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Effect of graded levels of Mexican sunflower leaf (Tithonia diversifolia Hemsl. A. Gray) meal on the feed intake of ewe during the entire gestation period of 150 days

A.H. Ekeocha, P.O. Fakolade


A 150 – day feeding trial was conducted to evaluate Mexican Sunflower leaf (MSL) as dietary fiber source in sheep diets. Straight diets were formulated to contain the MSL at dietary levels of 0%, 15%, 30% and 45% as replacement for wheat bran. Sixteen (16) West African dwarf ewe weighing 17.50 to 17.88kg were allotted to the 4 diets containing four replicates per treatment with 1 ewe per replicate in a completely randomized design (CRD). Ewes were given ad libitum access to feed and water and routine vaccination and medication followed standard procedures. Parameters measured were changes in feed intake during early, mid and late pregnancy and Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and ANOVA. There were significant (p<0.05) differences in concentrate dry matter intake (CDMI) from pre-pregnancy phase (181.80 - 536.80g/day) through early (210.50 – 621.50g/day), mid (225.80 – 666.70g/day) and late pregnancy (195.20 – 576.30g/day) with animals in treatment B having the highest CDMI while animals on treatment D having the least. Contrarily, there were significant (p<0.05) differences in grass dry matter intake (GDMI) from pre-pregnancy phase (130.65 – 215.95g/day) through early (151.28 – 243.72g/day), mid (162.28 – 268.23g/day) and late pregnancy (140.28 – 231.86g/day) with animals in treatment C having the highest GDMI during pre-pregnancy, mid and late pregnancy and animals in treatment D having the highest during early pregnancy while animals in treatments A and B having the least. Total Dry Matter Intake (TDMI) increased from pre-pregnancy phase (392.30 – 695.00g/day) through early (454.20 – 804.80g/day), mid (487.20 – 863.30g/day) and decline during late pregnancy (420.70 – 746.20g/day) with animals in treatment B consistently having the highest TDMI while animals in treatment D having the least. The results in this study for feed conversion ratio though best for animals in diets B (15%MSL) did not differ statistically. The feed conversion trends observed in this study suggested that sheep gained weight in relation to their feed intake. At parturition mean weight of animals on diet B was highest (26.03kg) while mean weight of animals on diet D was lowest (22.80kg) (P>0.05). The results of this study suggest that Mexican Sunflower Leaf Meal could suitably replace Wheat bran in the diets of pregnant ewe up to 30% level of inclusion without eliciting any adverse effect.

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