In the Coastal Lowlands of Kenya, small-scale integrated crop-livestock system is the dominant form of agricultural production. Feed quantity and quality are inadequate and rarely meet the nutrient demands of lactating cows especially in the dry seasons. The objective of this study was to determine the seasonal distribution and estimate seasonal yields of common roughages in Coastal Lowlands of Kenya. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Kwale and Kilifi counties on a random sample of 415 dairy cattle farms followed by a longitudinal survey on a purposive sample of 32 farms from the cross-sectional sample over a period of 12 months. The seasonal estimated yields varied significantly (P <0.05) between various common roughages. The seasonal DM yields ranged from 674.7 t DM in season III (long rains dry season: January – March 2014) to 1,642.8 t DM in season IV (long rains season: April – June 2014). Farmers experienced the most acute feed shortages in season III. Pastures grasses were the most important feed resource and contributed 50.6, 42.6, 69.5 and 52.5% in seasons I, II, III and IV of feed resource, respectively. Natural pastures mixture had the highest yields throughout the year and constituted 34.3% of feed resource produced on-farm. Asystacia gangetica had the lowest yields throughout the year and constituted 2.3% of feed resource produced on-farm. There was a deficit in DM availability during the dry season which could be remedied through conserving excess feed during the wet season. These results could be used to develop an integrated forage production and livestock nutrition management plan to provide sufficient year-round feed supply based on animal requirements and supplementation strategies.
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RUFORUM Working document series