Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences Vol. 4 (6), pp. 252-257, July 2014.
Manuscript Number: 011714045
Influence of Communal Area Grazing System on Cattle Performance and Vegetation Parameters in a Semi-arid Area of Zimbabwe
Department of Livestock, Wildlife and Fisheries, School of Agricultural Sciences, Great Zimbabwe University, P. O. Box 1235, Masvingo, Zimbabwe.
A study was conducted to determine the impact of grazing management system on cattle performance and vegetation parameters in a semi-arid area of Zimbabwe. Two areas, where traditional grazing management and grazing schemes were practised, were selected for the study. The performance of cattle was determined through body condition scoring of the animals. The assessments were done at the end of the rainy season, after the cattle had spent five months under either traditional grazing system or grazing scheme. Body condition scores were higher (P<0.05) for cattle under the traditional system than those from grazing schemes. Vegetation parameters analysed in the grazing areas included basal cover, species composition, plant vigour and the overall veld score. Under both grazing management systems, overall veld ratings were poor. Grazing schemes have not resulted in improved basal cover, plant vigour and species richness. These findings suggest that grazing schemes tended to compromise performance under poor range conditions, possibly due to limited range resources. The ability of cattle under traditional grazing management system to switch effectively among the different range resources might have enhanced their body condition going into the dry season.
Keywords: body condition, range resources, grazing scheme, vegetation parameters, grazing management.
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