Main Article Content
Smallholder farmers are often challenged by lack of access and affordability of concentrate supplements for fattening small ruminants. An on-farm feeding experiment was conducted using 32 yearling rams (weighing 21.1 ± 2.3 kg), to evaluate the effect of replacing a concentrate supplement with a home-grown oat-vetch mixed forage on the performance of lambs fed Desho grass basal feed ad libitum. In addition experimental forage yield was determined. The sheep were blocked into four groups according to their weight, and randomly assigned to one of the four treatments. The four treatments were fresh Desho grass + 302.6 g/h/d/ concentrate (T1); fresh Desho grass + 106.7 g oat-vetch and 204.7 g concentrate (T2); fresh Desho grass + 204 goat-vetch hay and 106 g concentrate (T3) and Fresh Desho grass + 302 g oat-vetch hay (T4). The actual feeding experiment lasted 75 days. Feed intake was measured daily and body weight gain fortnightly. Dry matter (DM) yields of the oat-vetch mixture ranged from 6.4 to 7.1 ton/ha and the Desho grass from 10.2 to 11.8 ton/ha. Feed intake decreased (P<0.05) with increasing level of supplementation of oat-vetch mixed supplement. Mean daily intake of DM per animal decreased from 742 g for the groups fed on sole concentrate supplement to 691 g for the groups fed on sole oat-vetch supplement. The consumption of all other nutrients showed similar pattern to that of dry matter intake. The groups fed on 67% concentrate plus 33% oat-vetch mixture had higher (P<0.05) average daily body weight gain (130 g) and feed conversion efficiency (0.17) compared with the others. On the other hand, higher (P<0.05) marginal rate of economic return was observed for groups fed on 33% concentrate plus 678% oat-vetch mixture (229%), followed by those fed 67% concentrate plus 33% oat-vetch (147%). In conclusion, homegrown oat-vetch mixed forage could substitute a considerable proportion of concentrate supplement required for intensive sheep fattening with reduction in production costs and optimizing income for smallholders.