Review on the Nutritive Value of Some Selected Acacia Species for Livestock Production in Dryland AreasAuthor(s): Kefyalew Gebeyew
Nutrition is one of the major constraints to cattle production in the tropics, particularly the lack of protein during the dry season. This review aimed to review the characteristics and nutritional value of some selected Acacia species for livestock production in dry land areas. Most browse species investigated showed relatively high fodder value due to high level of crude protein, metabolisable energy, Ca, Mg and K. Acacia, a genus of indigenous woody legumes occupy a dominant position in plant communities in semi-arid and arid areas of tropical and subtropical countries. Acacia has the ability to rapidly absorb nutrients, particularly nitrogen, and incorporate them into biomass after fire, enabling it to act as a pioneer species. Because of the ability of Acacia to fix nitrogen, its nutritive value might be expected to be higher than that of non-leguminous browse species. Although the nutrient contents indicate a high potential for using the foliage of some Acacia species as a feedstuff, other constituents also need to be considered. Most Acacias examined have adequate crude protein contents for animal production. Again, there is considerable variation between species. Mineral concentrations vary significantly between species, ranging from toxic to inadequate for livestock production. Most Acacias tested had adequate sodium levels, low level of potassium and sulphur, deficiencies in Phosphorus which is leading to an imbalance in the calcium to phosphorus ratio in foliage. Such differences may reflect differences in soil and growing conditions more than differences between species. In conclusion, Utilization of Acacia for livestock production could be good feed resource for livestock during feed gaps and drought season.