 to 25°C with the highest temperature at the end of October of early November and the lowest in June and July. The highest temperatures are in the Lower Shire (25–33°C) and along the Lake (23–25°C). In these areas, the mean maximum temperatures can reach 35°C and the absolute maximum can exceed 42°C. Lowest mean annual temperature (13–15°C) are recorded over the high Nyika Plateaux, Dedza and Mulanje mountains and other high altitude areas. Relative humidity is highest from January to March at 60 to 80 percent and lowest in September and October at 40 to 60 percent.
Major economic sectors
The major economic sectors of Malawi include agriculture, tourism, fisheries and forestry. Agriculture contributes 36 percent, tourism and fisheries four percent and forestry 0.2 percent of the GDP respectively.
The importance of agriculture and livestock to the economy
Agriculture plays a crucial role in Malawi's economic growth and restructuring. The sector's share of the economy has varied little since independence and it averaged 36 percent of the total GDP between 1990 and 1997. Over the same period, the small holder component of agriculture contributed on average 27 percent of the GDP and the estate component nine percent. In terms of employment, the influence of agriculture is overwhelming. It generates 46 percent of paid employment and engages 80 percent of the total labour force. The agricultural sector also accounts for about 90 percent of export earning.
A variety of crops are grown in Malawi as food and cash crops. The major crops include maize, rice, beans, groundnuts, soya beans, tobacco, tea, sugarcane etc. All these crops are however characterised by low productivity with demand outstripping supply in most cases. This is largely because most of the two million small holder families are basically engaged in subsistence farming dominated by crops cultivated under rain fed conditions and annual production levels fluctuate markedly. In addition, this traditional sector is heavily dependent upon a single crop of maize. On average, this accounts for roughly 58 percent of the cultivated area and for around 85 percent of all crop production on a volume basis. Apart from maize, 21 percent of the cropping area is occupied by legumes (peas, beans and groundnuts) and a further nine percent by root crops (mainly cassava and sweet potatoes).
The livestock sub-sector
Livestock constitutes a relatively small sub-sector within Malawi's agriculture, officially contributing only seven percent of GDP and below 20 percent of the value of total agricultural production. Livestock activities however, involve over half of the two million small holder families - there are approximately 500000 goat owners, 140000 cattle keepers and around 1.2 million families with village poultry. A small proportion of these practice intensive husbandry techniques while the majority operate low input - output management systems. Small ruminants and various types of poultry, particularly scavenging chickens, make a vital contribution to household food security. For all classes of livestock, levels of husbandry, nutrition and health care are generally poor, resulting in low productivity and high mortality particularly in young stock.
Livestock contribute towards subsistence needs and generate occasional cash sales for over half of Malawi's two million smallholder families. They provide regular cash earnings for approximately 15 percent of these families that can be classified as commercial producers. Livestock in Malawi also provide a way of transforming crop residues e.g. straws, stover, groundnut haulms and crop by-products like maize bran and cotton seed into food or cash, of using areas of grazing land unsuited for arable farming and of making use of resting land within a crop rotation. They also serve as a marketable asset that acts as a hedge against inflation. Poultry and eggs provide cash and food for special occasions even in food deficit households.
Livestock in Malawi also provide manure for crop production, a significant contribution considering the high current prices of inorganic manure. They are also a source of draught power and transport especially in the Northern and Central regions of Malawi.
Livestock population in Malawi (1998)
Table 2 below shows the main categories of livestock reared in Malawi.
Table 2. Categories of livestock reared in Malawi
|Type of Livestock||Small holder Households holding livestock ('000)||Total small holder livestock numbers ('000)||Average no. per household holding stock||Estate and large commerci al population ('000)||Urban population ('000)||Total livestock population ('000)|
|Free range pigs||917||365.1||4.0||1.2||4.0||366.8|
|Free range chickens||1116.0||8362.5||7.5||71.7||102.0||8595.5|
Source: NLDMP Survey (1997)
Clearly, khola (herd) sizes are very small with bovine herd sizes at a modest seven head per farm family. Some livestock species like donkeys are extremely small in number, estimated at only 2500 head in 1998. Table 3 shows population trends for livestock for the period 1994–1997.
Table 3. Population trends for some livestock species (1994–1997)
These figures indicate a sustained decrease in cattle population over the reported period. The main impact of this fall was experienced in the Central region, which held around half of the national cattle population for several decades but now hold only around 35 percent. The end of a nearly 17 year old civil war in neighbouring Mozambique led to the repatriation of large number of cattle previously sheltered in Malawi. However, the rate of decrease seems to have accelerated since 1992, largely due to the effect of severe droughts in the 1991/92 and 1993/94 cropping seasons, combined with an increased incidence of stock theft. This first became a problem in the 1980's but exploded in 1993 with examples of entire kholas (kraals) of animals being stolen at gun point. The risk of loss now is so high that it mitigates strongly against ownership of cattle. During this period the goat population has grown fairly steadily and has maintained its momentum until the present time. This can be explained by the fact that small ruminants, especially goats in Malawi are very prolific, are less affected by droughts and that most stock theft has targeted cattle.
Livestock production systems (Husbandry practices)
The traditional livestock herd, comprising predominantly the Malawi Zebu forms 95 percent of the cattle population and is kept on Malawi's 6.1 million ha of customary land within family - operated small-holdings operating mixed crop and livestock activities under conditions of extensive management. The remaining livestock population is kept on a relatively small number of the estimated 30000 estates which occupy some 1.2 million ha or are raised under intensively managed smallholder conditions. The production systems in Malawi can therefore be categorized as follows:-
The extensive production system
This is the traditional management of local cattle where cattle are communally grazed for variable periods during the day, herded by small boys and are confined at night in small kholas or open enclosures. During the dry season, after the main crops have been harvested, cattle graze freely on crop residues and in the dambos - areas that flood during the wet season and retain substantial amount of residual moisture during the dry season. During this period, the condition of stock is generally good. However, towards the end of the dry season, cattle face nutritional stress and start to lose condition as crop residues become less available because burning commences as part of land preparation for the coming crop season.
As soon as new crops begin to germinate during the rainy season, cattle are closely herded to avoid crop damage. Because of high labour requirement for crop cultivation at the beginning of the rainy season, cattle are frequently left in open muddy kholas until late in the morning and returned early in the evening, resulting in sharply reduced grazing hours. With grazing concentrated within small areas between crops and on dambo fringes, tick-borne diseases and helminthiasis increase sharply and this results in heightened mortality in the first four months of the year, particularly in calves.
As with traditionally managed cattle, small ruminants face major problems in the rainy season. To avoid crop damage, small ruminants may be closely herded or tethered on uncropped land for a few hours each day before being returned to the khola. Sometimes stock are kept in farmers dwelling houses overnight to protect against theft.
Small-holder intensive production systems
Examples in this system include small-holder dairying where farmers practice mixed farming, are required to plant forage grasses and tree legumes and practice zero-grazing and some form of supplementation. This is common in the southern region. The other examples in the Malawian situation is the small holder stall-feeding scheme which aims at taking more animals (steers) to a heavier live weight and better condition before slaughter. Fattening in the dry season utilises crop residues and surplus family labour and provides cash and manure in time for the new cropping season. However, this small holder fattening scheme has struggled under controlled retail meat prices. The scheme used to fatten well over 2000 head annually but currently has only around 500 stallfeeder farmers fattening about 1000 with the majority located around Blantyre.
Commercial large-scale production systems
Under this production system, there is large scale commercial dairying and commercial beef production. Of the 31 large-scale dairy farms in Malawi, 22 are privately owned with a total of 4000 milking cows - mainly Friesian or Holstein. These farms are concentrated in the Southern Region. They generally import their own semen, sourcing from both the region and Europe, and carry out their own A.I. Most of these conserve forage such as hay and silage, do supplementary feeding with concentrates Management levels vary considerably. Some farmers report high yields, but many farmers only achieve lactation yields of 2000 to 3000 kg which is low for the region.
Commercial beef production is concentrated in some larger estates, particularly in Kasungu ADD. In some cases, they use Brahman or exotic crosses on the Malawi Zebu. Rhodes grass pastures (Chloris gayana) which are established in estates for nematode control after the tobacco crops, together with natural bush grazing and crop residues constitute the main feed base for commercial beef production.
Peri-urban and urban backyard production
This production system is becoming increasingly important in areas surrounding major cities and towns in the country especially with small stock commodities like chicken, pigs and rabbits. This system is in the form of small-holder intensive units. Despite the problem of poor and erratic feed supply, inadequate supply of day-old chicks or pig breeding stock, these producers are fully commercially-oriented and are likely to be most receptive to advice leading to improved productivity and profits.
The emerging situation in Malawi
After years of neglect, the livestock sector is being increasingly viewed in a more positive attitude, as a sub-sector within the agriculture sector that can provide opportunity to improve smallholder diets and increase household food security.
During the past decade, the growing population plus modest rises in personal incomes has caused domestic demand to outstrip increases in livestock production. As a result, imports of livestock products have steadily increased, especially in the case of poultry meat and eggs.
The sub-sector has suffered in recent years from the effects of stock theft. This phenomenon has particularly affected the cattle industry where numbers have been falling rapidly. The present cattle population is only around 620000 compared to over one million in the mid. 1980's. Insecurity is also exerting a negative effect on the production and investment decisions of intensive dairy, pig and poultry producers.
The demand and supply situation
The current production levels of all livestock commodities is far below demand (Table 4). Consequently, the country is depending on imports to bridge the gap. This situation has also strangled the local livestock industry as it has to face stiff competition arising from cheaper imports of livestock products especially from Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Table 4. Demand and supply situation of some livestock products (1998)
|Product type||Domestic supply (m/t)||Requirement (m/t)||Production gap (m/t)||Imports (m/t)||%|
Malawi is currently importing one percent of its total red meat consumption, 7.3 percent of its poultry meat, about 15 percent of it egg and 38 percent of its milk/milk product consumption.
Annual consumption levels of livestock products are extremely low. Total consumption of livestock products, together with per capita consumption is shown in Table 5.
Table 5. Consumption of meat and some livestock products (1997)
The per capita consumption of all types of meat, including offal and salvage slaughter is around 5.3 kg. This compares unfavourably with estimates for the whole Sub-Saharan Africa figure of 12 kg. Annual milk consumption of just over three litres per person is also very low, as is egg consumption (0.87 kg per person).
Malawi livestock production systems are predominantly of the communal grazing type with little or no supplementary feeding, hence a basically low input - low output production system. Livestock feed resources are poor with only 3000 ha (0.1%) of the available three million ha of arable land under developed pastures, which is an insignificant amount of investment. The little developed pasture/fodder land is mainly confined to three milk shed areas of Blantyre, Kasungu, and Mzuzu and large-scale commercial dairying area. This is decreasing now because of the tremendous pressure on land as a result of an increasing human population. Although all aspiring dairy farmers are required to plant forage grasses and legumes, principally Napier as well as Sesbania and Leucaena, this has been mostly adopted in the southern milkshed area where holdings are small and zero grazing is usually practised. The general quality of natural grazing pastures is poor and just like in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, tropical pastures in Malawi are characterised by low energy and protein content. The feed value of these native grasses declines rapidly through the rains. This, coupled with reduced grazing hours as a result of close herding and tethering in the cropping season, produces nutritional stress at this time. The upland grazing area is generally declining as a result of increased cropping brought about by more intensive land use. Wet areas which retain residual moisture during the dry season (Dambos) are increasingly used in the rains where in the former years, they were used mainly for dry season grazing.
Although metabolisable energy levels are adequate throughout the year, in the dry season low protein levels in highly fibrous stovers and straws and insufficient alternative nitrogen sources (e.g. leguminous stover and fodder) severely limit their utilisation. The abundant crop residues, primarily maize stover are generally left for grazing in situ, where they are subject to attack by termites and burning, rather than being collected and stored, and wastage rates are high. They are low in nitrogen and digestible energy and supplementation or treatment with inorganic or organic nitrogen is essential for their efficient utilization.
Utilization rates are therefore poor and provide a major opportunity for improving nutrition. Unfortunately, the reduction in the groundnut crop has reduced the availability of groundnut stover (around 10% CP) further aggravating the situation.
Feeding of high protein forages like Leucaena or Sesbania, use of urea/molasses/mineral blocks and poultry manure or chemical treatment of stovers to increase digestibility is rarely practised except in some commercial livestock enterprises.
The non-ruminant feed situation is even worse. Commercially produced poultry and pig feeds are erratic in supply and of generally poor quality. The majority of large scale commercial producers compound their own rations from independently imported and locally purchased ingredients, but small scale intensive producers face severe problems.
The likely future feed situation looks gloomier. Increasing human population pressure will have the effect of decreasing available grazing areas on customary land. However, this effect will be partially counteracted by increased cropping intensity resulting in increased production of crop by-products and residues. Even if Malawi eventually becomes a permanent importer of maize, total milling by-products will still increase in line with total human population.
Constraints to livestock productivity
There are several reasons for the stagnation in productivity of the livestock sector in Malawi ranging from a very unfavourable macroeconomic environment, high population growth rate, weak public support, the rising impact of the HIV/AIDs epidemic to widespread rural poverty. Increasing livestock production through expansion of the ruminant population faces the following major constraints.
Human population pressure, particularly in the southern region has lead to increased pressure on land and reduced communal grazing areas mainly in the cropping season. Increased cropping on dambos also leads to crop damage by livestock and to disputes between livestock owners and other members of the community.
A breakdown in security resulting in increased stock theft which become a serious issue in the late 1980's and has been especially acute since 1993. Livestock, particularly cattle - therefore do not offer the same opportunity for the low risk accumulation of savings and a hedge against inflation, that they have traditionally provided.
Poor harvests, increased prices for inputs particularly fertiliser and for other essentials of life have resulted in an increased off-take of livestock, including breeding stock, leading to a herd structure that cannot sustain herd numbers under current conditions of high mortality rates.
For monogastric animals, the major constraint is the lack of a surplus cereal base for livestock feed. Malawi requires 2.1 million m/t of maize annually but production consistently falls short of this, ranging from a high of 2.3 million m/t this just ended cropping season to a low of 0.66 million mt 1991/2 (drought year) with concomitant imports. The rising human population is certain to exacerbate this problem and in the absence of unforeseen technical break-throughs, will drive the domestic maize price up towards import parity levels.
Constraints to the expansion of the production base arise mainly from the poor feed value of the native grasses coupled with poor husbandry practices such as reduced grazing hours as a result of close herding and tethering in the cropping season, producing nutritional stress at this time. Utilization rates of crop residues during the dry season, as indicated elsewhere in this report are poor. The abundant crop residues are either attacked by termites, burned or left for grazing in situ, rather than being collected and stored and wastage rates are high. These crop residues, if properly utilized, could provide a major opportunity for improving nutrition.
The other constraint to the expansion of the productive base is that the current land-based animal feed balance may not sustain it. The current ruminant herd is estimated at only 635644 tropical livestock units mainly reflecting a decline in cattle numbers. The greatest concentration of livestock is found in the Shire Valley, where one TLU is supported on a total of eight ha of land and this is already at full carrying capacity. Even-though in all ADDs of the country, theoretical dry matter availability exceeds requirement, accessibility and utilization is poor. In the rains, this is constrained by stock movement blocked by crops and short grazing hours as a result of competition for labour with cultivation activities.
Other constraints that are directly related to problems of increasing productivity parameters are poor husbandry practices; diseases and parasites; housing and equipment; breeds and the genetic base (breed substitution leading to high mortality).
Indirect constraints to improvement in technical production parameters include low enterprise profitability; the scenario in Malawi is characterised by low farm gate prices, high concentrate feed costs and high drug/treatment costs. This tends to make the whole business of livestock production less profitable than cultivating crops like tobacco. With the SADC region moving closer to a free trade zone and the signing of some bilateral trade agreements with Zimbabwe and South Africa, Malawi is becoming a dumping ground for cheaper livestock products from these two giants, further weakening the local livestock industry. There are also numerous constraints to agribusiness development that prevent the growth of intensive private sector production system.
The marketing system for some livestock commodities like milk is not favourable. The major outlet of raw milk for a long time was a big parastatal organisation called Malawi Dairy Industries. Even now when the Zimbabwe Dairy Board has penetrated the Dairy Industry, farmers consistently complain of low prices offered by these two organisation. Milk Bulking groups are in a weak negotiating position as they have an extremely restricted range of marketing options. Although many dairy farmers do sell some milk locally, it is illegal to do so. Open selling of raw, unpasturised milk in urban areas is, therefore, discouraged.
Credit services to the livestock sector are limited despite the increasing number of financial institutions. As a whole, smallholder farmers have no ready access to credit facilities, mainly because of lack of adequate collateral and prohibitively high interest rates, making profitable borrowing impossible.
This country situation report has highlighted the numerous production constraints affecting Malawi's livestock sector. However, significant production reserves are available in both the commercial and village livestock sector. In view of the tremendous land pressure in Malawi, it is mandatory that efforts be directed towards improving productivity of the sector. Currently, the Department of Animal Health and Industry in Malawi, with support from DANIDA is facilitating the implementation of strategies that were recommended in a National Livestock Development Master Plan study of 1997, whose main objective is to facilitate the sustainable development of the livestock sector in Malawi.
C.P.348, Chimoio, Mozambique
The number of cattle in Mozambique grew until the Independence period (1975) when there were nearly 1500000 animals. Then the cattle population shrank 80 percent from 1975 to 1994 due to factors like the prevalence of tsetse fly and political wars that raged continuously during that period. As a sequel meat consumption per capita, in Mozambique fell from about three kg per year in the 1960's to an actual 1.2 kg of meat per year. On the other hand this has also resulted in the reduction of animal draught power and low agricultural yields for smallholders.
In the course of all this Mozambique remains a net importer of cattle and livestock products. Livestock contributes five percent to overall agricultural production but this does not consider the very important role of animal traction for land preparation and the subsequent effect on agricultural productivity.
Agricultural yields largely depend on animal work ability which in turn is affected by the animal nutrition status. Both females and males are used for draft purposes. The interaction of both livestock and crop production subsystems are the basis of the smallholder farmers' economy and sustainability. During the dry season at the time when farmers harvest their crops, the use of agricultural by-products may help to minimise the dramatic effects of drought on animal performance.
Agricultural production suffers from the influence of a tropical-to-subtropical climate with an annual rainfall ranging from 350 mm in the region close to the border with Zimbabwe and South Africa to 2500 mm in the high altitude zones of Zambezia (Timberlake and Jordao, 1987).
For the small scale farmers, cattle represent the following assets: security, wealth, status, an important resource for increased agricultural productivity (ploughing), milk, and at the end, meat or cash income.
In this paper an overview of the current livestock situation in Mozambique is given (potential, resources, strategy and current picture). A special emphasis is placed on the factors related to the conception of dry season feeding strategies. This is presented with the main objective of providing elements to better define strategies for dry season feeding of cattle in the country with a positive impact for the region.
Policy framework and current programmes
Three major historical periods characterise livestock development in Mozambique, namely:
Currently a National Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (PROAGRI) is being implemented by the government. Under the programme, actions for decentralisation, reform and modernisation of actual government institutional structures are being implemented. This implies the shifting of the financing of public goods from the government to consumers, producers or producer organisations, with implications in terms of formal structures. A “cost-recovery” service system is gradually being implemented.
Currently the Government is implementing a “Cattle Restocking Programme” under which a considerable number of animals have been imported and distributed to both smallholder and commercial farmers under a credit scheme. The credit scheme is structured so that the beneficiary pays a restocking tax plus the loan itself in the form of offspring.
Over 1000 bovines are imported annually from neighbouring countries under the “Restocking Programme”. So far, figures from DINAP (1999) indicate a “cattle payback rate” of 57 percent for commercial farmers and 41 percent for smallholder farmers.
As a result of this initiative together with the actions under the “Economic Structural Adjustment Programme” (PRE) the national cattle herd has been growing for the last five years. In 1994 there were only 238969 bovines in Mozambique vs 440590 in 1998. This growing trend stresses the need for efficient use of natural resources for cattle raising.
Stakeholder, potentials and constraints
From Independence to about 1986 the state farms were the priority of the government and most of the resources were directed to the state sector. The sector of smallholder farmers was neglected and very few programmes to “revitalise” its production were implemented. From the late eighties the smallholder farming sector became the top priority of the government. Technical initiatives to boost the productivity of the sector are currently being strongly encouraged and supported by the government through a number of programmes. One of the great challenges to the programmes is the conception and implementation of dry season feeding systems for cattle kept by smallholder farmers.
Apart from the sector of smallholder farmers there exists the commercial sector consisting of two types of enterprise: parastatal and private farms. The parastatal farms are now being privatised under the pressure of the “Economic Structural Adjustment Programme” (PRE). Under this programme agro-industries are currently being “revitalised” under the packages of current Economic Adjustment and there is enough room for training for improving agricultural performance through strengthening of national extension services. The reactivation of these agro-industries is increasing the availability of agro-by-products for cattle feeding.
The farming systems are generally traditional and cattle are extensively raised under communal grazing on natural pastures without any investment. Up to 12000000 ha are available for grazing areas. Considering a “carrying capacity” of four to six ha per bovine, it is evident that this area has a theoretical capacity to support at least 2000000 bovines (Conselho de Ministros, 1997) but currently it supports only 440590 head (DINAP, 1999).
These natural pastures have a propensity to be very poor during the April to September dry season. This leads to considerable losses of liveweight, a high mortality rate and negative effects on overall agricultural production since cattle are the main resource for land preparation which usually takes place in the late dry season period.
Of the factors affecting livestock development, diseases are the major limiting factor with emphasis on Trypanosomiasis, Tick-borne diseases and other parasitoses. Nutrition is the second major constraint.
Generally, grass is the major feed resource for cattle production in Mozambique. Although agricultural by-products (residues) and cattle co-exist side by side, these supplements are surprisingly not being systematically used to improve the nutritional status of animals, not even during the dry season.
In 1960 Mozambique exported 25787 m/t of cotton seed cake, 1570 m/t of groundnut cake, 2111 m/t of coconut cake, and 14354 m/t of sugar cane molasses (Morgado, 1962) but ultimately Austral and Berger (1994) reported that annual production of the most common available by-products in Mozambique is:
38700 m/t wheat bran
8730 m/t maize bran
12200 m/t coconut and cotton seed cake
6700 m/t of sugar cane molasses
According to Caravela (1996) 33 percent of these by-products are used by feed factories in manufacturing poultry and pig concentrates and the remainder is available for cattle and export.
Sugarcane tops are highly palatable with good intake characteristics but are low in protein and require supplementation. Attempts to improve sugar cane tops by alkali treatment or with ammonia/urea does not produce the same improvement in feed value as with cereal straws. In Taiwan, with beef cattle, O'Donovan (1970) quoted by O'Donovan (1975) achieved daily liveweight gains of 0.25 kg feeding chopped sugarcane leaves containing five to six percent crude protein.
There are references on the use of citrus pulp for livestock production in Mozambique (Caravela, 1996). Cattle can consume large amounts of this pulp (upto 40 kg a day has been reported) with no apparent harmful effects. However citrus contains little protein. Because of the processing method, citrus pulp is a good source of calcium but it contains little phosphorus and vitamin A.
There is some evidence (Silva and Orskov, 1988 quoted by Manyuchi et al., 1992) that citrus pulp improves the rumen environment for the growth of cellulolytic microbes, thus facilitating a greater rate of fibre digestion and roughage intake. Nevertheless because of the high water content and the perishable nature of the waste, economically it can only be used close to the processing plant.
It is evident that Mozambique has reliable resources that could be used not only to reduce the effects of the dry season but even to produce quality meat which could compete in the regional markets.
There is a lack of a competitive market for livestock products, particularly beef, leading to less incentive for adoption of improved management practices by the farmers. Adoption of new technologies, i.e. dry season feeding practices, to improve livestock production is onerous and farmers are not yet prepared to pay additional costs to raise their animals.
One of the most important constraints hindering development in animal production relates to the rights of tenure, in particular to the common ownership of grazing land. Under communal grazing there is no responsibility for individual farmers for grassland maintenance. This results in systematic deterioration of the herbaceous layer and lower productivity of the pasture with consequent negative effects on animal productivity.
At the same time the livestock extension services are still weak and establishing themselves within the framework of PROAGRI.
Dry season feeding strategies in Mozambique
In Mozambique the effect of the dry season on ruminants may include a whole range of consequences such as: low calving rate (and consequently a reduction in the size of the herd), low birth weight, high calf mortality, low weaning weight, reduced mature body size, and low milk and meat production.
There is political interest by the Mozambican government (Conselho de Ministros, 1997) in order to minimise the effects of the dry season on smallholder cattle production. This approach may increase the impact of productivity of cattle, and stimulate cattle off-take, and increase agricultural yields, thereby providing a better income for the sustainability of the smallholder sector.
In a conception of the dry season feeding strategies there is a multiplicity of factors to be taken into account.
Factors in a conception of “Strategies for dry season feeding of animals”
Factors related to seasonality and production of biomass
One of the problems directly hampering animal production in Mozambique is the seasonal roughage shortage for ruminants. Every year at the end of the dry season, smallholders have increasing difficulty in finding sufficient feed for their animals, not only to maintain their weight but simply to enable them to survive. During the dry season, cattle lose body weight and deaths are numerous. The pattern of cattle behaviour during the dry season is well known, and if the rain delays, tens of thousands of bovines are lost under a “caquexia” often dramatised by animals having to walk long distances for drinking water.
In the smallholder farming sector ruminant production from the veld, especially during the dry season, is constrained by low voluntary feed intake caused by low protein content of the veld. The natural grasses, of low quality, found in abundance in the area after the rains, almost disappear after a few months of the dry period. During the dry season they may reach crude protein contents below five percent. On top of this during the dry season there is a high frequency of “uncontrolled fire” on the veld.
The three most important grasses in Mozambique (in terms of abundance and distribution) are Themeda triandra, Panicum maximum and Hyparrhenia spp. On the other hand bush encroachment (mostly Acacia spp, and Dichrostachys cinerea) may reach up to 20 percent which reduces productivity of the veld. This problem seems to be most acute on commercial farms since in the small scale sector the heavier stocking rates destroy much of the bush. The increased number of goats and the frequency of fire in this sector also possibly keep bush encroachment under control.
The pattern of the availability of grasses is summarised in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Pattern of roughage availability in Mozambique
Factors related to animals and grazing systems
Breeds and genetics
The hardiness, heat tolerance and disease resistance of the indigenous breeds renders them more able to cope with conditions of deficient food intake (UEM. VETAID eDINAP, 1995). Austral and Berger (1994) considered the Landim (Nguni) breed as having good ability to recover growth during the rainy season.
In the opinion of Rocha et al., (1987) it would be difficult to find a better breed than the local Landim (Nguni) for beef production and draught, given the actual level of management in Mozambique.
Meissner et al., (1995) reported evidence that indigenous stock (Nguni) utilize veld more uniformly compared with the Hereford breed. Further studies are in progress to establish whether the ability of Ngunis to adapt to poor nutritive conditions is due to selective grazing or some physiological adaptive mechanism.
Growth and viability
Amaral (1962) reported losses of up to 20 percent of the weight gains made during the rainy season due to feed deficits attributed to droughts, in Mozambique. Alberro (1983) recorded average liveweights of 325 kg and age at slaughter of 5.5 years or more for the Landim breed. The average carcass yield was 51 percent, and the carcass was very lean with not very tender meat.
In general, the greater the weight loss during the dry season, the greater the weight gain during the subsequent wet season (compensatory growth). Actually some of the weight advantage due to dry season supplementation can be lost during the wet season.
The degree to which a sward is grazed will depend upon its digestibility, and to the biomass of the more digestible species.
As stocking rate increases, the grazing pressure rises accordingly, the herbage allowance falls in quantity and quality, competition between animals increases, the opportunity for the animals to select from the pasture is reduced, intake is reduced and the animal is progressively being prevented from satisfying its nutrient requirements. Production per animal thus declines linearly with increasing stocking rate. Overgrazing alters the sward status and worsens the need for dry season feed supplementation.
In Mozambique overgrazing is not widespread, being localised mostly around water sources. Districts with predominantly sandy soils have much lower stocking rates than those on heavier soils. Timberlake and Jordão (1987) indicated six ha per L.U on heavier soils and 10 ha per L.U. on sandy soils.
Management: Animal traction and reproduction
In Mozambique, at the end of the dry season (coincidentally the ploughing period) animals are generally weak, with consequent lower performance at work as a sequel to lack of dry season feeding practices. This leads to improper land preparation and, consequently, low agricultural yields for small scale farmers.
A mature animal at rest expends most of its energy to support basal metabolism but an ox working at steady rate, e.g., ploughing, uses nutrients to generate energy as adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) at six to 10 times the rate as at rest. The recommended breeding season in Mozambique is from December to April so that cows can calve during the October to March rainy season. According to some local reports in Mozambique (SSP Manica 1995) calving interval may be up to 650 days which means a calving rate of about 55 to 56 percent, i.e. cows calve every other year.
The low calving rate and the high calf mortality are considered to be the result of poor nutrition, poor husbandry and poor management. This situation has implications on costs, off-take, production of “calves per cow per productive life” and hence on profitability of the herd.
Protein supplementation is of great importance to maximise reproductive efficiency, and to ensure that growing animals attain target weights for breeding or marketing at a desirable age (Table 1).
Table 1. Effect of supplementation on reproduction and growth (Mozambique)
|Calving percentage (%)||66||82|
|Liveweight at 12 months||183.2||223.2|
|Liveweight at 18 months||205.7||253.4|
|Liveweight at 24 months||243.0||308.3|
|Liveweight at 30 months||321.8||360.0|
* 0.9 kg of Groundnut seed cake per beast per day
Source: Amaral (1962)
Premises for dry season feeding strategies
There is plenty of literature reporting on the successful use of urea-molasses feed mixes for feeding ruminants. Molasses contains one percent sulphur that is essential for rumen microflora activity.
Amaral (1962) stated that under the circumstances prevailing in Mozambique, a strategy should be designed to prevent animals losing weight during the dry season. This can be achieved by providing supplemental feed to ensure the cattle herd has adequate energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals so that productivity can be maintained.
The principles for supplementing cattle involve consideration of:
If the animal is grazing forage of five to seven percent digestible protein on a dry matter basis, it obtains a submarginal to marginal level of protein. Nitrogen (urea or ammonia) should be added. Sulphur will also be required (at a sulphur-to-nitrogen ratio of about 1:12). Supplementing energy or protein to pastured animals is one means of overcoming shortages of grazable forage.
Supplementing adequate protein and phosphorus may keep animals from seeking out toxic plants that are high in protein (Cholosphospermum mopane, Lantana camara, etc.), especially when toxic plants are the only green forage available during the dry season.
There are several formulae for, and types of, urea-molasses blocks. The main components of feed blocks are molasses, salt, minerals, urea, vitamins, bran and cement. Molasses provides readily available energy and minerals (with the exception of phosphorus); urea provides fermentable nitrogen; salt adds sodium chloride and bran supplies some energy, nitrogen and phosphorus; cement imparts hardness and calcium allows better conservation. Feed blocks are one of the simple methods of supplying urea to ruminants under conditions of the smallholder sector.
In Mozambique, Monza et al., (1996) using locally available resources manually elaborated and studied the effect of supplementing energy-protein blocks during the dry season in Nguni heifers. They obtained weight gains of 55 g per day supplementing mineral blocks made of 35 percent of foliages of Leucaena leucocephala, 30 percent molasses, 10 percent urea, 5 percent water, 5 percent salt and 15 percent cement whilst the control group lost 76 g per day. Leng et al., (1991) stated that the presence of anti-nutritional factors, especially phenolic compounds, in tree foliages in general probably enhances their usefulness as supplements since, besides their protective action on proteins, these substances may exert other beneficial effects as natural toxins against parasites, including possible rumen protozoa. The elimination of protozoa from the rumen increases dry matter digestibility of roughage. When the protozoa are excluded from or inhibited in the rumen, the number of bacteria is usually increased (Ørskov, 1992). Elimination of rumen protozoa might reduce the need for supplementation with by-pass protein that could make the multinutrient blocks more economic and suitable for smallholder farms.
Treatment of stovers, straws and pulses
Although shortages of livestock feed occur during the April to September dry season, very few Mozambican farmers store crop residues such as maize stover for the purpose of supplementing the meagre grazing during the dry season. Agro-by-products are widely available (maize bran, cotton seed cake, sunflower seed cake, coconut cake, molasses, etc.).
If feeds could be made more fermentable, this advantage can only be fully exploited if the need for available N for the rumen microbes is met. Various physical and chemical treatments of straws are used to improve their nutritive value and intake.
The use of alkalis for straw treatment
According to SundstOl (1988) the first attempt to improve the digestibility of straw by treatment with alkali was probably made towards the end of the nineteenth century, when in 1895 Lehman in Germany published results from experiments in which straw was boiled in two percent sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution. Further experiments indicated that NaOH could be used at 1.5 percent and treatment time reduced from three days to 10–12 hours without losing effect.
Recently, Meissner et al., (1995) reported that alkaline hydrogen peroxide treatment is a development showing promising results because lignin apparently is dissolved.
The use of non-protein nitrogen (NPN) for straw treatment
In Mozambique, NaOH and ammonia are not so easily available and if they are, the price of the chemicals may be prohibitive. Urea has therefore been studied to a greater extent as a source of ammonia for treatment of straw. One obvious advantage of urea is that it is relatively inert and hence not dangerous to handle as compared to anhydrous ammonia and NaOH and farmers are more or less used to it and sometimes prices are subsidised.
Nevertheless in contrary to forages and “seed cakes” non protein nitrogen (NPN) sources supply nitrogen but not energy so they only partially substitute the conventional protein sources. Non-protein nitrogen is used indirectly by ruminants. NPN is broken down into ammonia in the rumen. The ammonia is converted into microbial protein and the microbes are in turn digested in the small intestine of the ruminant animal. Sulphur should be considered when NPN supplements the diet since the addition of NPN usually increases the N:S ratio and increases the microbial requirement for sulphur if the NPN is used for microbial synthesis (Van Soest, 1994)
Ammonia treatment and/or supplementation
Morgado (1987) reported that the proportion of urea should not go beyond two to three percent in the diet.
Addition of NaOH to urea accelerated hydrolysis but also reduced urea degradation. Ammoniation improves digestibility of all constituents as well as feed intake, and decreases rumen retention time; but Meissner et al., (1995) stated that it seems that in ammoniated straws there is a deficiency in amino acid absorption.
Manyuchi (1990), concluded that it is possible to increase the intake and degradation of untreated straw in the rumen by supplementing untreated straw with small amounts of ammonia treated straw in situations where all other factors necessary for optimum cellulolysis such as pH, rumen ammonia, mineral and vitamin nutrition are kept optimum. This author stressed the relevance of his findings to small holder farming systems in developing countries where lack of financial and capital resources prohibit large scale treatment of straw by the urea-ammonia process.
The addition of urea to straw increases its nitrogen content and thus exerts a favourable influence on rumen microbial fermentation. The addition of molasses provides soluble carbohydrates for effective urea utilisation. The addition of molasses stimulates both urea utilisation and cellulose digestion. Availability of energy in the rumen could be a limiting factor for low quality roughage diets.
In Bangladesh, Preston (1989) reported that lactating Zebu cattle were given ammoniated (urea-ensiled) rice straw and both untreated and treated straw supplemented with grass at 0.4 kg DM per day, rice bran at 0.45 kg DM per day; and oilseed cake at 0.2 kg per litre of milk produced. The treated straw resulted in liveweight gains of 50 g per day while the untreated straw led to a loss of 80 g per day. This shows the importance of urea in minimising the losses of weight in cattle fed poor roughage.
The use of poultry litter for treatment of straw
It has been shown that poultry litter has a valuable role as a source of NPN for ruminants (Ensminger and Olentine, 1978; Perry, 1980; Hadjipanayiotou, 1984 and Rogers and Poore, 1994) provided it is processed by ensiling or deep stacking in order to destroy potentially harmful microorganism (Rogers and Poore, 1994). Poultry litter also contains ammonia which has bactericidal activity and therefore provides protection against the survival of pathogens and may eventually help in eliminating any aflatoxin contamination.
Grinding increases the voluntary consumption of straw leading to increases in digestible energy intake of up to 30 percent. Grinding is only about half as effective as alkali treatment (Jackson, 1978). Chopping is considered to make the fibre more susceptible to microbial enzyme digestion.
The most commonly used physical treatment of the straw on small farms is to soak it in water before feeding it to animals. This washes out the soluble oxalates. Although soaking does not improve protein and crude fibre digestibilities it increases the availability of digestible and metabolisable energy, and hence the production rates of total volatile fatty acids.
Legumes and pasture improvement
Because tropical legumes are C3 species, their digestibility is usually higher than that of tropical grasses even when rumen function is not limited by lack of nitrogen.
Meissner et al., (1995) working with beef steers grazing kikuyu grass and given limited access to Leucaena leucocephala (3 hours per day) reported gains of circa 25 kg per animal over 90 days in Natal.
Under the circumstances prevailing in Mozambique, Timberlake and Jordao (1987) considered the use of Leucaena leucocephala, Alfalfa, and Siratro as promising practices to boost cattle production.
Roothaert and Paterson (1997) have reported that Leucaena leucocephala was the most productive species in Kenya and was becoming popular with the farmers until it was attacked by the leucaena psyllid (Heteropsylla cubana) to which other species like L. diversicola, L. esculenta and L. pallida have shown some degree of tolerance. These workers reported that Sesbania spp. showed early promise but did not withstand intensive cutting management. However, there have not been any cases of leucaena psyllid reported in Mozambique where there is some feeding of Leucaena to cattle (Timberlake and Jordao, 1987). These authors have reported a response in liveweight gain of 30 g per head out of an average intake of 81 g per day of sun dried L. leucocephala leaves supplemented at night to local goats of Central Tanzania.
In Zimbabwe, Dzowela et al., (1997) pointed out the potential of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) to provide browse during the dry season. According to these authors, steers gained 0.22 to 0.34 kg per animal per day over a 30 to 90 day period, i.e. better performance than those of steers on highly fertilised grass pastures where gains were only 0.09 to 0.18 kg per animal day per during the same early dry season period.
Silages and hay
Most tropical grasses do not produce good silages. Many are low in sugar, tend to be coarse, do not pack well, and often have a high water content. In addition, the higher environmental temperatures in the tropics promote extensive fermentation. Usually forage conservation starts very late, April or May, when the nutritive value is extremely low (Caravela, 1996). Nevertheless by supplementing with grass silage and grass hay, Morgado (1962) reported small growth gains of up to 16 kg in 140 dry season days.
Since tropical forages contain fewer minerals during the dry season, more deficiencies might be expected during this time. One of the most striking results of a phosphorus deficiency is the depression of reproductive ability.
Ricca and Combellas (1993) offering mineral mixtures to young bulls grazing for 21 weeks of the dry season found live weight gains of 1.18 kg per day during the first eight weeks and 0.30 kg per day during the remaining 13 weeks.
Smallholder farmers uniquely rely on communal grazing lands. Under these circumstances the land “belongs to everybody and hence belongs to nobody”. Currently the legislation related to land is under reform in Mozambique. To overcome this situation specific recommendations are given in this paper which involve the allocation of lands to groups of smallholder farmers who share the same communal grazing land. This would allow improvements in pasture management and minimise the “tragedy of the commons”.
Considering all the local options, the use of feed blocks for supplementation is considered appropriate for the conditions of smallholder farmers in Mozambique. This conclusion has been made in relation to the following factors:
Evidence from the literature is that the balance among amino acids, glucose and long chain fatty acids (LCFA) determines the productivity and efficiency with which the metabolisable energy is used for growth, work, reproduction and lactation. Multinutrient blocks would contain the main nutrition factors necessary for “rumen microbe welfare”.
Multinutrient blocks may be made at the farm level or in the nearby vicinity cheapening their production and use. A cost:benefit of 1:19 was reported in the Sahelian region under conditions similar to those of the smallholder farmers in Mozambique.
There is a locally elaborated formula of multinutrient blocks which has been tried at field level in Mozambique with encouraging results. This formula includes the use of foliages of Leucaena as the source of nitrogen that could make the multinutrient blocks more suitable for smallholder farms.
Under the recommended communal grazing schemes multinutrient blocks may easily be used as a supplement to standing hay.
The use of legumes is considered a potential possibility (as shade or fence) due to their recognised feeding value and viability in Mozambique where there is currently a considerable level of use of legumes e.g. Leucaena.
Where the use of stovers/straws is possible they should be urea-treated due to the fact that urea is known by most of the farmers and its utilization is less risky than that of other methods of treatment.
Other recommendations that are made stress the need for some selection within local breeds which are known for their hardiness under harsh conditions. Indigenous breeds, although they have a slower growth rate, are likely to be more appropriate for small-holder farmers.
In addition the introduction of weaning processes e.g. “nose plates” is recommended. This would help to shorten calving intervals and hence it is likely to increase calving rate of the herd. Weaning earlier reduces the demands on the cow.
Finally more attention should be given in certain areas to the use of useful by-products such as citrus pulp and sugar cane tops.
Steps should be taken to allow Mozambique to benefit from the regionally available knowledge (namely from Zimbabwe and South Africa) on animal science as well as the experience of suitable dry season feeding practices for cattle. Study tours and bilateral technical co-operation are considered to be of crucial importance in this regard.
There is a need to develop local and regional markets for animal products in order to stimulate the farmers to assume new feeding alternatives/technologies for cattle production particularly during the dry season. Maybe cattle producers located close to the border with Zimbabwe could supply steers to the nearest abattoir facilities existing in Zimbabwe, provided that the sanitary situation within both areas is up to standard.
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