Development of sheep and goat production system based on the use of salt-tolerant plants and marginal resources in the United Arab Emirates

S. A. Al-Shorepy, G. A. Alhadrami, A. I. El Awad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), several programs and centers have been established to study and evaluate halophytic and salt-tolerant plant communities. A large number of halophytic species, acquired from various parts of the world, have been evaluated and field-tested under salt and seawater irrigation regimes at UAE University and International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA). Among these species, Sporobolus virginicus and Distichlis spicata were thoroughly evaluated and showed consistent yield potential and forage quality under high levels of salinity. Currently, these grasses are grown as irrigated crops on a large scale and mechanically handled and harvested at UAE University and ICBA. Several experiments were carried out at the UAE University on sheep and goats to investigate the effect of feeding Sporobolus and Distichlis grasses as well as a mixture of Atriplex shrubs on growth performance and carcass composition. In this paper, results of five experiments aimed to evaluate the performance of sheep and goats fed these plants were presented. Animals were allocated to several dietary treatment groups to have either Sporobolus and Distichlis grass hay or a mixture of Atriplex shrubs as a source of forage in a replacement series with the conventional forage Rhodes grass commonly used in the region. Two breeds of sheep (local and Awassi breeds) and one local breed of goats were used. The result data indicated that the productive performance or carcass characteristics of sheep were not influenced by the inclusion of different levels of Sporobolus grass hay in the diets. Similarly, the inclusion of Distichlis grass hay as the only source of forage up to 100% in the diet did not have any adverse effect on growth performance or carcass composition of growing local goat kids. These studies also showed that, incorporating Atriplex spp. shrubs and Sporobolus grass hay into mixed diets enhanced growth performance of local goats. It can be concluded that when managed properly, S. virginicus and D. spicata, have the economic and environmental potential to be used in an integrated forage-sheep and goats system particularly in marginal environments with low quality soil and water resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalSmall Ruminant Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Atriplex spp.
  • Distichlis spicata
  • Goats
  • Salt-tolerant plants
  • Sheep
  • Sporobolus virginicus
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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