Background: We undertook ethnobotanical and ecological studies on fodder plants grazed by cattle across Benin national area. The study aims to ascertain the top priority fodder plants in order to catalogue the indigenous knowledge regarding their use.
Methods: Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and covered 690 breeders and 40 days of pasture walk. These were analysed using similarity index of Jaccard (IS), relative frequency citation (RFC) and fodder value during pasture walk (FVPW).
Results: We documented a total of 257 fodder plant species, of which 116 recorded during ethnobotanical investigations and 195 during pasture walk. These species belong to 181 genera and 54 families. Both methods shared 52 species. Leaves (58%) and leafy stem (28%) were the most grazed parts of plant. The most common species used as fodder included Andropogon gayanus, Panicum maximum, Pterocarpus erinaceus and Flueggea virosa. The top species with a highest FVPW were Panicum maximum and Pterocarpus erinaceus. A total of 16 species were considered as top fodder plants in Benin.
Conclusions: The wide diversity of plants reported indicates that there is a number of promising fodder species in the flora of Benin. The insight gained in this study relating to bovine feeds could guide in the selection and introduction of feed innovations that could improve livestock production.
Keywords: Benin; Cattle fodder species; Indigenous knowledge; Pasture walk; Top priority.