Submitted to: Small Ruminant Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/8/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: In the harsh environment of the Dera Ghazi Khan district of Pakistan lies the very arid (75 to 162 mm mean annual precipitation) highly degraded (70% bare ground) Thatta Leghari rangeland. The humans inhabiting this area place a high demand on livestock feed and fuel wood thus exacerbating the severe degradation that is occurring in this ecosystem. Preliminary research carried out between 1992 and 1993 with ambient air temperature an precipitation distribution similar to the long-term data recorded for the area provided encouraging results. Reseeding with gokha and buffel grasses produced more forage compared to the native range, 4000 kg/ha vs. 425 kg/ha in 1992 and 1250 kg/ha vs. 534 kg/ha in 1993, respectively. Among ten sheep and ten goats foraging in November and December 1993 high selectivity was revealed between sheep and goat diets that varied considerably between morning and afternoon observations. In general grasses, forbs and shrubs were eaten about equally (33%) by sheep while goats preferred shrubs (51%) but not grass (12%). These preliminary data suggest reseeding may be an important intervention for improving Thatta Leghari rangeland while improving sheep and goat nutrition.
Technical Abstract: Thatta Leghari rangeland in the Dera Ghazi Khan district of Pakistan covers an area of 1,004 ha. Its topography is undulating, soils are calcareous and low in organic matter and support a native standing crop of mainly unpalatable herbaceous vegetation. Due to uncontrolled grazing the range has degraded from its productive potential. Between 1992 and 1993 the native range (1,004 ha) was not grazed. In 1992 and 1993, a 600 ha area wa reseeded with 2 introduced grasses, gorkha (Lasiurus sindicus) and buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris). Forage production on the reseeded and native range was measured in 1992 and 1993 at the end of growing season during October. Weather during these 2 years reflected the long term mean conditions with respect to temperature and distribution of precipitation. The reseeded area produced 10 times (4,000 kg/ha) more forage than the native range (425 kg/ha) in 1992 and more than twice the forage (1,250 kg/ha vs 534 kg/ha) in 1993, a year with 37mm less total rainfall. Proximate analysis of the forage harvested in 1993 was determined for both treatments. Buffel grass was higher in crude protein (7.8%) than gorkha (6.2%) and chimber (5.9%; Eleusine flagellifera) a native grass. The native shrub lana (Salsola foetida) had a higher energy value, 2.7 Mcal/kg, than the other species. Daily goat and sheep diets consisted of 51% and 32% shrub respectively with grasses comprising the remainder. Forbs composed 35% of the sheep diet whereas, shrubs (51%) dominated the goat diets on the reseeded rangeland. Liveweight gain was differed (P<0.05) between goats (34g/d) and sheep (14g/d). These preliminary results indicate that reseeding may be an important intervention for Pakistan rangeland improvement, for improving nutrition for small ruminants.