Utilisation of Fodder Trees Under Small-Holder Systems in Kenya

Thumbnail Image
Paterson, R.T.
Rootheart, R. L.
Kariuki, I.W.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Although the technical advantages in terms of animal production and improved soil fertility of the use of herbaceous legumes have been well demonstrated in Kenya and elsewhere, adoption by small-scale fanners has been disappointing. This has led to increased research into the use of both indigenous and exotic fodder trees. In common with conventional pasture legumes, tree fodders contain high levels of crude protein and minerals and many show high levels of digestibility. They are readily accepted by livestock and because of their deep-root systems, they continue to produce well into the dry season. Anti-nutritive factors can be a problem however, and polyphenolics, toxic amino acids, cyanogenic glycosides and alkaloids are found in many tree species. There are abundant niches on small farms where fodder trees can be grown without affecting crop production. In the Embu region, it has been estimated that 3 kg of fresh fodder of Calliandra calothyrsus has the same effect on milk production as I kg of commercial dairy meal. Up to about 500 trees (250 m of hedgerow) will produce enough fodder to supplement one dairy cow for a complete lactation. The tree fodder can either replace the concentrate without loss of Yield or it can complement it to produce more milk. Calliandra is being enthusiastically adopted by small-scale fanners, many of whom are starting to produce their own seed. Other tree species are now being studied to avoid overreliance on a single fodder species.
East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, 62 (1), p. 179-197