Small ruminants supplemental feeding regimes in arid agro-pastoral systems in Pakistan
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Small ruminant production on arid agro-pastoral based production system requires greater attention in managing feed resources for optimal production. The global warming-climate change, leading to low precipitations further aggravates feed availability and hence animal productivity. To overcome these feed constraints, models were developed in the Pothowar plateau of Pakistan with the objective of improving feeding regimes to ascertain higher animal productivity. The annual fodder production calendar was developed and the deficient period was bridged with improved varieties of fodder, including spineless cactus. The feed deficient period in winter was alleviated by introducing suitable fodder species, and mixed cropping systems. Introduced rotational grazing management based on biomass availability in rangelands. Fodder based supplemental feed formulations were fed to meet the maintenance, fattening and reproduction requirements. The feeding of ewes/does based on balanced range grazing, supplemented with feed options enhanced production; live-weight gain (3-5 kg), and lambs/kids production (80-100%). Similarly, fattening of lambs/kids on different formulations showed up to 6 kg live-weight gain. The comparative assessment with only grazing in rangeland decreased live weight gain up to 2 kg and lowered lambs/kids production (70-75%). The small ruminant farmers adopting above innovations achieved maximum economic returns and thereby improved their socioeconomic livelihood.