Effects of feed and health interventions on small ruminant production in mixed crop-livestock systems in southern Mali

In Mali, small ruminants are a necessary part of mixed crop and livestock systems, and they fulfill various roles in the food security of households as sources of meat and milk, and means of additional income to meet food and cash needs. However, small ruminant production is challenged by the poor performance of animals, which is mainly caused by inadequate nutrition and diseases. A pilot study that combined feed and health interventions was conducted in two villages, Sirakele and Zanzoni in Koutiala District in the south of the country. The objective was to assess the effects of the combined interventions on small ruminant production in mixed crop-livestock systems. Zanzoni served as control, and Sirakele received both feed and health interventions. Twenty households were randomly selected in each village and the study lasted one year, from August 2016 to August 2017. Results showed that within a year the average goat and sheep flock size in the feed and health intervention group doubled, whereas it mostly remained the same in the control group. The mortality rate was significantly lower in the treatment group than in the control one. In addition, the goats and sheep gained 42.98 ± 3.28 and 47.12 ± 2.73 g/day in the treatment group, whereas they only gained 22.59 ± 2.29 and 16.58 ± 2.74 g/day in the control group, respectively. The results confirmed that feed and health interventions significantly improved small ruminant production.