Under the AIP-Livestock project (ILRI-ICARDA), cactus was introduced to farmers in the dry areas of Chakwal and its adaptation was tested and its value as animal feed was evaluated.
Three supplemental feeds were formulated based on available fodder such as oat, lucerne and spineless cactus, to assess the productivity of small ruminants. The four categories of animals (ewes/does/lambs/kids) belonging to four farmers were used in a farmer participatory trial. The animals grazed for 5-6 hours daily on rangeland followed by 2 kg/head/day supplemental mixed feed rations including oat, cactus and lucerne in the evening. However, animals in the control group (D) were maintained on 6-8 hours daily grazing only, as per farmers’ practice.
The trial lasted 60 days. Ewes that were fed oat- and lucerne-based supplemental feed showed similar high live-weight gain (67 g/day) followed by those fed cactus-based supplemental feed (33 g/day). However, the daily
live-weight gain (g/day) of kids fed oat- and Lucerne-based rations was 100 g, followed by kids fed cactus-based feed. The lambs/kids on grazing only showed lower live-weight gain (33-50 g/day). We concluded that cactus can be used as an alternate feed when other green fodder is not available.
Initially published in the AIP Newsletter – A Newsletter of the Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP) for Pakistan, Volume 3, Issue 2, April-June 2016. AIP-Livestock is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in partnership with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). For feedback and queries, contact Ibrahim Mohammed (ILRI): firstname.lastname@example.org