Evaluation of lifetime productivity of an individual animal in response to target interventions for improving the productivity of smallholder livestock systems in the humid tropics of West Africa is critical. It allows assessing longterm investment opportunities for farmers and options to minimize risk.
To gain better understanding of the interventions for improvement of small ruminant production in southwest Nigeria, a dynamic modeling approach was used to explore the effect of feeding strategies on the lifetime productivity of the West African Dwarf (WAD) goats.
The model was tested using the common feeding practices of the smallholders’ WAD goat production system in the
humid tropics. Lifetime productivity parameters, namely body weight, age of the animal, age at first and last kidding,
number of kids produced, weight of kid at birth, weight of kid at weaning and kidding interval were simulated for
individual animals throughout their lifetime.
Three scenarios were simulated based on the dominant feeding systems in the study areas: free grazing, grazing with supplementation (Gliricidia sepium) and the cut-and-carry feeding systems.
Supplementing the natural pasture with either browse or concentrates throughout productive life span of both
the initial flock and the kids born within the simulation resulted in significant changes in all indicators of lifetime
productivity. Although both supplementation with concentrates and Gliricidia sepium met the nutrient requirements of goats for growth performance and reproduction, lifetime productivity was maximized using the cut-and-carry feeding system.
Adoption of cut-and-carry management with concentrate supplementation will largely depend on its cost and benefit. Thus, incorporation of forage legumes in food crop to improve feed quality and quantity and the use
of formulated feed ration using cheap and available feed resources as supplements in a cut-and-carry system could
improve system productivity.