Beyene Teklu, Tegene Negesse and Ayana Angassa
A study was conducted with the objectives of assessing the livestock feed resources and feeding systems of Assosa Zone of Benishangul-Gumuz Region using group discussions, structured questionnaire and personal observations. The average total family size of the study area was 7.49 of (shifting FS = 9.08; permanent FS = 5.9). Overall, 55% of respondents in the two farming systems were illiterate of which about 43.3 % was found in shifting cultivation where as the rest in permanent farming system. The farm size of households from shifting cultivation (SC) was (6.04 ha) significantly higher (p<0.05) than that of (1.26 ha) permanent farming systems (PFS). About 70.8% of respondents from SC get new land by clearing of land without shifting to other places on average within 5.66 years. The number of cows, goats and chicken from SC were significantly higher (p<0.05) than that of PFS, while the number of oxen from PFS was significantly higher (p<0.05) than SC. Natural pasture and crop residues were the most commonly utilized feed resources. Stubble grazing and browse species also play a significant role during dry season. Among the most commonly used browse species, lowland bamboo (Oxytenantheria abyssinica) was the most abundant. The size of natural pasture as well as its quality is declining from time to time mainly due to expansion of farmland and replacement of palatable species by less palatable species like Sporobolus pyramidalis and Hyparrhenia collina species. About 59.1% of respondents from SC and 37.5% from PFS indicated that expansion of farmland was the main cause of shrinkage of their communal grazing land. Crop residues were also used for construction, fuel and sale. Grazing was the main livestock feeding system in both farming systems. In SC, the first priority was given to weak animals for feeding crop residue, while draught animal take the lead in PFS. Agro-industrial by-products, improved forage crops and hay were less available. In both farming systems, river was the main source of water for livestock. The major livestock production constraints in the study area were disease and parasite followed by shortage of livestock feeds. It is suggested to study the estimated amount of crop residues and contribution of other feeds (grazing lands, forest areas, stubbles and fallow lands) produced in the study area to know the feed balance in relation to livestock population in the area.
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