Study on Nutritional Characterization of Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) as Forage in Kenya’s Rangelands

Under Kenyan conditions, the potential utility of drought-resistant and underutilized Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) as livestock forage supplements has yet to be established. The goal of this study was to identify plausible pathways for alternative feeding innovations to combat feed scarcity and feed quality while also providing ideal interventions for adapting climate resilient livestock production systems. Because of the prevalence of Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) in these counties, arid and semi-arid areas in Baringo, Laikipia, and Nyeri were chosen for this study. It is hypothesized that qualitative changes in the nutrient content of Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) will occur. The nutrient content of Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) was evaluated using on-farm forage sampling and proximate analytical techniques. On Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) samples, analysis of variance (ANOVA) methods were used to determine the presence or absence of morphological and plant stage of growth significant treatment effects. Young spiny and spineless Cactus cladodes had a significant (P0.001) crude protein (CP) content (14.9 percent). The nutritional quality of spiney and spineless (Opuntia ficus indica) cactus was not significantly different (P>0.05). Mature spineless Cactus cladodes had the highest crude fibre (CF) content (32 percent ). Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) ripe fruits had significantly (P0.001) higher nitrogen free extracts (NFE) (396%) content than other plant parts. Cactus species’ high CP and energy levels (39.6 percent NFE) validate the value of underutilized drought-resilient forages as alternative supplementary sources of feed for livestock in Kenya’s truncated landscapes. Cactus species cladodes and fruits are thus ideal nonconventional feedstuffs and are recommended as alternative feed resources in Kenya’s dry lands to replace scarce and expensive conventional energy feed sources.

Author (s) Details

Margaret Syomiti
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, P.O.Box 389-80300-Voi, Kenya.

Prof. Elias Maranga
Egerton University, P.O.Box 536-Njoro, Kenya.

Prof. Gilbert Obwoyere
Egerton University, P.O.Box 536-Njoro, Kenya.

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