This study investigated the potential benefit of introducing Moringa oleifera (MO) and Leucaena leucocephala (LL) leaves as supplementary feed resource for indigenous goats feeding systems in southern Mozambique. The study started with a description of smallholder goat production systems in three resource-poor districts of Mozambique and subsequently investigated the variation and seasonal fluctuations of natural fodder quality in the Changalane district throughout a year period. Thereafter, the effect of tree forage supplementation on growth and reproductive performance of Landim goats were evaluated by simulating a typical feeding system used in the study area.
In study one, a survey was conducted in three villages to collect data on indigenous goats and in smallholder husbandry practices in terms of feeding, health and reproduction management. Information from 45-smallholder goat keepers were recorded using a survey, which was complemented by interviews. Results showed that goats were raised under extensive systems, under free grazing. Tethering was a common management practice, with limited supplementation during the dry season. In general, during the dry season the natural pasture were scarcity and poor in quality and consequently does not sustained the energy and protein requirements of ruminants for maintenance and other functions. In study two, the eight key species that were consumed by the goats (namely Sclerocarya birrea, Spirostachys africana, Dichrostachys cinerea, Flueggea virosa, Acacia nigrescens, Acacia nilotica, Panicum maximum and Morus alba) were collected and analysed. Daily energy intake (4.27 ± 0.17 MJ/kg DM vs 3.71 ± 0.41 MJ/kg DM) and crude protein (CP) intake (92.83 ± 16.05 g DM/head/day vs. 59.38 ± 13.12 g DM/head/day) were higher in the rainy season than in the dry season. Daily intake of calcium and phosphorus did not show significant seasonal variations and were below the requirements levels for maintenance of a 20 kg bodyweight goat during the dry season and for the pregnant goat during both seasons. These results showed a need to supplement goats with energy, protein and phosphorus for maintenance, growth and reproduction during the dry season. In study three, the impact of supplementation with LL and MO on the growth and reproduction performance of indigenous goats were evaluated. Fifty-six goats were randomly divided into seven groups, with four castrated males and four females in each group. One group was used as the control group (animals grazing on natural veld without any supplementation), while first three groups were fed with LL and the other three groups with MO tree leaves, respectively. Compared to the control group, both treatments had a significant effect, irrespective of the level of supplementation in terms of overall body weight gain and the final body weight of the bucks. All female reproduction parameters measured for the supplemented groups were superior when compared to the control group. Findings of this study suggest the benefit of using LL and MO tree leaves as supplement for Mozambican goats to overcome the adverse effects of seasonal fluctuations in feed quality on their growth and reproductive performance.