IRDP will lead on livestock activities, in cooperation with agricultural research institutions and District Council extension staff.
L1. Genetic improvement of local cattle and control of diseases
The cattle breed found in Chololo village is Tanzania Short Horn Zebu (TSZ). Although this breed has high tolerance to diseases and feed shortage, it has low genetic potential in terms of milk and carcass yield. To improve its genetic potential, 25 Mpwapwa breeding bulls will be used to mate with 300 selected TSZ females from Chololo village in the first phase. Through training farmers will be equipped with innovations on management of improved cattle such as feeding, dipping for the control of ticks and vaccination for the control of viral diseases. The offspring resulting from mating of TSZ with Mpwapwa breed will have high growth rates, high carcass weight and high milk yield thus contributing to livelihood improvements through the sales milk and cattle and meat. Hence the number of TSZ will be reduced in favour of fewer crossbred cattle. This will reduce greatly the role of cattle in environmental degradation.
L2. Genetic improvement of local goats
The improved dual purpose (milk/meat) bucks will be mated to selected good quality local female goats. The continual crossing of local female goats and F1 with improved bucks will be encouraged until the level of inheritance of improved goat breed reach up to 87.5 to 93.75% in the population of goats in the village. These offspring will have high growth rates, high milk yield and high carcass weights compared to unimproved goats, hence through sensitization it is expected that it will lead to reduction of number of local goats, which will ultimately be healthier for the environment.
L3. Genetic improvement of local chickens and control of diseases
Discussion with a focus group of Chololo women identified improvements to chicken raising as the activity most likely to benefit women. Most of the households in Chololo village possess a few chickens, mostly owned by women and youth. Two strategies are considered crucially important for improving local chicken ecotypes. Firstly, introduction of improved dual purpose (eggs/meat) cock breed for rapid genetic improvement of local chicken. Secondly, farmers will be trained on chicken diseases and their control measures. Special attention will be given to the devastating Newcastle disease, which contributes to more than 90 % chicken mortality rates in Chololo. Training tailored on appropriate use of vaccine particularly I2 (i.e. it is thermo-stable vaccine for easy handling without the need to use refrigerators) and training of community vaccinators will carried out to reduce mortality rate to 40 % in year one and attain 5 % mortality rate in year two.
L4. Improvement of dry season feeding
Before strategies to improve dry season feeding are implemented, production potential of the demarcated grazing land will be determined by conduction botanical composition studies, assessing the carrying capacity, stocking rate and grazing potential. Available forage will be estimated by harvesting all herbaceous vegetation within 40 randomly located 1m2 quadrants and all fodder tree leaves to a browsing height of 1.5 m from 10 randomly located 40 m2 quadrants. The quadrant will be allocated from four randomly located routes or transects across the grazing land. Following these collections, tree leaves and herbaceous vegetation will be hand-sorted into individual species or species groups. The focus will be on few key species that are dominant and the remaining species of interest will be allocated to broad groups that will be based on either morphological characteristics or functional features (e.g. perennial forage grasses or annual). Botanical composition (species composition) will be calculated by expressing the proportion of each species relative to the value determined for the entire site.
Improvement of dry season feeding will be implemented by introduction of improved pastures and browse species which are adaptable to semi-arid environment (such as Cenchrus cilliaris and Clitoria ternatea) using minimum tillage (strip cultivation). Strip cultivation will be used in order to allow the growth of the existing adaptable pastures. Since the village land is owned communally the participatory decision will be reached on amount of land which will be used to establish improved pasture species. Initially 30 ha of grazing land is proposed for establishment of improved pastures. Similarly, 30 livestock keepers’ willingness to provide at least 1 ha of land for raising improved pasture will be involved. Strips of 60 cm wide and 2 m apart will be constructed across the site using oxen-plough. Soil fertility at the experimental sites will be assessed before planting. Seeds of the recommended grasses, herbaceous forage legumes and fodder tree species will be acquired from National Livestock Research Institute (NLRI) Mpwapwa, and Pasture Research Centre Kongwa. Grass and herbaceous forage legumes seeds will be sown directly by drilling the seeds along the cultivated strips in alternative rows. Planting arrangement will be in such a way that two rows of grass species will be followed by a row of herbaceous forage legumes. They will be allowed to establish for two consecutive seasons to set seeds before they can be harvested or grazed. Weeding operations will be carried out to remove undesirable plants or vegetation at least twice during the wet season. The farmers will carry out all field operations including land preparation, planting and weeding.
Strategies to overcome dry season feeding constraints will also include optimizing the nutritive value of the crop residues through strategic harvesting. Validation of conservation methods will include haymaking, standing hay, stacking of maize/sorghum stovers and use of indigenous knowledge.
Traditional watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris) can provide supplementary sources of water and protein in the semi-arid environment of Chololo. The project will explore the effective means of intercropping food crops with watermelon to optimize productivity. Lessons on quantity of water melon fruits produced per season and feeding regime will be shared.
Once established, the production potential of the improved grazing land will be assessed. Forage yield data will be used to calculate the carrying capacity of the improved grazing land. Grazing trials using different classes and categories of livestock will be carried out to determine proper stocking rates at different times of the year. Finally, a comprehensive grazing plan will be developed based on the carrying capacity and stocking rate.