Feeding Characteristics Of Sheep (ovis Aries Linnaeus) And Grants Gazelles (gazella Granti Brooke) On Kapiti Ranch, Kenya.
Ekaya, Wellington. N
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A study was conducted to determine dietary characteristics of sheep and Grant's gazelles on Kapiti Ranch, Kenya. The dietary botanical composition was determined using the microhistological technique. Plant species in the diets were categorized into grass, forb and browse classes. Shannon-Wiener and Morisita's similarity indices were used to express dietary diversity and overlap respectively. Diets were simulated based on microhistology results to give 50 gm samples, then analysed for crude protein, neutral detergent fibre, acid detergent fibre, cellulose, lignin, and in vitro dry matter digestibility. Sheep were predominantly grazers during dry and wet season while Grant's gazelles were mixed feeders, with a higher preference for grasses during the wet season and an equal preference for both grasses and browse during the dry season. Diets of Grant's gazelles were more diverse than those of sheep for both seasons. Degree of dietary overlap between the animal species was highest during the wet season. There were significant differences (P<0.05) in dietary nutrient content between the animal species, within seasons. Dry matter digestibility was significantly higher (P<0.05) for both species during the wet season. Neutral detergent fibre, acid detergent fibre, lignin and cellulose were significantly higher (P<0.05) during the dry season. Sheep diets were significantly higher (P<0.05) in crude protein during the wet season, whereas it was significantly higher (P<0.05) in the diets of Grant's gazelles during the dry season. Study findings indicate that, sheep and Grant's gazelles are compatible for efficient use of vegetation on Athi Kapiti plains. Integration of the two ruminants can make unique and important contribution to food production and income generation opportunities in areas with vegetation composition similar to that of Athi Kapiti plains.