The realization of the importance of browse in meeting the nutritional needs of ruminants in the dry season in the tropics has put a serious pressure on the already known browse plants. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the nutritive value of Ficus thonningii (FT), which is a less known fodder tree.
A total of 25 West African dwarf goats (age range = 7‐9 months, live weight range = 5.0‐7.5 kg) were used for the study, and lasted for 98 days. FT was fed with Panicum maximum (PM) grass in different proportions of 0:100 (only grass), 25:75, 50:50, 75:25 and 100:0 (only Ficus) to five groups of goats. A completely randomized design was used to collect data on feed intake, digestibility, weight gain and nitrogen utilization.
Results showed that FT is higher in crude protein (CP) (20.51 per cent) and lower in neutral detergent fibre (NDF) (55.79 per cent) than PM (CP = 8.25 per cent, NDF = 76.16 per cent). Dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), CP intakes (g/d/kg w0.75) improved significantly with more FT in the diet and were best in 75 per cent FT (values = 79.84, 76.72 and 14.78, respectively) and lowest in solely PM (corresponding values = 21.06, 18.21 and 1.59). Weight gain (g/d) patterned nutrient intake and were best in 50 and 75 per cent FT (mean = 14.78) and least in solely PM (5.36). Digestibility values were generally good, but highest in 50 per cent FT, similar in 25, 75 and 100 per cent FT and least in solely PM. Nitrogen balance (g/d) and retention (per cent) were highest and similar in both 50 and 75 per cent FT (mean = 4.8 and 48.79) and lowest in solely grass (0.24 and 14.25).
FT displays no practical limitations to its utilization in ruminant feeding and could be used solely or in mixture with grass.
Being well consumed and utilized even as sole forage, FT will be a good insurance in alleviating feed scarcity problem for ruminant animals in the dry season.
Adungbe Bamikole, M. and Julius Ikhatua, U. (2010), "Nutritional evaluation of
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