Research Reports

Use of dried leucaena leaf and de-worming for improving smallholder goat production in Savannakhet province.

Goats are raised by smallholder farmers throughout Savannakhet province. Households raise native goats with a mature weight of 25-28 kg for meat production. Villagers usually prefer to rear goats in small groups to avoid damage to crops, since the owners are held responsible for any crop damage. Traditional goat production systems practiced by smallholder farmers in Savannakhet province are characterized by extensive use of native pastures which are utilized by direct grazing. The productivity of goats in these systems is generally low, particularly in relation to growth rate. Inadequate feeding in the dry-season is a major constraint to goat productivity. Most of traditional grassland is deficient in protein and does not meet the maintenance and production requirements of goats. The preservation of forages in dried form is an appealing option for areas like Savannakhet province which suffer from a prolonged dry season and where grazing goats require feed supplements for efficient production. Leucaena leucocephala has been shown as an important and cheap source of high quality feed for goats.This study was carried out with farmers using a Village Learning Activity Approach. In this approach, farmers are encouraged to develop a sense of ownership in the management of experiments. Farmers are also encouraged to adopt a program of cooperative learning to achieve improvements in production through the adoption of improved technologies. This experiment compared the farmers’ traditional goat raising approach (free range grazing without de-worming) with an approach based on improved feed intake (supplementing locally available feed with dried leucaena leaves, combined with de-worming). The leucaena leaves were collected from the wild by farmers in December 2016, and dried for use in the experiment which commenced in early February 2017. The level of supplementation of dried leucaena leaves was based on 0.5% of body weight. The de-worming, using Ivermec, was done at the beginning of the trial. Nakham Village in Xayphouthong District was selected for the conduct of the experiment. The village selection was based on the importance of goat production to farmers’ livelihoods and the willingness of farmers to investigate existing production problems. Labor availability for the study was also a criterion for household selection. Eight households were selected, each household being required to have 2 goats weighing 10-20 kg. A total of 16 young goats were assigned to the study. At the start of the experiment all the young goats were vaccinated against foot and mouth disease. The young goats were weighed at intervals of 2 weeks throughout the trial (over a period of 8 weeks).The study compared the growth performance of young goats. Treatment 1 (T1) was the free range grazing without de-worming. Treatment 2 (T2) was free range grazing with the dried leucaena leaf supplement, combined with de-worming. The results showed that there were statistically significant differences (P<0.1) in average daily weight gain and total live weight gain between the treatments. The data indicated that T2 gave a better ADG and live weight gain than T1, with 25.70 g/d vs 14.70 g/d and 1,438 g/h vs 825 g/h, respectively. In conclusion, the study showed that the productivity of smallholder goats can be significantly improved when free range grazing is supplemented by dried leucaena leaves and de-worming.