Small ruminant feed systems: perceptions and practices in the transitional zone of Ghana

S. Duku, A.J. van der Zijpp, P.L. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background Adequate feeding is essential to realizing the potential of small ruminants to alleviate poverty among smallholder farmers. This study was conducted in two villages in the Ejura-Sekyedumase District of Ghana and was motivated by farmers' non-adoption of modern feed technologies, but more importantly by the need to understand the small ruminant feed system considering farmers' different socio-economic backgrounds and how these relate to small ruminant performance. In this study, the feed system was defined as the type, source and seasonality of feeds and how small ruminants access them. Methods Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to allow for triangulation. Data were collected in seven stages comprising key informant interviews, a census, a cultural domain study, botanical specimen collection and identification, focus group discussions, a household survey, and a small ruminant performance study. Results Farmers listed 175 items that are used as small ruminant feed and salience indexes were calculated. There was high consensus about the domain of small ruminant feeds, with 15 items comprising the consensus model. Respondent agreement scores correlated positively with age and negatively with list length. Respondents from matrilineal lineages had higher agreement scores than those from patrilineal lineages. Natural pasture and wild browse scored high in pair wise ranking by village and sex groups. Of the 33 feeds that farmers fed to goats, maize grains, cassava peels and Margaritaria discoidea were the most salient. Six major feed system groups based on access were identified at household level, which regrouped into three at village level based on feed type and source. Patrilineal households were more likely to tether their livestock. Significant differences were found between some socio-economic groups for pre-weaning average daily gain (ADG) of kids, but not for prolificacy of does. Conclusions The need for nutritive and agronomic investigations into major feeds, the creation of non-cropping zones around village fringes and studies on labour demands of different feed systems are proposed. The insight gained in this study on farmers' perceptions and practices relating to small ruminant feeds could guide in the selection and introduction of feed innovations that fit into current feed systems to enhance adoption
Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • indigenous knowledge
  • sheep
  • fodder
  • goats
  • age


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