Effects of supplementation with leaves of Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia Papyrifera) on growth performance and blood indices of West African Dwarf Sheep (Djallonké) fed Napier Grass Basal Diet

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An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of supplementing Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) leaves on the growth performance and blood profile of West African Dwarf (Djallonké) sheep fed Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) basal diet. Two varieties of Napier grass, the local variety and an improved variety (16798) were cultivated and used in the study. Mature leaves of Paper mulberry (a tree in the moraceae family), were used as supplement to the Napier grass basal diet. Exploration of ways of managing the recent invasiveness of Paper mulberry in the country has necessitated the assessment of its potential for feeding ruminants. Twenty four (24) Djallonké rams weighing averagely 14kg were randomly allocated in a 2x3 factorial arrangement to six (6) treatments in a Completely Randomised Design (CRD). There were four (4) replicates. The factors were variety of Napier grass (local and improved) and level of supplementation (0g, 100g and 200g/d). This resulted in a total of six treatments: Loc0 (Local with 0g/d of supplement), Loc100 (Local with 100g/d of supplement), Loc200 (Local with 200g/d of supplement), Imp0 (Improved with 0g/d of supplement), Imp100 (Improved with 100g/d of supplement) and Imp200 (Improved with 200g/d of supplement). The grass harvested each morning and chopped into short lengths was fed to the animals and feed refusals weighed back the following morning to determine intake. The supplement was fed to each animal at 8.00 a.m prior to the grass basal diet at 9.00 a.m each morning. An adaptation period of seven (7) days was followed by twelve (12) weeks of data collection for each animal. Parameters measured included, average daily intake of both basal diet and supplement, live weight change, haematological and blood biochemical indices. Each of the Napier grass varieties was analysed for dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF), hemicellulose and cellulose. Paper mulberry was also analysed for dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), ash, ether extract (EE), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF) and hemicellulose. The chemical composition of the grasses showed that the CP levels ranged from 92.98g/kgDM in the improved (variety 16798) to 96.50g/kgDM in the local variety. NDF concentrations did not show wide differences and ranged from 724.90gkgDM in variety 16798 to 729.85g/kgDM in the local variety. There were wide differences, however in ADF concentrations, from 472.66 – 531.97g/kgDM for variety 16798 and the local variety respectively. Hemicellulose and cellulose concentrations among the two varieties were also variable. The chemical composition of the supplement used (Paper mulberry leaves) compared favourably with those of other leaf supplements. The chemical compositions were: DM was 905.0g/kg, CP was 205.0gkg/DM, ash was 132.0g/kgDM, EE was 100.0g/kgDM, ADF was 340.0g/kgDM, NDF was 430.0g/kgDM and hemicelluloses 90.0g/kgDM. Supplementation of the Napier grass basal diet with Paper mulberry leaves resulted in an increase in total intake which improved linearly as level of supplement increased from 0g/d to 200g/d in both varieties of grass consumed. Intake of supplement offered was highly significant (P<0.001) when expressed on the bases of both gDM/d and on metabolic body size which was indicative of a high degree of acceptability of the supplement. Final live weight gain also improved significantly (P<0.05) with supplementation. However, ADG observed was not significantly influenced by treatment. All ADG values obtained (50g/d, 60g/d and 70g/d for 0, 100 and 200g/d of supplementation) were however comparable to live weight gains reported earlier for sheep fed Napier grass basal diet with and without supplementation. Effects of the treatments on haematological and biochemical parameters were varied: while some were within the normal physiological ranges reported for healthy sheep, others were outside these reference values or ranges. Records were kept on all activities undertaken during the establishment of the pasture to estimate the cost of establishing pasture and harvesting it for feeding for a given period of time. The total cost of establishing Napier grass pasture on a 1.7 acre land and harvesting daily for feeding for twelve (12) weeks stood at five hundred and sixty-five Ghana cedis (Gh¢565.0) excluding the cost of land. Based on the study, the cost of pasture per live weight gain of rams (Gh¢0.23) in kilogrammes compared to the current price of a kilogramme of mutton at the Kumasi Abbattoir (Gh¢4.0) showed that it makes economic sense to venture into pasture establishment for feeding sheep.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Animal Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in (Animal Nutrition), 2011