Combinations of Urochloa hybrid Mulato II and natural pasture hays as a basal diet for growing Farta lambs in Ethiopia

Wubetie Adnew, Berhanu Abraha Tsegay, Asaminew Tassew, Bimrew Asmare


The study was conducted to evaluate the feed intake, digestibility, bodyweight change and carcass characteristics of Farta lambs fed Brachiaria (now: Urochloa) hybrid Mulato II and natural pasture hays in various proportions as a basal diet supplemented with a local concentrate mixture (CM). Twenty-five yearling male Farta lambs with a mean initial body weight of 19.6±0.29 kg (mean±s.e.) were used in feeding (90 days) and digestibility (7 days) trials. The lambs were randomly allocated to the following 5 dietary treatments on the basis of stratified body weight: 100% natural pasture hay (NPH) (T1); 75% NPH+25% Urochloa hybrid Mulato II hay (MH) (T2); 50% NPH+50% MH (T3); 25% NPH+75% MH (T4); and 100% MH (T5). A local concentrate mixture [300 g dry matter (DM)/hd/d] was fed to all animals. Crude protein (CP) concentration of the basal diet increased as proportion of MH in the ration increased (P<0.05). Intake of DM and nutrients, and nutrient digestibility coefficients increased significantly (P<0.05) as proportion of MH in the roughage component of the ration increased. Final body weight, average daily bodyweight gain, feed conversion efficiency and most carcass parameters measured were significantly (P<0.05) higher as proportion of MH increased from 0 to 100% in the basal diet. Based on the biological performance of the experimental lambs, performance of sheep in the region could be enhanced significantly by incorporating MH with native pasture hay and concentrate supplement in feeding rations. Economic assessments would reveal the optimal combinations of native pasture and MH for feeding to achieve particular outcomes. Other improved grass and legume species may fill the same role and should be investigated in differing environments.

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