| Using fodder from trees and shrubs to feed livestock in the tropics |
1. Trees and shrubs play a number of very important roles for people and their livestock. The whole tree provides shade, serves as a windbreak and controls soil erosion.
2. The various parts of the tree also play special roles. Stems and branches give us fuelwood, and timber, while roots, leaves, flowers and bark are used as drugs.
3. Also, some trees, known as leguminous trees, improve the soil by fixing nitrogen from the air, making it available to livestock.
4. For livestock farmers, the tree's most important role is the use of leaves, flowers, tender twigs, seeds, fruits and pods as feed or fodder for the animals, and food for the farmers themselves.
5. In dry tropical areas where rainfall is low and therefore grasses for feeding animals are seasonally scarce and low in quality, you can sometimes feed your animals almost entirely on fodder trees. Even in the wetter areas where rainfall is high, and plenty of grass is available most of the time, you should still feed tree fodder to your animals, because fodder from trees contains important feed items (nutrients) that grasses sometimes do not have.
6. Animals fed tree fodder together with grasses will therefore be healthy, and grow faster than those that are fed only on grasses.
7. We shall later describe how to grow these trees and how much of the tree fodder has to be fed, either alone or with grasses, to ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats and buffaloes, and to non- ruminants such as pigs, poultry and rabbits.