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The study was conducted in the mixed crop-livestock system of Debre Berhan milkshed in central highlands of Ethiopia to assess and determine agricultural water productivity related to livestock production and explore their determinants. The need to meet the growing demand for livestock products and services coupled with multiple uses of water is expected to intensify pressure on finite freshwater. Knowing the level of freshwater consumption for livestock production is relevant to devise strategies for efficient water use and allocation in the system. A multistage sampling procedure was followed to select 159 farmers from different wealth status (50 in the poor, 58 in the medium and 51 in the better-off) grouped mainly based on land and livestock ownership. Livestock products and services, and feed dry matter obtained at farm level over the year were used as numerators to estimate livestock water productivity (LWP) and feed water productivity (FWP), respectively. The volume of water evapotranspired for feed production was used as a common denominator for both LWP and FWP. Cultivated and grazing lands (GL) were major sources of feed where water use of livestock was fundamentally linked. The annual food-feed crops grown that constituted staple human food and major livestock feed were barley, wheat, faba bean and field pea. The livestock density on grazing land was almost twice that of cultivated cropland which showed the importance of crop byproducts for livestock feeding. The contribution of crop residues to total feed supply sourced on-farm and purchased combined was 55%. However, the annual feed dry matter (DM), metabolizable energy (ME) and digestible crude protein (DCP) supplies and requirements of livestock did not match at present. The livestock feed insufficiency unanimously affects farmers irrespective of wealth status, though wealthier suffered more. Overall, about 51, 19 and 38% of annual feed deficit in DM, ME and DCP were observed, respectively. On average 0.60 kg m-3 (ranging from 0.59 to 0.61 kg m-3) of FWP was obtained. However, FWP of crop residues (CR) and GL were contrastingly different across wealth groups, where better-off gained more on CR and vice versa on GL. Moreover, much of the water depleted was on GL, irrespective of wealth status. The inflow and outflow dynamics of cattle and equines over the year was not frequent and in large numbers either, rather the conceivable outputs obtained from cattle were milk, traction services and manure, and that of equines was transportation. In case of sheep the dynamics were recurrent; correspondingly the most plausible beneficial output was due to offtake. Generally low offtake rates and high death rates contributed to reduced annual benefit from livestock and impacted the LWP. Livestock water productivity was significantly different across wealth groups. On average 0.23 USD m-3 (ranging from 0.16 to 0.23 USD m-3 following wealth gradient) of LWP was attained. Access to credit and training positively influenced both FWP and LWP, while other factors explain FWP and LWP differently. Evaluation of native grasses and legumes, and improved forages for biomass productivity, nutritive value and water use; improving feeding value of CR with treatment and supplementation; maintenance of healthy productive animals; strengthen enabling institutions that support farmers such as cooperatives, credit, extension and training services and application of soil and water conservation; and proper grazing management are expected to improve water use for livestock production.


PhD Thesis


dry matter, evapotranspiration, feed balance