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Ruminal Fermentation and Nutrient Digestion in West African Dwarf (WAD) Sheep Fed Leucaena leucocephala Supplemental Diets


Dry season feeding has always posed a problem for ruminant nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. The availability of browse plants or multi-purpose trees during this period has led to their incorporation in the farming systems. The need therefore to investigate the feeding value and fermentation profiles of WAD sheep fed grass hay with supplemental Leucaena leucocephala formed the objective of this study. Eight 18–24 months old West African Dwarf (WAD) sheep (28.8±4.2 kg body weight) were used in the study. Four of the sheep were fistulated ruminally and rumen pH, ammonia and volatile fatty acid were measured. Dried leaves of L. leucocephala were offered at two levels (25 and 50% of DMI, diets D25% and D50%, respectively) as supplement to a basal hay diet. The basal hay diet without supplement was the control diet. Diet D25% had a higher (p <0.05) ruminal ammonia concentration than the control, while diet D50% had a higher (p <0.05) total volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration compared to both the control and D25% diets, respectively. Diet D25% had a marginal increase of 6.7% N- retention over the control diet. Organic matter digestibility (OMD) decreased (p <0.05) with level of supplementation. Animals on D50%, D25% and the control diets lost 14, 7.3 and 5%, respectively, of retained energy leading to a negative energy balance. Overall results suggest that a 25% level of supplementation with leucaena gave the best outcome even though a range of 25–50% could be fed during periods of basal diet scarcity.

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Correspondence to I. I. Osakwe.

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Osakwe, I.I., Steingass, H. Ruminal Fermentation and Nutrient Digestion in West African Dwarf (WAD) Sheep Fed Leucaena leucocephala Supplemental Diets. Agroforest Syst 67, 129–133 (2006).

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  • Browse plant
  • Energy balance
  • Rumen ammonia
  • Sheep