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Intensive grazing system for small ruminants in the tropics: the French West Indies experience and perspectives

Abstract : The French West Indies and Caribbean authorities have the objective of increasing small ruminant production to match market demand and develop local economies. This paper highlights research results obtained in the French West Indies over the last 25 years in small ruminant farming. The accumulated knowledge enabled the design of an intensive grazing system whose main characteristics are: (i) three mating periods a year, each one involving half the flock, in order to achieve an 8-month interval between parturitions; (ii) rotational grazing of pastures (1 week in, 4–5 weeks out); (iii) irrigation during the dry season, according to the grass requirement and rainfall shortage; and fertilisation from 0.5 to 1 kg N per day per ha; (iv) stocking rate of up to 40 suckling ewes or 60 suckling goats per ha, or from 1200 to 1600 kg live weight (LW) per hectare for weaned lambs and kids. The average live weights of weaners were 27.9 and 16.3 kg LW per female per year, for ewes and goats, respectively. The yearly post weaning output reached 1482 and 1132 kg LW/ha, for sheep and goats, respectively. The constraints to production are highlighted and some proposals for improved small ruminant farming are suggested.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 29, 2020 - 9:43:00 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 5:17:05 PM

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Maurice Mahieu, Harry Archimède, Jérôme Fleury, Nathalie Mandonnet, Gisèle Alexandre. Intensive grazing system for small ruminants in the tropics: the French West Indies experience and perspectives. Small Ruminant Research, Elsevier, 2008, 77 (2-3), pp.195-207. ⟨10.1016/j.smallrumres.2008.03.013⟩. ⟨hal-02654593⟩



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