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5. Livestock resources and management *

* Based on papers presented by W Ferguson, A A Ademosun, R von Kaufmann, C Hoste and A Blair Rains and discussion led by D H Hill.

Livestock types
Traditional livestock management systems
Improved animal feeding

The livestock resources of the subhumid zone include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry, though this report focuses on the ruminant species. Population estimates are often unavailable or unreliable, but in general the livestock population of the zone is much below the potential carrying capacity. The cattle population fluctuates widely throughout the year, as transhumant herds are brought down from the north during the dry season and taken back at the onset of the rains. In Nigeria, for example, transhumant cattle account for about 6 million head out of an estimated national herd of 8 to 11 million.

Livestock types

Cattle

The most important factor determining the presence of cattle in the subhumid zone is the incidence of tsetse-transmitted trypanosomiasis. The Zebu breeds (Bos indicus), which are susceptible to trypanosomiasis, have traditionally been found in the northern part of the zone under transhumant conditions, while the trypanotolerant breeds (Bos taurus) have been kept in small sedentary herds in the south. Exotic Bos taurus breeds from the temperate regions, which are highly susceptible to trypanosomiasis, have been imported in small numbers on an experimental basis. In some cases they have been crossed with local types, for example at the government stock farm at Shika in Nigeria, where Friesians have been crossed with White Fulani Zebu, and at the Centre de Recherche Zootechnique de Minankro-Bouaké in Ivory Coast, where N'Dama x Jersey crosses have been studied. These exotic breeds and their crosses are unlikely to feature prominently in development programmes in the subhumid zone for some time, until production and management systems have been improved substantially.

There also seems only limited scope at present for moving indigenous breeds into parts of the subhumid zone where they have not been kept traditionally. Zebu breeds, with their higher milk potential, have been kept in the southern part of the zone under prophylactic treatment for trypanosomiasis, though the management and veterinary requirements are very high. The trypanotolerant breeds, on the other hand, often appear better adapted to the moister, shadier parts of the zone and when kept in drier areas lose condition and are more susceptible to disease. They also tend to be less attractive to the pastoralists of the northern areas.

Mason (1951) identified 12 breeds of Zebu cattle in West Africa, classified as short- and long-horned types. In a survey carried out in northern Nigeria, Lamorde and Franti identified 51% of the cattle as Bunaji (White Fulani) with medium to long horns, followed by 14% Rahaji (Red Bororo) with long lyre-shaped horns. They found 11. 5% medium-horned Adamawa Gudali, 11. 5% short-horned Sokoto Gudali and the remaining 12% divided between several other breeds. In other parts of the zone, different breeds assume greater importance.

In the past, it was widely believed that the local Zebu breeds were poor producers, but it has been shown that these cattle, under proper feeding and management, can achieve favourable production levels. The white Fulani has been widely recognized in Nigeria as a good dual-purpose animal. Oyenuga (1967) stresses these qualities by quoting a study carried out by Hartley and Baker (1935) reporting milk yields of 1 082 kg over 305 days, with 7.5% butterfat. Hill (1956) reports milk yields of 2 475 kg over the same period from White Fulani cows at the University of Ibadan farm. Shaw and Colville (1950) observe that:

This breed has given exceptionally good results, responding well to improved feeding and management. Cattle under these conditions have reached 9.5 cwt (479 kg) in liveweight at 4 years old and as much as 12 cwt (605 kg) at 6 years old, killing out at 50% of their liveweight.

Productivity parameters of the White Fulani have been compared with data on 12 other indigenous breeds maintained under similar management conditions (ILCA, 1978), showing this breed to be considerably above average for all the main production traits, including calving interval, milk production and growth. In addition, a herd of White Fulani has been kept successfully in a lightly tsetse-infested area at the University of Ibadan farm for many years.

The trypanotolerant cattle can be divided into two main types, the N'Dama and the West African Shorthorns, with a series of intermediate breeding populations. Among these groups, 11 breeds can be recognized in West and Central Africa (ILCA, 1979). Five breeds have also been identified which represent crosses between Zebu and N'Dama or Shorthorn types.

Debate has gone on for some time concerning the productivity of the trypanotolerant breeds, with little precise information available. Summarizing the performance of an experimental Muturu herd kept over the period 1952 to 1956 in the derived savanna zone of Nigeria, Ferguson (1967a) draws attention to their high reproductive capacity and promising beef production potential. However, he also points out that they might not be attractive to local producers because their milk production tends to be low under traditional husbandry conditions. Breeding stock are not readily available, and reproductive performance often appears to be de-pressed under trypanosomiasis challenge. By 1958, however, the qualities of the Muturu had been sufficiently recognized in Nigeria to prompt the creation of a Muturu 'reserve' area for the maintenance of a pure Muturu population in the southern half of Ondo Province.

Hill reported during the Symposium that the largest N'Dama multiplication herd is kept on the Kolo Ranch in Zaire, with 20 000 head in an area virtually free of tsetse. Under good management, the reproductive -performance on this ranch has been satisfactory and any problems involved in transferring animals to areas of higher tsetse challenge have been solved by treating them with trypanocidal drugs for the first few months after they are moved.

Blair Rains also reported during the symposium that by feeding supplementary phosphorus to N'Dama cattle in The Gambia larger animals were produced which were successfully used for draught and milk production. Phosphorus was fed to cows three months before calving and throughout lactation, and the liveweights of the calves and dams at weaning were significantly increased. However, because of the cost of the phosphates, this practice could not be justified economically.

In a recent survey of the use and potential of trypanotolerant livestock in 18 countries of West and Central Africa (ILCA, 1979), 30 situations were identified where sufficient information was available on trypanotolerant cattle to estimate the main production traits under traditional and improved management and various levels of tsetse infestation. The traits evaluated were reproductive performance, cow and calf viability, milk production, growth and cow body weight. These were used to build up an index of total weight of calf plus liveweight equivalent of milk produced annually, both per cow and per 100 kg of cow maintained per year. Thus, production can be related directly to maintenance costs in terms of the number and size of animals which have to be supported. On the basis of these indices, it was shown that the productivity of trypanotolerant cattle per unit weight of cow maintained under light tsetse challenge is only 4% lower than that of Zebu and other indigenous cattle types kept in tsetse-free areas throughout Africa. It was also shown that the productivity of trypanotolerant animals was 30% lower under traditional conditions than with improved management, and that productivity was 27% lower under medium tsetse infestation and 53% lower under high infestation, compared with levels achieved under conditions of light infestation.

These comparisons suggest, first, that the productivity of trypanotolerant cattle relative to other indigenous types may be much higher than previously assumed; second, that, in certain circumstances, plans for increased utilization of trypanotolerant cattle may well be immediately justified; and, third, that more accurate evaluation of productivity is called for in relation to the degree of trypanosome infection.

Although it is difficult to determine the actual productivity of cattle kept in the subhumid zone, figures based on the Nigerian cattle industry as a whole may be reasonable indicators. Van Raay (1975) reports daily milk yields of 0.77 kg per lactating cow, and the Nigerian Livestock and Meat Authority reported in 1971 an average annual offtake of 9 to 10%, with carcass weights averaging 128 kg and a dressing out percentage of 47%. Annual production can probably be estimated reasonably at 35 kg of weaned calf per cow. Even assuming a fair margin for error, these figures indicate an enormous difference between potential and actual productivity, attributable to inadequate management, poor nutrition and disease.

Sheep and Goats

Both the transhumant and sedentarized pastoralists of the subhumid zone keep flocks of sheep and goats, but most of the small ruminants in the area are kept by farmers, villagers and townspeople. These animals are the main source of red meat in the rural areas. In Nigeria, it is estimated that there are about as many sheep as cattle and about three times as many goats. Goats are particularly useful because their ability to browse ensures them an adequate diet in areas where grazing is in short supply, and, though they are not generally milked in West Africa, they can yield half a litre or more a day.

Mason (1951) classifies the hairy, thin-tailed sheep of West Africa as long-legged and dwarf types. There are several varieties of long-legged Fulani sheep, with a number of local names. Their height ranges from 65 to 75 cm at withers. The West African Dwarf sheep, also called Fouta Djallon or Djallonké, occur throughout the region south of the 14th parallel, kept in small numbers by settled farmers and villagers. They are trypanotolerant and hardy.

West African goats also vary in size from the dwarf variety of the more humid areas to the large animals kept in the semi-desert regions, with a number of intermediate types (Mason, 1951). The West African Dwarf goats correspond closely in name, size and distribution with the West African Dwarf sheep, and they are also trypanotolerant.

The ILCA study of trypanotolerant livestock (1979) included a consideration of the productivity of West African Dwarf sheep and goats. Production information on small ruminants in the region is scarce, but indices were built up for sheep and goats wherever possible, based on the weight of 5-month-old young produced per 10 kg of adult female maintained per year. There were sufficient data to compare indices for sheep in nine locations and for goats in three. The results of the survey suggest that productivity per unit weight of female maintained can well be at least as high for the small trypanotolerant breeds as for a range of other indigenous types in non-tsetse challenge areas throughout Africa. Thus, as in the case of cattle, increased utilization and more accurate evaluation of the productivity of these breeds would appear well justified.

It was not possible to compare the productivity of cattle with that of sheep and goats using the ILCA indices, but the data obtained suggest that small ruminants may be more productive. In an analysis of the economics of pasture improvement and beef production in the subhumid zone of Togo, Doppler (1979) concludes that the cattle available at present are insufficient to utilize the fallow land resources available in the zone. He suggests that the production of sheep and goats, which have much higher reproduction rates than cattle, should be examined as an economically attractive alternative to cattle production. The risks likely to he experienced with local breeds seem acceptable and consumers in many areas prefer sheep and goat meat to beef.

Traditional livestock management systems

Any discussion of livestock production in the subhumid zone must centre on the pastoralist Fulani, since their flocks and herds account for the great majority of livestock in the region. In Nigeria, the transhumant and semi-settled producers provide an annual offtake of about 790 000 cattle.

The pattern of livestock production in the zone has been shaped by environmental and historical factors. Important considerations are the availability of grazing, as determined by soils, climate, fire and cultivation, and the incidence of disease, particularly of tsetse-transmitted trypanosomiasis. Traditional patterns of transhumance have been affected in recent years by the droughts in the Sahel and increased arable farming in the northern areas, as well as by expanding agriculture in the subhumid zone itself. Actual livestock production in the zone is still far below its potential carrying capacity: in Nigeria, where the present cattle population in the subhumid zone is about 2 million, the potential carrying capacity has been estimated at 13.5 million, while the semi-arid zone to the north is considered dangerously overstocked with a cattle population of about 6 million.

Pastoralist groups are often classified according to their livestock production systems into such categories as transhumant, semi-transhumant, semi-settled and settled (see Johnson, 1969; Salzman, 1971; van Raay, 1975). They may also be classified according to their cultural and livestock-rearing practices (see de St. Croix, 1945; Hopen, 1958; Stenning, 1959; van Raay and de Leeuw, 1974), or according to ethnic typologies. Unfortunately, when applied in the field, none of these classification systems produces clear, distinct categories, and they often do not correspond with each other. For example, Dupire (1970) notes:

it is very difficult to apply a classification system to the sedentary and semi-nomadic Fulani (Fulbe ladde, Farfarou) of these areas.... Those of western Niger are not completely settled: their villages are often composed of scattered houses which are easily moved.... Groups or individuals shift from one type of economy to another.

Moreover, a distinction needs to he made between different types of movement. Transhumance (kodal) is the pattern of regular movement between areas according to the season, while migration is a specific movement to a new area. Stenning (1957) describes two types of migration among the Fulani: the migratory flight (perol) that generally occurs when political events force a group to flee its traditional territory and take refuge in a new area, and migratory drift ('eggol), when a group gradually moves away from its former grazing lands and does not return.

Keeping these reservations in mind, it is possible to classify the Fulani of Nigeria's subhumid zone into four groups on the basis of their livestock production systems. The fully mobile pastoralists practice transhumance, generally moving south during the dry season and north during the rains. This group is widely distributed throughout the savanna regions of Nigeria. Livestock holdings tend to be large: the average family keeps over 80 head of cattle, as a conservative estimate, and about 20 to 40 sheep and goats. Though they recognize larger groupings, such as lineages and clans, the most important units are the household camps and the small groups which move together in the annual pattern of transhumance.

The transhumant pattern is determined by the nutritional and health needs of the livestock and the social and economic needs of the pastoralists. Herds are moved in search of grazing and water, and areas of trypanosomiasis and other disease are avoided. Movement is also determined by the location of farms, which provide stubble grazing, markets and other amenities. The groups tend to move more frequently during the dry season, but they never establish permanent camps, even during the rains. The animals are taken out from the temporary camps to graze during the day and are tethered at night.

The less mobile pastoralists, by contrast, maintain a permanent base camp where a few family members, especially the elderly, and some of the stock, particularly cows in milk, remain all year, while the others move away during the dry season and return during the rains. Although these groups practice some cultivation, livestock production is still their most important economic activity (Awogbade, 1977), and they prefer to hire outsiders to carry out farm work whenever possible. Their herds and flocks tend to be smaller than those of the fully mobile pastoralists, but their animal husbandry practices, forms of economic cooperation and social organization are very similar. Several cases have been recorded of less mobile Fulani groups who have eventually chosen a more settled life-style (Hopen, 1958), and several researchers have claimed that this pattern is an intermediate stage leading to full sedentarization. Once settled, it seems that groups seldom revert to transhumance, although prior to full sedentarization, 'those Fulbe who do not farm... at any given time will include family households which farmed a year or two previously but were not farming at the moment of enquiry' (Hopen, 1958).

The semi-settled pastoralists keep smaller herds than the two more mobile groups, and agriculture and livestock production are both important economic activities. These pastoralists tend to remain in permanent settlement most of the year, moving with their herds only towards the end of the dry season in search of water and grazing. Like the mobile Fulani, their movements are often from north to south during the dry season, or they may move on to flood plains along rivers, as for example along the Niger River in Kwara State of Nigeria (Adegboye et al., 1978). Temporary shelters are constructed and crops are grown and harvested at the beginning of the rainy season before moving back to the north. In other cases, as in the northern parts of central Africa, crops are planted and cultivated during a prolonged stay on the journey southwards and harvested as the pastoralists return north. These semi-settled pastoralists are not strictly opposed to intermarriage with agricultural groups. For this reason they have often become more integrated into the social and political life of the areas where they live.

The fully settled Fulani remain in permanent homesteads throughout the year. They practice agriculture, with their livestock taken out to graze every day by children or hired herdsmen and penned at night. The category of settled Fulani also includes some who live in urban areas but own herds of cattle elsewhere on an absentee basis.

Settled farmers from other ethnic groups keep livestock farther south in the subhumid zone, usually of the trypanotolerant breeds. Their animals are grazed near the homesteads during the day after milking in the morning, and are usually penned at night, though in some cases night grazing may be practiced. In some areas, cattle are left free to wander during the day in the dry season after the crops have been harvested. They tend to move to well watered areas where they graze and water on their own. Calves may be penned during the day and allowed to suckle briefly when the cows return from grazing in order to induce the letdown of milk. During milking, they may be tied to the forelegs of their dams, and then allowed to suckle again after milking. After three months, they are grazed in separate herds, and at six or seven months they are weaned and allowed to graze with the main herd (Oppong, 1971). Sheep and goats are often left to roam freely during the dry season, but are tethered away from the fields once the crops are planted. They are often kept in the family compound at night.

Transhumant Production Systems: Two Examples

Transhumant patterns have been documented in some detail by Hopen (1958) for the Gwandu Fulbe of Nigeria, who move south to the flood plains of the Sokoto River and beyond during the dry season and return north during the rains. From a sample of 100 households, 66 practiced some agriculture, while the rest depended entirely on livestock production. These production patterns appear to be fairly independent of the size of household herds. Farming, when it does occur, is on a very small scale and does not require permanent settlement. Small fields are cultivated in the dry-season areas, and millet is harvested early in the wet season using all the family manpower gathered together before the movement back to the north.

The distance covered during the average transhumant cycle is about 240 kms, with approximately one-fourth of the groups moving over 320 kms. The groups move according to certain seasons. During the wet dungu season (July to the end of September), scattered pastoralist households come together to form larger camps. These camps move frequently -every 3 to 10 days on average - to avoid insects and disease, soggy ground and possibly cattle tax collectors. Only temporary shelters are erected, made of grass in a beehive shape. Part of the household might remain near these shelters while the boys and young men move the herds around the area in search of grazing. During this season, the Fulani attend local markets to obtain information on grazing conditions, the incidence of disease and the movement of the tax collectors.

As the dry 'yawal season begins (October to the end of December), the Fulani move their cattle down the valley of the Sokoto River, stopping along the way to graze crop residues from newly harvested fields. Those Fulani who practice cultivation then return to their own plots, while the others keep their cattle on the fields surrounding local villages in return for token gifts. As the main dabunde dry season continues, they tend to move their herds onto the flood plains, where their shelters are simple windscreens. During ceedu at the height of the dry season (end of February to the end of April), little milk is available and hunger is widespread. This is the period in which the herds are moved farthest south, to the banks of the Niger River, and pastures are burnt by the local farmers.

The rains begin during seeto (early May to June). When planting begins, the herds are moved away from the cultivated areas. Those Fulani who practise agriculture keep their animals nearby until after the millet harvest, while the more mobile Fulani start moving immediately towards the northern wet-season grazing area.

Stenning (1959) describes the transhumant pattern of the Borno Wo'daa'be Fulani in Nigeria who move between the Gana River in the north, the central Fune-Damaturu area, the Gujba plains and the Biu foothills in the south. These Fulani move according to a lunar cycle:

in which the auspicious days for moving camp occur three times weekly. Camp is therefore pitched in one spot for three days, at another for two days, and at yet another for two days, until the final four days of the month are reached when no move is made until either the new moon has been seen or... a concensus of opinion among elders... fixes the start of the new pastoral month.

The pattern of transhumance was recorded for a sample of 168 households. The majority of groups spend the wet season in the central Fune-Damaturu region and begin moving south in November, shifting camp about every six days. By January, they reach their dry-season grazing areas on the Gulba plains. Here, the camps are situated near sources of water, rather than near grazing, and the cattle have to travel long distances from the camps to their pastures, losing condition in the process. The grazing periods are interrupted, generally twice a day, to take the cattle back to be watered. Watering during this season also requires considerable labour.

As the dry season continues, the animals are dispersed in small herds to take the fullest advantage of the remaining grazing. When the first rains come, the pastoralists await news from the north: they normally only begin moving their herds when they have reliable information that the rainy season has actually begun, generally in July. During the wet season, they shift camp frequently to avoid muddy conditions, but generally move only short distances. The women, in particular, prefer to remain close to villages where they can sell their milk and butter.

A second pattern of transhumance occurs among other Fulani groups of the same lineage. These pastoralists move north during the dry season, digging shallow wells in the bed of the Gana River. When new grass is reported in the wet-season grazing area, they move back south.

A special situation is also reported from Cameroon where transhumant movement occurs in response to topographical conditions. During the rainy season, the lowland plains become flooded, restricting grazing to the plateau areas. As the dry season progresses, the quality of the grasses on the plateaux declines and the animals are brought down to lush pastures on the flood plains.

A Model of Livestock Production in the Subhumid Zone

Figure 5 presents a basic schematic model of livestock production in the subhumid zone, derived by von Kaufmann from simulation work on the agricultural sector in Nigeria carried out by a team from Michigan State University (Johnson et al., 1971). The model shows the linkages between the most prominent features of the production systems of the zone, with the level of total digestible nutrients (TDN) taken as the principal factor constraining production, though this, in fact, has yet to be proven. Changes in variables can be worked through the model to reveal their effects on such factors as production, farm income and foreign exchange earnings. The sensitivity analysis conducted by the Michigan State University team strongly suggests that more significant changes in livestock production are likely to be induced by changes in animal nutrition levels than by any other factor.

The total digestible nutrients (TDN) available to animals kept under the traditional livestock production system appear to be a function of four main factors: the quantity and quality of natural grazing available, the level of tsetse infestation and the degree of trypanosome infectivity, the size of the human population and the level of subsistence and cash cropping, and the degree of mobility which determines the availability of grazing during the dry season. These four factors are depicted across the top of Figure 5, along with the links to the two sources of feed available to traditional pastoralists, natural grazing and crop residues.

The TDN available from natural grazing is basically a function of the area of grazing available and the herbage yield per ha. In Nigeria, de Leeuw (1978a) estimates that the natural grazing available in the subhumid zone extends over an area of 450 000 km2. Given a fairly conservative estimate of annual herbage yields of 4 to 6 tonnes DM per ha, this area could support about 13. 5 million cattle, which is probably more than the present total cattle population of the country.

Not all the potential grazing land in the subhumid zone can be safely used by livestock producers, however, because of the risk of trypanosomiasis in areas which are infested by tsetse. Nevertheless, during the dry season the low ambient humidity and the reduction in shade from trees and shrubs drive the tsetse flies into those restricted parts of the environment which offer more shade and moisture. The riverine tsetse species retreat to streams and drainage lines where there is surface water and a relatively dense tree canopy. The savanna species move to shaded 'islands', particularly patches of Isoberlinia doka or riparian woodland. Thus the transhumant pastoralists are able to utilize a larger proportion of the subhumid zone precisely at a time when grazing is scarce in the drier areas to the north. In some parts of the zone, land has also been freed of tsetse by government clearing and spraying programmes and is safe for grazing on a year-round basis. The amount of land freed in this way is a function of government development priorities and the resources available, but not all of this land necessarily becomes available for grazing: a significant proportion is taken up for arable farming.

Figure 5. A model of traditional livestock production in the subhumid zone

The amount of crop residues available for grazing is determined by the types of crops grown, the relationships between pastoralists and farmers and the amount of land under cultivation, which in turn is a function of the number of people cropping for subsistence and the level of cash cropping. As there are few purchased inputs and yields tend to be static, the level of cash cropping is a function primarily of the producer prices obtained. There is also competition for crop-residue grazing between the sedentary pastoralists and the transhumant producers who pass through the crop lands during their southward movement after the harvest season.

Whatever the total primary production and the level of available TDN, secondary production of the animals themselves is also a function of the management system employed. Management is determined to a considerable extent by the specific aims of the animal producers. In traditional animal production systems, the subsistence and security of the herd-owners are of paramount importance, though producer prices also influence management decisions to some extent. At present, milk rather than meat appears to be the most important product of the system, both for the sustenance of the livestock producers and their dependents and as a source of cash income used to purchase grain and other items. The second production goal is the maintenance and increase of the herd, as this is necessary for maximizing both subsistence and income. Large herds also serve as a buffer in case of losses from disease or drought. Sales of stock are also important to the economy of all pastoralists, hut there is little evidence that cattle are maintained in any special way with a view to maximizing meat production.

One of the most important features of livestock production in the subhumid zone is that virtually the entire industry fits into this traditional production model. In spite of government efforts over many years, production based on grazing reserves, ranches, feedlots and dairy farms has never reached significant levels. This experience suggests that improvements in the system, if they are to bring about significant change, will have to be directed towards the existing traditional producers rather than trying to introduce totally new forms of production.

Sheep and Goat Production

It is generally recognized that more attention should be paid to sheep and goat production, but little concrete information is available to suggest strategies for increasing the productivity of these species. Sheep and goats, to some extent, can make use of forage not used by cattle, and they fill a different niche in the subsistence strategy of pastoralists and farmers. In Nigeria, for instance, the annual offtake rate for sheep and goats is about 45% and they contribute about 30% of total meat consumption.

The disease and nutritional problems of sheep and goats merit increased attention. In Senegal, disease problems include coccidiosis and helminthiasis, and the animals lose weight during the dry season. They are also affected adversely by a mould which grows on the grass at the beginning of the rains. In Togo, government policy is to encourage sheep and goat production to meet human nutritional needs. Farmers are encouraged to keep small flocks and there is a law against slaughtering females under eight years old, though this has proven impossible to enforce.

Improved animal feeding

The low quality of natural savanna grazing, particularly during the dry season when the crude protein content of the grasses may be as low as 2%, suggests the potential role of supplementary feeding with concentrate mixtures rich in protein. A sensitivity analysis by Johnson et al. (1971) indicates that improved feeding will have a greater impact on livestock production than any other management strategy, while comparisons of various feeding strategies carried out by de Leeuw, and Agishi (1978) suggest that the most attractive approach in economic terms would he natural savanna grazing with supplementation (see Table 11). Thus, the possibilities for supplementary livestock feeding in the subhumid zone merit further discussion.

Under present conditions, there is little likelihood that traditional livestock producers will he able to generate sufficient financial resources on their own to provide supplements to their herds. The supplementary feeding which has been carried out in the region to date has been provided through government agencies.

A supplementary feeding project was initiated in northern Nigeria in 1962/63 under the Fulani Amenities Programme in order to reduce weight loss in cattle during the dry season. Supplements were provided at the outset on a wholly subsidized basis, with the intention of gradually phasing out the subsidy element over a six-year period (Ogunfowora et al., 1975). During the first year, the project was limited to Adamawa Province and the Zaria and Katsina areas, hut during the second year it was expanded to include Bornu and Plateau Provinces. With the creation of states in Nigeria in 1967, each of the new states launched a supplementation project. The recent Sahelian droughts, which led to a drastic reduction in available herbage and loss of livestock, emphasized the value of supplementary feeding, and the project was expanded considerably. For instance, in the former North Eastern State only 290 tonnes of cottonseed were distributed to livestock producers in 1970/71, whereas by 1974/75, 3 949 tonnes of supplementary feed were distributed, composed of cottonseed, groundnut cake, dried brewer's grains and gawo pods (fruit of Acacia albida).

The optimum amount and composition of supplementary feeds has never been determined because knowledge of animal nutrition requirements in the tropics is still deficient. The project in Nigeria aimed at providing 0.5 to 1.5 kg of supplement daily for each animal throughout the dry season. It was estimated that this level of supplementation would enable the animals to maintain the weight they had reached at the end of the rains. Rations originally consisted of equal parts of groundnut cake and cottonseed plus 2% salt. As demand for the supplements soon exceeded supply, new feeds were introduced: gawo pods around Maiduguri and groundnut tops in Sokoto (Ogunfowora et al., 1975).

The project has suffered from serious problems, due primarily to an inadequate transport system, lack of storage facilities, insufficient personnel to handle the procurement and distribution of feeds, profiteering by unscrupulous businessmen and restrictive government financial controls which have led to sporadic feed shortages. The quantities of feed provided, totalling about 10 400 tonnes in 1974/75, have been very small compared with the requirements of the national livestock population during the six-month dry season from December to June. It has been estimated that the total supplementary feed requirements for cattle, sheep and goats in Nigeria may he well over one million tonnes per annum, with feeding periods varying from 30 days at the eighth parallel to 7. 5 months above the 13th parallel. Given the insufficient quantities of feed provided, the impact of this project on the traditional livestock production system has been limited, particularly as a considerable proportion of the feed available has been allocated to government farms and commercial cattle ranches.

There is no record that this project was ever subjected to economic analysis, though the costs have proven to be substantial. Partly, this is because many ingredients of supplementary feeds have to be imported, particularly vitamin and mineral supplements. Although it is clear that supplementary feeding leads to improved animal performance, the costs and benefits need to be better understood, and opportunities need to be investigated for the increased use of local feeds.

Another possibility for improved livestock feeding would be management systems which allow animals to graze for longer periods of the day. Whereas traditionally herded cattle rarely graze more than eight hours a day, cattle allowed to graze freely in paddocks graze from nine to ten hours. In addition, herded cattle graze mostly during the hottest time of the day, while paddocked, unherded cattle graze mostly during the cooler parts of the day and often into the night. De Leeuw (personal communication) found that 20 to 35% of the grazing of unherded cattle occurred between 18.00 and 06.00 h, which suggests that the provision of night grazing could increase liveweight gains considerably. Strategies for increasing grazing time could also be combined with various programmes for pasture improvement, as described in the chapter on fodder resources and pasture management.


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