Main Article Content
The objectives of this study were to asses the cultivation and utilization of Piliostigma thonningii (P.thonningii) and to evaluate the chemical composition and in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) of twigs and leaves of P.thonningii harvested at different phenological stages of the tree in Northwestern Ethiopia. A total of 180 purposively selected households from four districts were interviewed. Leaf and twig samples of P.thonningii were harvested at three different phenological stages of the tree. Stage one (S1) was the time when P. thonningii leaves were well emerged after complete shedding of the leaves (May); stage two (S2) was the time between leaf emergence and leaf shedding (August); and stage three (S3) was the time when the plant starts shedding its leaves (November). The study showed that 97.8% of the respondents used P.thonningii as a feed resource and to fill the feed deficits during times of feed shortage. Leaves, twigs and pods of P.thonningii were reported as edible parts of the plant by cattle, sheep and goats. Respondents had a positive impression on the feeding value of P.thonningii. The crude protein (CP) content varies
from 16.8 to 20 g/kg DM and 10.5 to 18.5 g/kg DM in leaf and twig, respectively. The CP content was higher at early stage of the leaf emergence, while the reverse was true for NDF and ADFcontent, and was higher in the leaf than the twig fraction. The IVDMD was higher (P<0.05) in S1 (554 g/kg DM) than S2 (522 g/kg DM) and S3 (459 g/kg DM). The quality of P.thonningii in the studied communities, therefore, makes it an appropriate choice for its inclusion in agro-forestry systems and the tree can contribute to livestock production through provision of feed. Therefore, for efficient utilization of the tree an extension work needs to be strengthened to create awareness in the planting of the tree.