Opportunities to improve goat production and food security in Botswana through forage nutrition and the use of supplemental feeds

Andrew S Cooke*, Honest Machekano, Javier Ventura-Cordero, Aranzazu Louro-Lopez, Virgil Joseph, Lovemore C Gwiriri, Taro Takahashi, Eric R Morgan, Michael R F Lee, Casper Nyamukondiwa

*Corresponding author for this work

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Goats fulfil a central role in food and nutritional security across Africa with over half of households owning or rearing goats in rural areas. However, goat performance is poor and mortality high. This study assessed the nutritional quality of commonly used feeds and proposes feed-baskets to enhance goat nutrition and health. Feeds were collected from 11 areas within the Central District of Botswana, and macronutrient analyses were conducted, including crude protein, fibre fractions, ash, and metabolizable energy (ME). Forage nutrition was compared across seasons and soil types. Additionally, seasonal supplementation trials were conducted to evaluate consumption rates of various supplements, including crop residues, pellets, Lablab purpureus, and Dichrostachys cinerea. Each supplement was provided ad libitum for a 24-h period, and consumption rates determined. Findings revealed significant differences in nutrition among various feed sources, across seasons, and in relation to soil types (p L. purpureus, and 15% for D. cinerea. While wet season feed baskets exhibited higher ME values compared to dry-season feed-baskets, the relative impact of supplementation was more pronounced during the dry season. These results highlight the potential for optimizing goat diets through improved grazing and browsing management, especially during the reduced nutritional availability in the dry season in Botswana. Such diet optimisation may improve goat health and productivity, which may positively impact the food and financial security of smallholders by providing both increased yields and increased resilience. Importantly, rural communities can experience some of the lowest food security levels in the region. The interventions explored in this study utilise natural capital, often freely available, which can be deployed through existing husbandry systems, potentially making them accessible and practical to smallholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-622
Number of pages16
JournalFood Security
Issue number3
Early online date17 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2024


  • Agriculture
  • Livestock
  • Nutrition
  • Ruminants
  • Africa
  • Goats
  • Smallholder


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