Effects of feeding Lantana camara leaf hay on animal performance and health in small East Africa goat breeds.
Background: Lantana camara is listed as one of the worst invasive species worldwide and is considered poisonous to livestock. However, in invaded Zimbabwean rangelands, voluntary intake by domestic livestock especially goats of this shrub is common, yet, little is understood about the effect of this browse on animal performance. Objectives: To assess the effects of feeding graded levels of L. camara (LC) leafy hay on the performance, digestibility, nitrogen balance and microbial protein synthesis in Small East Africa Goat Breeds. Methodology: Eighteen, six to ten months old castrated goats with a mean± (SD) weight of 13.6±4.9 kg were randomly assigned to the six treatment diets in a completely randomised design. Each goat was housed separately in a metabolism cage for the entire experimental period of 21 days. Lantana camara leaf hay was incorporated in goat feed as a protein source at 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, and 25% inclusion levels. Commercially bought, goat feed was used as the sixth and control treatment diet. Veld hay was used as a basal diet and water were offered ad-libitum. Results: The average daily dry matter intake was above the minimum recommended of 3% of the animal's metabolic body weight (kg0.75). Goats fed on 10%LC consumed significantly lower quantities of hay than 5%LC but were not significantly different from goat feed (GF), 15%LC, 20%LC and 25%LC. Apparent digestibility coefficient values ranged from 62% to 71%. Higher nitrogen intakes was observed with diets that were highly palatable such as commercial goat feed and 5% L. camara. Higher microbial protein supply was observed in groups fed diets with high levels of L. camara. Implications: The use of invasive L. camara biomass as a source of goat feed at 5% inclusion is a promising method to control its spread in while addressing the nitrogen deficiencies experienced by livestock that subsist on poor quality feeds in invaded rangelands. Conclusion: Supplementing goats with L. camara leafy hay improves dry matter feed intake and degradability. Contrary to expectations, no negative effects were observed with L. camara leafy meal inclusion in goats diets at 5 to 25 percent inclusion level.