Dairy cattle productivity is affected by many factors such as genetics, infectious diseases, husbandry and diet. Fodder resources, fodder availability and feeding strategies were assessed by means of questionnaires and interviews in seventeen dairy farms in Addis Ababa, Sendafa and Debre Zeit. Nutrient content was analyzed from hay sample. The farms were categorized as small, medium or large. Nutrient content, as well as milk production for the given rations were estimated per farm. Results showed that most farms were landless and grass availability was seen in only 1/3 of the farms. Purchased hay was of poor quality and needed to be bulked stored for the year. Storage capacity and quality varied with farm size. Supplemental feed varied by farm size and many of them were available only seasonally and were costly. With the exception of large farms, quality of fodder was poor in 70% of the farms, hence likely impacting animal productivity and health. Overall, constraints related to feeding and animal performance were: low fodder quality containing too little protein and energy, poor fodder storage condition, seasonal and costly fodder availability, poor feeding strategy, and lack of knowledge of small and medium farm owners regarding dairy husbandry and feeding management.
Key words: Ethiopia, fodder, dairy cattle, productivity, feeding management.
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