Moujahed Nizar,1,* Guesmi Hajer 1 and Hessini Kamel 2
This review summarizes the main results of studies related to the fodder potential of some halophytes and salt-tolerant species in Tunisia and highlights the main constraints and opportunities for better valorizing them in ruminant feeding. In Tunisian livestock extensive systems, small ruminant herds, mobility and productivity are severely affected by several devastating factors, such as overgrazing and mismanagement of pasture, in addition to climate changes inducing frequent drought periods and soil salinization. Considering this alarming situation, new strategies and practices are being developed and applied with the aim to promote sustainable management of natural resources and to enhance livestock production. In connection with this, several native or cultivated fodder species such as xerophytes and halophytes could play an important role in the rehabilitation of pasture and the feeding of ruminants in saline lands and/or in arid and semi-arid regions, thereby increasing rural incomes and improving the livelihood of smallholder farmers. The main importance of these plants is their capacity to produce considerable amounts of biomass on saline soils and during drought conditions. The major limitations to be considered when planning halophyte plantation and/or exploitation are
1 Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie, LRAA, 43 Av. Ch. Nicolle, Tunis, Tunisia. 2 Centre de Biotechnologie de Borj Cedria, Hammam Lif, Tunisia. * Corresponding author: email@example.com
high salt (limiting intake and digestibility of the diet) and plant secondary metabolites, moderate energy value, low levels of biomass production and the possibility of inducing mineral imbalances. Most of these feedstuffs are best considered as a supplement rather than forage to be fed as a sole diet. Several strategies to valorize halophytes in ruminant feeding, such as (i) free grazing or cut and carry with supplementation (ii) mixing them with other fodders in shrub mixed diet (iii) using them as alternative feed supplements (iii) and (iv) in alley-cropping to supplement cereal stubble have been reported.