, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 625-637
Date: 03 Aug 2010

Goat Production and Fodder Leaves Offered by Local Villagers in the Mid-Hills of Nepal

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Abstract

More than 50% of Nepal’s population lives in the hill regions, usually with small land holdings, and over 60% are considered below the poverty line. Livestock, and particularly goats, provide these small-scale farmers with about 55% of their on-farm income. We studied goat production in Katteldanda, a mid-hill village of 78 households, mainly Brahmins, in Ghorka District. Subsistence farmers raise six or seven goats and one or two buffalo, and cultivate mainly maize, millet and rice. Tree fodder constituted about 70% of dry matter intake of goats for large parts of the year and was collected by lopping branches from trees on upland, rain-watered, private terraces (bari) near the household compound. Local farmers ranked the fodder trees they considered best and we measured the actual fodder they offered to goats. In addition, we evaluated and ranked 23 fodder species on the basis of laboratory in vitro nutritional and metabolizable energy yields. Using a Mantel test, a significant correlation was found between what the farmers thought was best fodder and fodder offered to goats (Mantel r = 0.398; P = 0.037) but non-significant correlations were found between either what the farmers thought was best fodder or fodder offered to goats and laboratory rankings (Mantel r = −0.027; P = 0.49 and Mantel r = 0.187; P = 0.18, respectively). We concluded that biomass produced and availability throughout the year, in addition to nutritional and energy yield, are important criteria for selecting fodder trees for goat production.