Livestock production is the major source of rural livelihoods in semi-arid regions of Southern Africa. However, nutrition is the major limiting factor of livestock production in these areas characterised by declines in rangeland productivity due to the increases in drought frequency, deliberate overstocking by farmers, and climate change and variability. For instance, the grazing resource is strongly influenced by seasonality of rainfall. Poor-quality cereal crop residues are the main dry season supplementary feed source, yet the predominant crops such as sorghum and maize are deficient in protein and other essential nutrients. Additionally, although conventional supplements, fodder crops and agro by-products are an alternative dry season supplementary feed source; they are costly and not readily available. They are also mostly based on staple food crops such as maize, creating competition in use between humans and livestock. Therefore, indigenous browse species remain a significant source of abundant and persistent animal feeds. Other innovations with the potential to improve feed availability include straw ammoniation and silages, veld reinforcement and rehabilitation, and strategic destocking. However, they are not readily adopted by farmers. There is thus a need to promote technologies that improve livestock feeds and feeding for sustainable livelihoods.
Part of the book: Livestock Health and Farming