Assessment of Herd Structure and Use of Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) and Indigenous Browse Species as Livestock Feed in Miesso, Eastern Ethiopia
Keywords:Cactus, Browse, Livestock
The survey was conducted in Miesso district, West Harerghe zone, Ethiopia bin five purposively selected peasant associations. These included two from pastoral and three from agro pastoralist areas. The objective of the study was to assess the utilization practices of cactus and browse species as livestock feed in Miesso district. The results of the survey showed that cactus introduction in Miesso district linked with the emergence of Ethio-Djibouti railway construction. Farmers allow their animals to graze cactus alone or feed in combination of crop residues, grass hay and browses during dry season and drought period. Animals consumed little drinking water after cactus feeding. However, feeding cactus is associated with bloating, soreness around mouth, loss of teeth and damage on eye and skin of animals. To alleviate these problems, farmers use various traditional prevention and treatment measures such as restricting the amount consumed; feeding crop residues before and after cactus; migration to areas where less cactus invasion and preventing animals from cactus feeding.The treatment measures include removing accumulated cactus from throat area by hand especially from cattle, drenching with pepper, salt solution, coca cola, gasoline, chasing animals and using nearby vet clinics. Browse trees were also very valuable as animal feed to the farmers/pastoralists of Miesso district. Therefore, in addition to the indigenous knowledge the farmers/pastoralists have, efforts of different organizations working in the agriculture sector in the area should focus on use feeding systems like burning the spines of cactus, chopping and drying cactus, provision of grass hay, maize/sorghum stover before cactus feeding and propagation of the spineless cactus species, banning the excessive use of browse trees for charcoal making and fuel wood through education and introducing improved forage species adaptable to the area are recommended.
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