Cowpea haulms to the rescue: Using cowpea residues to feed livestock

| October 9, 2017

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This week’s Farmer story from Kenya highlights the benefits of Brachiaria grass when used as animal feed. Our Script of the week features a crop that can be used for both human and animal feed: cowpea.

Cowpea is a very important legume crop in West Africa. It’s a common and cheap source of protein for rural and urban families. Indeed, cowpea is often referred to as “the poor man’s meat” because it contains a lot of protein.

Livestock production is also very important and a major source of income for many farmers. Livestock provide quick income that helps individuals meet their financial needs.

In Ghana, there are very few feed manufacturers, and most concentrate on poultry. Feed prices vary from one shop to another, and prices can be high. In rural areas, there is little or no supply of feed, and costs may double because of the expense of transporting feed from rural areas. As a result, rural farmers tend to release their animals to find food for themselves, which does not guarantee adequate and balanced nutrition for the animals.

This script gives a detailed account of how to feed goats and sheep with cowpea residues, the benefits and challenges of doing so, and the solutions to these challenges. It also describes how to carefully prepare cowpea residues for the animals in order to maximize their growth. How well the animals grow determines a farmer’s wealth, and the ability of individuals who raise and sell animals to support themselves and their families.

If you want to use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on sources of nutritious and affordable feed for domestic livestock, talk to farmers and other experts who are dealing with these challenges. You might ask them:

  • What difficulties do you experience with feeding livestock in this area?
  • Do farmers ever feed cowpea residues to their domestic animals? What has been the result?
  • Are there challenges to feeding cowpea residues to animals in your area?
  • Have some farmers or experts suggested or tried solutions to these challenges?

As well as speaking directly to farmers and other key players in the local agriculture sector, you could use these questions as the basis for a phone-in or text-in program.