Livestock Research for Rural Development 24 (3) 2012 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Preferably browsed forage species by camels (Camelus dromedarius) and their mineral contents in Jijiga district, Eastern Ethiopia

Temesgen Desalegn and Y K Mohammed*

Madawalabu University, School of Agriculture, Department of Animal and Range Sciences
P.O. Box 247, Bale-Robe, Ethiopia. Mob. +251912159506
teme_desalegn1980@yahoo.com
* Haramaya University, School of Animal and Range Sciences,
P.O. Box, 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Mob. +251915740524

Abstract

The objectives of the study were to assess preferably browsed forage species of camels and their critical mineral contents. Data regarding feed resources were collected from 80 households using structured and semi structured questionnaires, and visual observations. Following the survey, samples of dominant and preferably browsed forage species were collected to determine chemical composition.  

The mean concentration of macro elements (%) Ca (1.91, 1.26); Mg (0.48, 0.32); K (2.03, 1.46); and micro elements (ppm) Fe (340, 97.6); Zn (73.6, 56.7); Mn (163, 82.9) and Cu (19.4, 12.2) in the sampled forages was higher than the lower recommended levels of these elements for camels in both the wet and the dry seasons, respectively. However, the mean concentration of Na (0.12, 0.09) and P (0.12, 0.04) were lower than the recommended level for camels in both the wet and the dry seasons. Effect of seasons was found significant for Ca, Mg, P,  Fe, Mn  Zn  and Cu with higher concentrations in the wet season.  It is concluded that the camels in the study area could get adequate amount of the mineral elements: Ca, Mg, K, Fe, Mn, Zn and Cu from browses except for P and Na. So there is a need for P and Na supplementation to the camels in the study district from other sources 

Key words: dry season, supplementation, wet season


Introduction

The one humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) in Ethiopia as elsewhere in dry lands of Africa and Asia are the main sources of milk for millions of pastoralists (Gebremariam 1989, Wilson 1998). They are important for the pastoralists to be recognized as a true member of the community (Kaufmann and Binder 2002). Camels not only sustain life on a day-to-day basis for many people living on the fringe of subsistence, but also serve as depository of wealth and a security against unknown future (Wilson 1998). 

In eastern Ethiopia, including the Somali Regional State and Eastern Hararghe, livestock production including camel rely on browse and grazing on open range lands. As pastoralism is the dominant feature in these areas, livestock are moved from place to place in search of grazing pasture and water as season changes. Natural pasture or vegetation therefore constitutes the sole diet of camels or livestock under pastoral systems where the pasture or the natural vegetation is often of poor quality.  

Information on the concentration of critical minerals in feeds is crucial pre-requisite for improvement of the mineral deficiencies or toxicities of animal diets for the improved performance. Although camel is an important domestic animal species in countries like Ethiopia that possess a large pastoralists and agro-pastoralist population, little has been done on the nutritional status of their feeds in general and that of mineral status in particular. Therefore, this study was designed to assess preferably browsed forage species and their mineral concentration in the study district.  


Materials and methods

The study was conducted in the Somali National Regional State in Jijiga district. Geographically, Jijiga district lies at 8o 44’N longitude and 40o 22’E latitude (NAE 1984). The average elevation of the district is 1803 meters above sea level (Hailu 2008). Temperature of the district is generally high all the year round where the mean minimum and maximum temperatures are around 20oC and 35oC, respectively. The mean annual rain fall is 660 mm and bimodal. The rainfall condition in the district is generally low, unreliable and with uneven distribution. 

Well structured and semi-structured questionnaires were prepared for interviewing purposively selected 80 camels’ herdsmen from four rural kebeles in the district to gather data on feed resources, dominant and preferably browsed forage species both in the wet and the dry seasons.  

Forage sample collection 

From the survey result, the forage species which are dominant and preferably browsed by camels in the study areas were ranked on the basis of frequency of the respondents for each forage species reported in the study area and then identified through the help of herdsmen and direct observation by the authors before the collection of samples. After ranking and identification, those forages species were sampled in two different seasons. The first round samples were collected in January to mid-February (dry season) and the second round samples were collected in July to mid-September (wet season) for laboratory analysis. During sampling, the plant parts which are consumed by camels (leaves, stems and pods) were harvested together carefully from each species of forage. Branches with flowers and/or pods of browse species were reserved in plant press for plant identification. 

Sample preparation and chemical analysis 

The forage samples were chopped into small pieces and allowed to be dried at 60oC for 72 hours in forced draft oven.  Then all dried samples were ground separately to pass through 1mm sieve of the Willey mill. The dried and ground samples were allowed to equilibrate in air at room temperature over-night and stored in plastic bags awaiting analysis.

Forage samples were analyzed for DM and ash according to the AOAC (1995). The mineral concentrations (Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, and Cu) in forages were analyzed by using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (Model 210 VGP USA). Solutions were prepared by following the dry ashing method (AOAC 1995). Sodium and K were determined by using flame photometry and P was determined by using photometric method according to AOAC (1995). 

Data collected from the survey were analyzed using the descriptive statistics of the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 13. T-test was employed to evaluate the effect of seasons on the mineral composition of forages.  


Results and discussion

The principal sources of camel feeds in the study areas constitute of browse species. The leaves, twigs, seeds and pods of browses are consumed by camels. During the survey more than 100 forage species consumed by camels were reported in the study district. This shows that the camels in Jijiga district have wider choices for browse and /or grazing forages.  

According to the pastoralists, twenty dominant and preferably browsed forage species were ranked and sampled for determination of mineral concentration (Table 1). Sixty five percent of the sampled forage species were also reported as the common type of range forages consumed by camels in Jijiga in a previous study (Tezera 1998).  Dessalegn (1984) in his study reported that in the Southern rangelands of Ethiopia the most important browse plants used by camels in different seasons are Acacia brevispica, Commiphora africana, Rhus natalensis, Grewia spp., Balanites spp., Boscia minimifolia, Cadaba glandulosa, Euphorbia spp., and Solanum tembensis.

 

Table 1: Dominant forage species preferably browsed by camels in the study district

 

Vernacular name

 

Botanical Name

 

Family Name

 

Frequency

(N=80)

Category

Tree/shrub*

Perennial herb*

Succulent/semi-succulent*

Swedwed

Acacia brevespica

 

MIMOSOIDEAE

 

44

 

 

 

Worsames

Dichrostachys cinerea

 

MIMOSOIDEAE

 

42

 

         √

 

 

Tin

Opontia ficus-indica

 

CACTACEAE

 

39

 

 

 

Sogsog

Acacia etbaica

MIMOSOIDEAE

36

         √

 

 

Adad

Acacia senegal

MIMOSOIDEAE

33

         √

 

 

Bakarkate

Lantana camara

 

VERBENACEAE

 

33

        

         √

 

 

Maraga

Acacia nilotica

MIMOSOIDEAE

31

         √

 

 

Kuda

Acacia tortilis

MIMOSOIDEAE

30

         √

 

 

Yemaruge

Belepharis persica

 

ACANTHACEAE

 

28

 

 

 

Murayo

Grewia villosa

TILIACEAE

28

          √

 

 

Gob

Ziziphus mouritiana

 

RHAMNACEAE

 

27

          √

 

 

Een

Euphorbia tirucalli

 

EUPHORBIACEAE

 

26

 

 

Mederis

Helotropium cinerascens

 

BORRAGINACEAE

 

26

 

 √

 

Gederiman

Commicarpus africanus

 

NYCTAGINACEAE

 

25

 

 √

 

Debobes

Rhus natalensis

ANACARDIACEAE

23

          √

 

 

Wadi

Acacia seyal

MIMOSOIDEAE

22

          √

 

 

Galol

Acacia bussei

MIMOSOIDEAE

22

          √

 

 

Kidiga

Balanites glabra

 

BALANITACEAE

 

21

         

         √

 

 

Madad

Grewia ferruginea

 

TILIACEAE

 

21

          

          √

 

 

Hangile

Cadaba heterotricha

 

CAPPARACEAE

 

21

        

           √

 

 

N= Number of respondents; * Azene et al. 1993; Sue et al 1997

 
Chemical composition
 
Ash content 

The ash contents of browses (Table 2) ranged (%) from 7.1 to 23 with a mean of 13.4 in the wet season and 4.5 to 20.4 with a mean of 10.3 in the dry season.  In the wet season, the ash content of forages was higher than the ash content in dry season. In a similar study, Alia et al (2007) also reported that the ash content of the plant parts browsed by camels during the wet season was higher compared to those browsed during the dry season.  

Macro mineral concentration in forages 

Calcium concentration in the browses (Table 2) ranged from 0.5 to 3.6% with a mean of 1.90.26% in the wet season and 0.3 to 3.4% with a mean of 1.30.26% in the dry season. Based on the lower limits of ruminant requirements (McDowell and Arthington 2005), all browse samples contained higher concentration of Ca in both the wet and the dry seasons. There were seasonal difference for Ca (Table 3), with concentration in the wet season being higher than that of the dry season. High Ca value in browses implies that the browsing and/or grazing camels of different classes including lactating camels in the study areas could get adequate amount of Ca in both seasons. El Shami et al (1990) also reported that the mineral content of the browse plants is adequate in Ca, Mg and K for browsing animals. Over 80% of preferred forage species by camels had Ca concentrations above the recommended levels during both the dry and the wet seasons at all the study sites in western Marsabit, Kenya (Kuria et al 2004).

 

Table 2: Ash and macro mineral composition (DM basis) of browse species consumed by camels in Jijiga district as related to seasons

Botanical name of  browses

Ash

Ca

Mg

K

Na

P

wet

dry

wet

dry

wet

dry

wet

dry

wet

dry

wet

dry

Acacia brevespica

7.09

5.23

1.11

0.3

0.42

0.22

1.58

2.36

0.24

0.05

0.08

0.04

Dichrostachys cinerea

9.23

7.02

1.91

1.24

0.25

0.2

1.34

0.72

0.05

0.12

0.13

0.01

Opontia ficus-indica

8.98

14.8

2.55

1.09

0.42

0.38

1.44

1.44

0.12

0.03

0.12

0.04

Acacia etbaica

22.5

8.47

1.55

0.71

0.15

0.19

1.49

0.48

0.05

0.12

0.15

0.02

Acacia senegal

8.43

8.81

2.3

1.7

0.42

0.41

1.87

1.34

0.05

0.05

0.14

0.03

Lantana camara

13.9

13.7

2.56

1.91

0.72

0.49

3.18

2.84

0.18

0.12

0.02

0.05

Acacia nilotica

13

5.2

3.36

1.12

0.85

0.14

2.89

1.68

0.18

0.18

0.01

0.13

Acacia tortilis

14.2

7.17

2.73

1.17

0.57

0.2

1.49

1.01

0.24

0.18

0.17

0.02

Belpharis persica

13.5

13.2

1.95

3.4

0.4

0.27

1.2

1.01

0.05

0.12

0.08

0.03

Grewia villosa

14.4

8.04

1.67

0.34

0.22

0.21

3.27

0.96

0.12

0.12

0.1

0.02

Ziziphus mouritiana

14.6

8.75

1.1

1.1

0.25

0.23

3.08

1.34

0.18

0.05

0.11

0.05

Euphorbia tirucalli

15.3

13.2

1.88

1.23

0.18

0.42

0.19

0.81

0.05

0.05

0.14

0.03

Helotropium cinerascens

 11.5

 19.1

 2

 0.81

 0.58

 0.26

 0.67

 1.97

 0.12

 0.05

 0.06

 0.03

Commicarpus africana

 23

 13.6

 3.57

 0.91

 0.54

 0.19

 3.18

 3.75

 0.18

 0.24

 0.19

 0.08

Rhus natalenis

14.6

9.62

1.62

1.02

0.39

0.41

2.16

0.96

0.05

0.05

0.09

0.04

Acacia seyal

13

4.54

0.5

2.74

0.33

0.43

1.92

1.44

0.05

0.03

0.16

0.03

Acacia bussei

13

4.77

0.7

0.62

0.41

0.37

3.03

0.48

0.05

0.03

0.15

0.02

Balanites glabra

7.43

10.6

0.92

0.78

0.88

0.16

0.62

0.04

0.18

0.05

0.16

0.03

Grewia ferruginea

15.8

20.4

2.96

1.84

0.64

0.58

3.95

2.21

0.12

0.05

0.19

0.05

Cadaba heterotricha 13.6 10.6 1.17 1.21 0.98 0.7 2.07 2.45 0.12 0.05 0.08 0.05

Mean

13.4

10.3

1.9

1.26

0.48

0.32

2.03

1.46

0.12

0.09

0.12

0.04

 

Table 3. Mean ash and macro mineral concentration (% in DM) in browse species as related to seasons

Minerals

Wet

Dry

SEM

Prob.

Ash

13.4a

10.3b

0.97

0.034

Calcium

1.9a

1.26b

0.26

0.046

  • Deficient

0

0

 

 

Magnesium

0.48a

0.32b

0.04

0.018

  • Deficient

10

25

 

 

Potassium

2.03

1.46

0.22

0.073

  • Deficient

5

15

 

 

Sodium

0.12

0.09

0.01

0.106

  • Deficient

65

85

 

 

Phosphorus

0.12a

0.04b

0.008

<.0001

  • Deficient

100

100

 

 

a, b= Means within a row not bearing a common superscript differ significantly; SEM=Standard error mean; Deficient=calculated as those browses that contained below the critical level of a given element divided by total number of browses and multiplied by 100.

Concentration of Mg in the browses ranged from 0.15 to 0.98% with a mean of 0.480.04% in the wet season and ranged from 0.14 to 0.7% with a mean of 0.320.04% in the dry season. In the wet and the dry seasons, 10 and 25% of the samples were below the suggested critical level of 0.2% (McDowell and Arthington 2005), respectively. Mean Mg concentration in browses sampled were higher than the critical levels for ruminants in both seasons signifying adequate amount of Mg for different classes of camels. Seventy five to 90% of the sampled forages had Mg concentration above the recommended levels during both the dry and the wet seasons. Similarly, Kuria et al (2004) reported that over 80% of preferred forage species by camel had Mg concentration above the recommended levels during both the dry and the wet seasons. Higher Mg concentration (Table 3) was found in the wet season compared to the dry season.  

Concentration of K in the browses ranged from 0.19 to 3.95% with a mean of 2.030.22% in the wet season and ranged from 0.04 to 3.75% with a mean of 1.460.22% in the dry season. In the dry season, 15% of sampled browses contained less than 0.6% K and 80% of the samples had greater concentration than 0.8% K and in the wet season only 5% of the sampled forages contained less than 0.6% K and 90% of the samples had greater concentration than 0.8% K. Mean K concentration in forages in both seasons were well above the critical level established (McDowell and Arthington 2005), indicating that the forage plants adequately supply K for browsing and/or grazing camels of different classes in the study area. McDowell and Valle (2000) reported that there are very few confirmed reports of K deficiency for ruminants grazing exclusively forages. The concentration of K in the wet season was higher than the dry season.  

Concentration of Na in the browses ranged from 0.049 to 0.24% with a mean of 0.120.01% in the wet season and ranged from 0.03 to 0.24% with a mean of 0.090.01% in the dry season. In this study, the recommended critical level of 0.18% Na (McDowell and Arthington 2005) in feed was used as reference to compare the Na status of sampled browses as camels highly need salt (Wilson 1984).  In the wet and the dry season, 65-85% of the sampled browses contained less than 0.18% Na recommended for ruminants, respectively. Considering the critical level (0.18%) already established for ruminants, the mean concentration of Na in browses in both seasons were lower than the established critical level signifying deficiency of Na in browses for camels in the study areas. French (1955) from his study concluded that NaCl is the most needed nutrient for livestock throughout East Africa. Natural forage low in Na has been reported in numerous tropical countries throughout the world (McDowell and Valle 2000). In contrast, Kuria et al (2004) reported that over 80% of preferred forage species of camels had Na concentration above the recommended levels during both the dry and the wet seasons at all the study sites in western Marsabit, Kenya. This could be due to high botanical composition of salty plants in the study sites in Kenya. In the present study, no difference was found on mean concentration of Na between the wet and the dry seasons. 

Phosphorus concentration in the browses ranged from 0.01 to 0.19% with a mean 0.120.008% in the wet season and ranged from 0.01 to 0.13% with a mean of 0.040.008% in the dry season. The mean P concentration in browses in both the wet and the dry seasons was below the recommended critical concentration (0.25%) required in forages to satisfy the requirements of ruminants (McDowell and Arthington 2005). This shows that browse species in the study areas are deficient in P. Similarly, in a review by McDowell et al (1984), P deficiency was reported in 46 tropical countries of Latin America, South-East Asia and Africa. Phosphorus concentration in forages was higher in the wet season than in the dry season. 

Trace elements composition in forages 

Iron concentration in browses ranged (ppm) from 93 to 693 with a mean of 34022.1 in the wet season and 51.3 to 188 with a mean of 97.822.1 in the dry season (Table 4 and 5). The Fe content in all sampled browses was well above the recommended level for ruminants in feeds in both the wet and the dry seasons with  higher concentration in the wet season than the dry season (Table 5). The forages in the study areas adequately supply the requirements of Fe for different classes of camels. Sousa et al (1981) reported high concentration of Fe in forages in both the wet and the dry seasons in northern Mato Grosso, Brazil. Most forage contains Fe concentration considerably in excess of the requirements of herbivorous animals (McDowell 1992). McDowell (1992) reported that Fe contents of most feed ingredients is highly variable, reflecting differences in soil and climatic conditions as well as differences in variety or processing procedures.

 

Table 4: Micro mineral concentration of browse species (DM basis) consumed by camels in Jijiga district as related to seasons

 

Botanical name of  browses

Fe

Mn

Zn

Cu

ppm

wet

dry

wet

dry

wet

dry

wet

dry

Acacia brevespica

240

85.5

47.6

24.1

47.6

30.4

13.6

8.51

Dichrostachys cinerea

320

137

76.2

65.5

38.1

50.6

9.09

5.64

Opontia ficus-indica

547

85.5

171

152

62

47.6

20.5

18.2

Acacia etbaica

200

120

76.2

20.7

54.4

14.3

15.4

9.93

Acacia senegal

413

68.4

47.6

141

54.4

24.8

18.8

7.27

Lantana camara

227

120

105

44.8

61.9

102

25.5

23.9

Acacia nilotica

267

51.3

9.52

325

66.7

130

10.9

17.1

Acacia tortilis

293

137

233

215

85.7

45.6

15.6

7.27

Belpharis persica

600

68.4

85.7

31

62.9

46.8

8.91

8.8

Grewia villosa

573

51.3

66.7

27.6

124

50.6

14.6

17.1

Ziziphus mouritiana

267

68.4

228

17.2

85.7

72.1

18.80

7.27

Euphorbia tirucalli

240

103

133

27.6

90.5

48.1

21.82

22

Helotropium cinerascens

693

68.4

371

44.8

58.6

62

18.8

3.64

Commicarpus africana

427

137

171

72.4

58.6

59.5

25.6

10.9

Rhus natalenis

307

120

248

48.3

54.8

62

23.9

10.9

Acacia seyal

387

68.4

324

17.2

81

46.8

18.8

3.64

Acacia bussei

93.3

55.6

209

17.2

66.7

46.8

27.6

10.9

Balanites glabra

347

120

200

107

57.1

60.8

23.9

13.6

Grewia ferruginea

120

103

333

213

90.5

64.6

25.5

22

Cadaba heterotricha

240

188

114

44.8

171

68.4

30.8

14.6

Mean

340

97.8

162

82.8

73.6

56.7

19.4

12.2


Manganese content in browses ranged from 9.52 to 371 ppm with a mean of 16221.1 ppm in the wet season and 17.2 to 325 ppm with a mean of 82.821.1 ppm in the dry season (Table 4 and 5). In the wet and the dry seasons, 5 and 40% of the sampled browses contained below the recommended concentration of Mn (McDowell and Arthington 2005) in feeds for ruminants. The mean concentration of Mn in forage plants is well above the minimum requirement indicated in both wet and dry seasons with higher concentration in the wet than in the dry season (Table 5). The mean concentration of Mn in browses is adequate to different classes of camels in the study areas in both seasons. Concentration of Mn in crops and forages is dependent on soil factors, plant species, and stage of maturity, yield, crop management, climate, and soil pH (McDowell 1992).

 

Table 5: Micro mineral concentration (ppm in DM) in browse species of camel as related to seasons

Minerals

Wet

Dry

SEM

Prob.

Iron

340a

97.8b

22.1

<.0001

  • Deficient

0

0

 

 

Manganese

162a

82.8b

21.1

0.011

  • Deficient

5

40

 

 

Zinc       

73.6 a

56.7b

6.08

0.0011

  • Deficient

0

10

 

 

Copper

19.4a

12.2b

1.38

0.0007

  • Deficient

10

45

 

 

a, b= Means within a row not bearing a common superscript differ significantly;  DM= Dry matter; SEM=Standard error mean; Deficient=percent of the forage samples deficient in given elements; ppm=parts per million.

Zinc concentration in browses ranged from 38.1 to 171 ppm with a mean of 73.66.08 ppm in the wet season and 14.3 to 130 ppm with a mean of 56.76.08 in the dry season (Table 4 and 5). In the dry season, 10% of the sampled browses contained below the recommended (McDowell and Arthington 2005) concentration for ruminants. Mean concentration of Zn in sampled browses were higher than the critical level for ruminants in both the wet and the dry seasons indicating adequate concentration of Zn in forages for different classes of camels. Higher concentration of Zn was obtained in the wet season compared to the dry season (Table 5). Mtimuni et al (1990) also reported a variation on Zn concentration of forages with high concentration in wet seasons in Malawi. 

Concentration of copper in sampled browses ranged (ppm) from 8.91 to 30.8 with a mean of 19.41.38 in the wet season and 3.64 to 23.9 with a mean of 12.21.38 in the dry season (Table 4 and 5).  In the wet and the dry seasons, 10 and 45%, respectively of sampled browses contained Cu in a concentration lower than the critical level suggested for ruminants (McDowell and Arthington 2005). Based on the critical level of Cu in feeds established for ruminants, forages in the study areas could supply adequate amount Cu for camels of different classes in both the wet and the dry seasons. Copper deficiency is a severe limitation in grazing ruminants and has been observed in many parts of the world (McDowell 1992). However, the current result and that of Woldu (1984) indicates that browse forages can supply adequate amount of Cu for browsing camels. This could be due to differences in soil factors, plant species and stage of maturity, climate, and soil pH (McDowell 1992). Copper concentration in the wet season was higher than that in the dry season (Table 5). 


Conclusions


Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the Haramaya University for its support during data collection and for the provision of facilities; they also acknowledge the Agricultural Research and Training Section of the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization for funding this study; and all those who have contributed to the study. 


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Received 8 September 2011; Accepted 7 February 2012; Published 4 March 2012

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