Seasonal availability and utilisation of feed resources and their impact on the nutrition of livestock in an agro pastoral system of the Hindu Kush Karakoram Himalayan region of Pakistan
Construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) has led to more rapid socio-economic change in areas close to highway than in more remote areas such as the Gilgit Ghizer Region (GGR) in Northern Pakistan. In the present study the aim was to compare the livestock enterprise in the developed region (i.e KKH) with the less developed area (i.e. GGR). A 2 x 3 factorial design was used with two geographical transects and three cropping zones and one village being studied within each cell. Nutritional inputs to, and productive outputs from, the livestock system, together with their interaction were investigated. Wheat straw (48%), lucerne (24%) and maize stover (13%) were the dominant feeds. Cereal crop residues and lucerne were main sources of energy and protein respectively. The main livestock species kept were cattle (51%), goats (31%), sheep (10%) and donkeys (8%). Overall, 65% of the herd was made up of non-productive animals. Feed sufficiency was 33% greater in the KKH transect (P < 0.05) and feed offered was 33% higher per unit liveweight in the KKH transect (P < 0.05). Stored feeds and herd weight per household were higher in the GGR transect (P < 0.05). Daily milk yield and calving rate were higher (P < 0.05) in the KKH (2.9 l/d and 0.82) compared with the GGR transect (2.3 l/d and 0.52). However proportions of fodder and cattle sold were higher (P < 0.05) in the GGR transect (16.5 % and 8%) than in the KKH transect (8.5% and <1). Overall, performance was higher in the KKH transect and this was related to herd size being better matched with feed resources. Larger herds in the GGR transect reduced animal performance but detrimental effects appeared to be partly masked by differences in the quality of summer pasture resources between transects.