Nutrient Requirements of Livestock for Sustainable Productivity in Tropical Africa: A Review (Published)
The objective of this paper was to review nutrient requirements of farm animals in other to improve feed supply and utilization for healthy sustainable livestock productivity in tropical Africa. Farm animals require nutrients to support body maintenance, reproduction, lactation, and growth. The nutritional needs of livestock vary according to breed, age, sex, class, stage of production, performance level and weight. Physiological and environmental stressors, such as sickness and weather, can also influence nutritional requirements of farm animals. Most livestock need carbohydrates, protein, minerals, vitamins and water. Identification of nutritional need of farm animals throughout the production cycle is paramount. Feeding animals without consideration to their nutrient requirements is tantamount to wasting time and resources. Matching animal requirements to nutrient value of feeds and using body condition score to fine tune the nutritional program of farm animals is also economically advantageous. Feed, whether purchased or produced on the farm, make up a large part of the expenses incurred in livestock production. Therefore, for profitable and healthy production, proper feeding and year-round management are essential. Without proper nutrition, it is impossible to produce a high-quality livestock, wean healthy heavy animals, and develop satisfactory flock replacements. All livestock producers should have a basic understanding of animal nutrition and should be familiar with common nutrition terms. Producers must also know the nutritional requirements of the animals at different stages of life. The ideal nutrition program supports optimum production, is efficient and economical, and minimizes related problems. In order to understand the fundamentals of livestock nutrition, the farmer must first know the nutrients essential for growth, production, and reproduction.