Studies on Characteristics of Pastoral Cattle Production in Adamawa State, Guinea Savannah Zone of Nigeria.
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The main objective of the study is to characterize aspects of pastoral cattle pr oduction in Adamawa state, guinea savannah zone of Nigeria in order to understand the socio - cultural conditions of key stake holders, the common cattle breeds, available feed resources and morpho - physiological conditions of cattle grazing in the zone. The study was divided into two phases to elucidate production characteristics at the pastoralists and semi sedentary levels of production in three Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state namely, Mubi north, Gombi and Jada. Pastoralists‘ production component of the s tudy was carried out with the aid of questionnaire , oral interview and field observations on 300 respondents spread across the three study LGAs, while the semi - sedentary component was carried out on one purposively identified cattle farm in each of three L GAs. Morpho - physiological parameters studied included body condition score (BCS), rectal temperature (RT), respiratory rate (RR), pulse rate (PT), hematological and serum biochemistry were determined. Most preferred dry season feed resources and water cons umed by the animals were analyzed for the nutrient compositions and quality respectively. Data generated were subjected to descriptive statistics and interactions of different study parameters were also determined . P astoral cattle production in Adamawa sta te was predominated by highly experienced (80 – 85%), married (75 - 88%), Fulani (95 – 65%) male (75 – 90%) , Muslims (75 – 80%) aged mostly 31 – 40 years (48 – 55%) and having limited western education. White Fulani breed (50.00%) are most common in Gombi LGA, while Red Bororo (53.00%) and Adamawa Gudali (50.00%) were most predominant in Mubi North and Jada LGAs respectively. Most of the pastoralist (40 – 50%) maintained herd size of 41 to 50 heads and reared cattle for multiple purposes such as breeding, m ilk, me at and traction. Farmers practic ed uncontrolled breeding, with bull to cow ratio of 1:10 (75.00% at Mubi north LGA). First mating (50 – 60%) was done between 4 and 5 years, while age at first calving was mostly (73 - 75%) was mostly 5 – 7 years indic ating serious reproductive life wastage. Most pastoralists (55 – 65%) use ethno - veterinary practices to enhance cattle reproductive performance. Calving rates (75 – 85%) were more during late rainy season (LRS), while (90.00%) depended on natural pastures for feeding their cattle. Cattle grazed 21 grasses and 19 legumes during the wet periods, while 12 crop residues, 7 by - products and 10 browse plants were offered during dry periods as supplements. Most of the pastoralists (70.00 - 90.00%) depended solely o n natural flowing streams and rivers for the supply of water to their cattle. The major production constraints (43.33%) identified was diminishing natural resources characterized by shrinking land and vegetal resources. xviii M ethods for reducing poor morphometr ic effects of lean feed resources were forage conservation as hay, supplementation with tree fodder, migration and splitting of herds. BCS was significantly (p<0.05) better in Adamawa Gudali, semi - sedentary production and during LRS, while RT, RR and PR we re significantly (p < 0.05) different across LGAs. RBC counts were normal but male values were significantly (p < 0.005) higher than the female values. Similarly, PCV, Hb and WBC were within normal range for cattle although significant (p<0.05) differences were observed across LGAs. Male AST, ALT and ALP values were also significantly different from female values although within normal range. Interactions of breed or management effects with morpho - physiological parameters were also significant (p<0.05) for PR, RBC count, PCV, MCV, MCH, MCHC, AST and ALT, with these interactions being more significant in Adamawa Gudali and Red Bororo in most cases. Pasture resources were more abundant during the LRS and EDS, while crop residues/browse resources predominated d uring the other seasons. It was conclu ded that Adamawa Gudali out - performed the other breeds on many parameters followed by Red Bororo, reflecting their earlier adaptation to the study area. The semi - sedentary production system generated better performance results than the pastoral system. The major constraint s to pastoral cattle production in the study area were seasonal feed and water shortages, shrinking pasture lands , desertification linked to changes in the production environment , with resultant insecu rity and poor animal performance. Appropriate g overnment agencies should formulate policies to address the static socio - cultural conditions of pastoralists in Nigeria that resists adoption of agricultural technologies adapted to the realities of a modern w orld. Keywords: Pastoralism, c attle breed, pasture , guinea savannah , Nigeria