Ethnobotanical studies of fodder grass resources for ruminant animals, based on the traditional knowledge of indigenous communities in Central Punjab Pakistan
Traditional knowledge of indigenous plants is pivotal in developing strategies to feed livestock sustainably in low input systems. Likewise, in Pakistan the indigenous people of Central Punjab have been using their regional grasses as a ruminant fodder for centuries. This study evaluated the indigenous traditional knowledge to ascertain the value of various fodder grasses to optimise their use to feed livestock in Central Punjab.
The snowball technique was employed to identify key informants who had relevant knowledge about different grasses in the study area. Semi-structured questionnaires, face-to-face interviews and site visits were used for describing the fodder grasses. The data were then analysed by using relative frequency citation and pairwise comparison methods to determine the order of priority among the listed fodder grasses. Furthermore, SPSS 22 software was used for descriptive statistics and interpretation of associations among studied parameters. Microsoft Excel was used to present data as % values and graphs.
Overall, 53 grasses were described with ethnobotanical information regarding their uses for fodder, ethnoveterinary and other purposes. All these grasses belonged to the family Poaceae where the subfamily Panicoideae had the maximum number of 30 grasses. We categorized these grasses into high (A), medium (B) and low priority (C) groups where the group A grasses were reported as not only the most abundant but also the most palatable forages to all ruminants. Their higher demand was reflected by the feeding systems of both ad libitum grazing and feeding after cutting and mixing with other feeds. The study also revealed 37 previously unreported ethnoveterinary uses of these grasses.
The results have reinforced the value of conserving ethnobotanical knowledge, being poorly documented previously, in developing strategies to feed livestock. It indicated the preferred fodder grasses as well as the possible reasons of their preference. The reported data need to be validated for nutritional and health benefits. This information could help the smallholder farmers in association with regional governments to propagate suitable fodder grasses for their use in sustainable livestock feeding to produce safe and healthy food for indigenous communities.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s13002-017-0184-5
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