Added interest at the fodder bank
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CTA. 1993. Added interest at the fodder bank. Spore 44. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49105
Fodder banks, which are planted pastures of forage legumes, were originally developed to provide dry-season feed for cattle in the subhumid zone of West Africa. Farmers are, however getting even greater benefits by using them for small ruminants...
Fodder banks, which are planted pastures of forage legumes, were originally developed to provide dry-season feed for cattle in the subhumid zone of West Africa. Farmers are, however getting even greater benefits by using them for small ruminants and for boosting crop yields. The International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA) first developed fodder banks by setting aside small areas which they planted with forage legumes such as Stylosanthes. This pasture was used to feed cattle in the dry season. The idea worked well and cattle came through the lean period in good condition. However the majority of farmers in the zone own small ruminants rather than cattle. For most of the year small ruminants forage freely but during the cropping season they have to be tethered. They have usually been confined to natural pastures and, as the season progresses, they lose weight.Farmers are now establishing fodder banks and confining their goats and sheep on these legume pastures during the wet season rather than during the dry season as originally intended. This initiative by farmers is paying off because the animals have been found to do much better. Goats tethered to graze on fodder banks lost only 50g over the wet season, whereas those on natural pasture lost 1.5kg. There are even greater benefits for the farmer. When the fodder banks are ploughed and then planted with cereal crops such as maize, improved yields are obtained. Maize yields increased threefold, and sorghum and millet yields almost doubled. In addition the crop residues increased by similar amounts. It has also been found that the nitrogen content of the soil increased by 75% within two years of the land being used as a fodder bank. That is equivalent to applying about 30kg of nitrogen per hectare! ILCA PO Box 5689 Addis Ababa ETHIOPIA