A feeding trial lasting 90 days was conducted using 28 Yankasa weaner rams with an average weight of 14.96 ± 1.10 kg (5-6 months old) to investigate effect of sequence and feeding interval of concentrate supplement (CS) and roughage on performance. The animals were randomly assigned to four treatments (T1: CS fed 1 h prior to feeding grass hay; T2: CS fed 2 h prior to feeding grass hay; T3: grass hay fed 1 h before feeding CS; and T4: grass hay fed 2 h before feeding CS) using a 2x2 factorial arrangement in a randomized complete block design (RCBD). The animals were fed Wooly finger grass (Digitaria smutsii Stent) hay and CS at the rate of 2.4% and 1.6% of body weight, respectively, and offered water ad libitum. Blood collection was done every 4 wk before feeding and 4 h after second feeding. Rumen fluid was collected before feeding and 3 h after second feeding during the last week of feeding trial. Thereafter metabolism trial was conducted with 20 of the rams. Animals in treatment 2 had greater dry matter intake (P < 0.05) than animals in treatment 1, but statistically similar in dry matter intake to those in treatments 3 and 4. The total weight change of treatment 4 animals was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than those of treatment 1 animals, but statistically similar to weight change of treatment 2 and 3 animals. Differences in average daily gain (ADG) among treatments were not significant (P > 0.05). Total volatile fatty acids and pH values of the rumen of the rams 3 h post-feeding were affected (P < 0.05) by the interval of feeding. Blood creatinine levels 4 h post-feeding were only significantly (P < 0.05) affected by interval of feeding grass hay and CS. Apparent digestibility of dry matter (DM) and organic matter (OM) was higher in treatment 4 animals, although no significant (P > 0.05) differences among treatments. Nitrogen intake and retention were not significantly (P > 0.05) different among treatments. It is concluded that, even though, feed intake and growth rate of Yankasa rams were not markedly affected by the sequence (of feeding) as much as interval of feeding CS and grass hay, the rams in treatment 4 had better feed efficiency and nutrient digestibility for better feed utilization and improved performance. Yankasa rams can be fed grass hay 2 h before feeding concentrate supplement.
Sheep and goats are domestic animals that have been associating with humans for a very long time. In traditional setting, they serve as means of ready cash and a reserve against economic and agricultural production hardship (Hamito, 2008). They play a significant role in the food chain and overall livelihoods of rural households, where they are largely the property of women and their children (Lebbie, 2004). They are good producers of meat for human consumption. The short gestation interval of sheep and goats and the absence of religious bias against their meat (Ozung et al., 2011) are among the reasons why they are kept by peoples of various cultures, religions and races. In the developed countries where consumers are conscious of fat intake, a situation which results into cardio-vascular diseases, goat meat (chevon) with comparatively low amount of intramuscular fat are preferred to beef and/or mutton. It has been reported that there is now a niche market for chevon in US (Luginbuhl, 2000; Coffey, 2006; Okpebholo and Kahan, 2007).
Productivity of small ruminants in many tropical areas is often poor because they are subjected to various kinds of diseases, feeding and housing management techniques. Several survey reports (Devendra and Burns, 1983; Okorie and Sanda, 1992; Ademosun, 1994; Aliyu et al., 2005; Shiawoya and Tsado, 2011) indicated that small holder farmers that own over 70% of the livestock population in sub-Saharan Africa offer their stocks little or no supplementary feed. Yet because of low nutrient quality, pasture alone and more specifically tropical grasses cannot provide growing animals sufficient amount of energy intake to attain appropriate growth rate for higher slaughter weight and dressing percentage (Humphreys, 1991).
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