Effects of Supplementing Leaves of Desert Date (Balanites aegyptiaca), Maize Grain and their Mixture on Growth Performance and Economic Return of Indigenous Goats Fed a Basal Diet of Native Pasture Hay
This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of supplementing leaves of desert date (Balanites aegyptiaca), maize grain and their mixture on growth performance and economic return of indigenous goats fed on a basal diet of natural pasture hay. Twenty intact indigenous goats with ages 8-10-months and an average initial body weight of 16.13±1.17kg (Mean± SD) were used in the study. The experimental animals were acquired from volunteer goat producers at Fetele Doronje kebele, Mirab Abaya district of Gamo Zone, southern Ethiopia. The animals were blocked into five blocks with a block containing four kids. The kids were randomly assigned to one of the four treatments within a block allowing five bucks per treatment feeds. Dietary treatments consisted of feeding natural pasture hay ad libitum (T1); natural pasture hay ad libitum supplemented with 200g maize grain (T2); natural pasture hay ad libitum supplemented with 200g dried leaves of desert date (T3), and natural pasture hay ad libitum supplemented with mixture of 200g of dried leaves of desert date and maize grain at 1:1 ratio (T4) on dry matter (DM) basis. 50 g wheat bran was added to all animals to satisfy the maintenance requirement of the control group. The total DM intake in the current study was higher (p<0.001) for the supplemented group than the control ones. The result showed that supplementing goats with maize grain, desert date and their mixture (T2-T4) attained ADG of 48.7, 48.9 and 66.8g/day for T2, T3 and T4, respectively as compared to the control (33.2g/day). However, among the supplemented groups, goats fed on T4 diet gained superior (p<0.001) ADG than goats fed on T2 and T3 diets. Moreover, supplementing indigenous goats with desert date, maize grain and their mixture relatively improved the return compared to the control group. The partial budget analysis further revealed that T4 was more profitable as compared to other supplementary treatments. Therefore, supplementing growing goat kids with T4 could be recommended to smallholder goat producers in the study area for better animal performance and profitability.