Palatibility of Opuntia varieties available in South Africa for dryland sheep

Author: S.M. Grobler, K. Dearlove and M.M. Scholtz
Year: 2010
Issue: 5
Volume: 40
Page: 495 - 498

Opuntia is generally recognized as a fruit crop for semi-arid, subtropical conditions around the world.  The majority of Opuntia plant biomass is palatable and is a cladode material rather than fruits which can be fed to livestock.  An experiment was conducted on the Roodeplaat Experimental farm, situated north east of Pretoria, South Africa.  Forty two Opuntia varieties were fed fresh to evaluate their palatability to dryland sheep.  The experiment consisted of four Pedi sheep blocked according to weight in five camps containing three feeding troughs, where three different varieties were fed randomly on a daily basis. Each Variety was presented in a different camp in a different combination for five days.  All varieties, except for Rubusta, were palatable and intake varied between 11.3 kg and 13.4 kg for the four sheep. The dry matter, crude protein-, ether extract, TNC and WSC of the different varieties were determined, but could not be linked to palatability. Big differences in yield were found between different varieties. Recommendations on further research regarding Opuntia are made in the paper.

Keywords: intake, Pedi sheep, prickly pear
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