Two separate experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of tanniferous (CT) browse plant supplementation on the growth, nutrient digestibility and blood biochemical properties of Djallonké sheep. The browse plants were Albizia lebbeck, Gmelina arborea, Senna siamea and Ceiba pentandra and were harvested from natural grazing fields within the vicinity of Nyankpala in Ghana. In experiment I, 20 semi-intensively kept Djallonké rams with average initial weight of 12.8±1.7 kg were randomly assigned four browse plants to evaluate their performance in terms of growth and blood biochemical properties. In experiment II, eight intensively managed Djallonké rams with an average initial weight of 13.8±1.56 kg were randomly assigned to a total mixed ration (TMR) made of browse plants, rice straw, minerals and vitamins to determine the nutrient digestibility. In experiment I, whereas lambs supplemented with the highest condensed tannin (CT) browse plant (C. Pentandra) had improved (P<0.05) ADWG compared to the control, it did not differ from the ADWG reported in lambs that were supplemented with A. lebbeck even though it did not contain measurable levels of CT. The blood metabolites did not differ among treatments. In experiment II, lambs fed with S. siamea ration had the lowest DMI with the highest reported in G. arborea. Lambs fed with A. lebbeck TMR had the highest (P<0.05) CP digestibility and nitrogen balance. The lowest NDF and ADF digestibility were obtained in animals fed the G. arborea diet. The tanniferous browse plants used in this experiment were high in nutritive value and resulted in improved live weight of lambs. They could be fed as supplement to lambs grazing natural pasture during periods of feeds scarcity.
Key words: Browse plants, blood metabolite, condensed tannin, Djallonké sheep, digestibility.
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