Seasonal nutritional characteristics of livestock diets in a nomadic pastoral ecosystem.

Published online
16 Dec 1986
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Coppock, D. L. & Swift, D. M. & Ellis, J. E.

Publication language
Africa South of Sahara & Kenya


Nutrient concn for diets of livestock managed by the Ngisonyoka Turkana in arid NW Kenya were determined throughout 1 annual cycle, using bite-count methods of feeding observation and forage collection and standard procedures for forage chemical analysis. Dietary CP, cell solubles (CS), and in vitro DDM contents were highest for all species during brief wet periods (Apr.-May) and declined variously thereafter, with associated increases in dietary holocellulose and lignin contents. Small-bodied species and/or those that relied heavily on non-herbaceous forage (goats, sheep and camels) typically showed diets with higher CP and CS and lower total fibre (holocellulose + lignin) contents than those of the large grazers (cattle and donkeys). Camel diets were typically the lowest in terms of in vitro DDM content. Evaluation of seasonal diet quality with respect to National Research Council feeding standards for maintenance indicated that potential deficits in dietary N concn were most likely for cattle and least likely for camels during dry periods, and that all diets were consistently deficient in DE content, particularly those of camels. However, patterns of livestock performance observed appear to discount the applicability of feeding standards developed elsewhere.

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