Inadequate quantity and quality of feed resources are major constraints limiting milk production and reproductive performance of dairy cattle in Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to assess dairy cattle feed resources, feeding practices, the farmers' perceived ranking of feed resources, causes of feed shortage, and coping strategies to feed scarcity in smallholder dairy system in selected district towns of Jimma Zone, Ethiopia. Data were obtained by interviewing 52 randomly selected smallholder dairy farmers using structured questionnaires and through direct observations. Results showed that 20 main feed types used by dairy farmers were identified and categorized into natural pastures, crop residues, green feeds, hay, agro-industrial by-products, concentrate mix, and non-conventional feeds. Overall, natural pasture (mean rank = 0.453), non-conventional feeds (0.307), cut green feeds (0.086), conserved hay (0.076), crop residues (0.049), and concentrate feeds (0.029) were ranked as the main feed resources in decreasing order of importance. Natural pasture grazing (92.2% of the respondents), hay (35.6%), and green feeds (29.4%) were the most important conventional basal feeds used. Wheat bran (11.7% of the respondents) followed by commercial concentrate mix (9.4%), Noug seedcake (8.3%), grain (7.8%), and molasses (6.1%) were the concentrate supplements used. Overall, bulule-flour mill leftovers (67.2% of the farmers), bean and pea hulls (57.2%) and atella-local brew by-product (37.2%), enset (Ensete ventricosum, 34.4%), and sugarcane top (32.2%) were the non-conventional feeds available and used during feed scarcity. Barley and teff (Eragrostis teff) straws and maize and sorghum stovers were the main crop residues used in the dry seasons. Overall, 73.9, 12.2, 12.2, and 1.7% of the respondents practiced free grazing, zero grazing, semi-zero, and a combination of zero- and free-grazing systems, respectively. Over 84% of the respondents in the dry season and 50% in the wet season reported experiencing a shortage of feeds. Poor feed availability (73.9% of the respondents) was reported as the main causes of feed shortage followed by shortage of pastureland (7.8%). Increased use of bulule (55.6% of the respondents), crop residues (16.1%), non-conventional feed resources (14.4%), conserved hay (11.1%), purchased green feeds and concentrates (1.1%), and reducing herd size (1.1%) were the farmers' adopted coping strategies to mitigate feed shortage. It is suggested that technical intervention to improve the quality and efficient utilization of the existing feed resources is crucial to enable sustainable feed supply and boost milk production. Technologies that are easy to adopt, feasible, and low cost are also needed to be developed in participatory manner.

Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftTropical Animal Health and Production
Nummer van het tijdschrift5
Pagina's (van-tot)923-935
Aantal pagina's13
StatusGepubliceerd - 2017

ID: 2333371