Young livestock in tropical areas are commonly underfed as they usually graze on poor quality soils and receive only small amounts of supplements or none at all (Ugarte, 1989). Grazing poor quality pastures might be replaced by dietary inclusion of less conventional, albeit also highly fibrous, agricultural by-products. Accordingly, efficient establishment of a fibrolytic microbial population in the rumen is of utmost importance.Furthermore, balancing diets of young livestock through supplementation of legumes might allow a more efficient utilisation of low-quality forages (Sridhar and Seena, 2006). Legumes are an inexpensive source of proteins and some less conventional legume resources particularly should be exploited in the tropics given their adaptation to adverse environmental conditions and high resistance to diseases and pests, resulting in higher forage and grain yields (Lima-Orozco, 2011). However, the enhanced adaptation of these legumes to tropical conditions most often is associated with antinutritional properties (Sridhar and Seena, 2006). While rumen microbial detoxification might enhance the nutritional value of many legumes for ruminants, the presence of these antinutritional factors (ANF) limits the nutritional value for non-ruminants and ruminants with a pre-maturely developed rumen microbial population. Hence,
a rapid establishment of ANF-degrading bacteria is of utmost importance to allow inclusion of unconventional but promising tropical legumes in diets of young livestock.
The main link of the project proposal to the VLIR-UOS country specific strategic guidelines is the increase of food security. The idea is to encourage the use of locally available animal feed resources and to improve their nutritive value.
Results of this project should allow enhanced use of crops that are adapted to Cuban (tropical) agro-meteorological conditions and as such will be able to increase the ruminant’s productivity. The project will also further strengthen the knowledge and capacities of the local staff, particularly Einar Artiles Ortega (PhD student) and his local supervisor (Raciel Lima Orozco).