Tropical Grasslands (2001) Volume 35, 124–127

Research note: Intensive fodder gardens for improving forage availability for smallholder dairy production in Hai district, Tanzania

E.J. MTENGETI, N.A. URIO and G.D. MLAY

Department of Animal Science and Production, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania

Abstract

Studies on intensive fodder gardens using small backyard fodder plots were conducted at 3 sites in Hai district to increase forage availability for smallholder dairy production. The small backyard fodder plots managed intensively like vegetable gardens were thus termed "intensive fodder gardens". Three grasses, elephant grass (Pennisetum pupureum), guatemala grass (Tripsacum laxum) and setaria grass (Setaria splendida), were planted alone (the cultural method) or with Greenleaf desmodium (Desmodium intortum). The yield of the forages was recorded over 3 years. Annual fresh herbage yield from pure grass plots ranged from 48–254 t/ha in the first year of establishment and did not differ significantly (P > 0.05) from grass-legume plots. However, total dry matter yield during the following 18 months for the pure grass plots (27–104 t/ha) was significantly (P < 0.05) lower than yield from grass-legume plots (29–109 t/ha). Whether in pure or mixed stands, elephant grass yield was highest at all 3 sites. The results indicate that intensive fodder gardens can improve forage availability where land scarcity is a major constraint to smallholder dairy production.

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