The study was set up to evaluate fodder from six dual-purpose groundnut ( Arachis Hypogaea
L.) cultivars for animal performance and rumen dry matter (DM) degradability characteristics. Thirty-six West African dwarf (WAD) sheep were used to evaluate the utilization of groundnut stover from six improved dual-purpose cultivars (M170-80I; M554-76; M572-80I; RMP-12; UGA-2; UGA-5) as sole diets over 70 d. Rumen DM degradability characteristics were studied using four WAD sheep in a completely randomized design. Dry matter, crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF), acid detergent lignin (ADL) and metabolisable energy (ME) contents were similar while, cultivar RMP-12 recorded the highest (P < 0.05) hemicellulose (64 g/kg DM and cellulose (396 g/kg DM) contents. Organic matter (58.1 to 71.9 g/kg metabolic weight (W0.75
)/d) and NDF (32 to 41 g/kg W0.75
/d) intake were significantly different (P < 0.05). The digestibility of DM (508 to 623 g/kg DM), OM (498 to 626 g/kg DM) and CP (488 to 588 g/kg DM) differed (P < 0.05). Similarly, NDF digestibility (488 to 635 g/kg DM) and ADF digestibility (406 to 572 g/kg DM) were significantly different (P < 0.05). Nitrogen balance (3.0±0.98 g/d) was similar (P > 0.05) among cultivars, whereas available protein ranged (P < 0.05) from 2.5 g d-1 for RMP-12 to 29.0 g d-1 for M170-80I. Liveweight changes (LWC) varied between 6 g/d weight loss by sheep on UGA-2 fodder and 46 g/d in M170-80I. Soluble fraction (
) differed significantly (P < 0.05) ranging between 197 and 351 g/kg DM, while degradable fraction (
) and rate of degradation of
were not significantly different. The 48-h degradation (501 to 596 g/kg DM), potential degradability; PD (584 to 687 g/kg DM) and effective degradability;
(415 to 489 g/kg DM) varied (P < 0.05). Groundnut stover could be fed as sole diets or supplements to WAD sheep, and the cultivars ranked in decreasing order of stover quality as: M170-80I > UGA-5 > M572-80I = UGA-2 > 50 RMP-12 > M554-76. While sole-feeding groundnut has been illustrated to result in improved weight gain in WAD sheep, it might also be economical to use the fodder as a supplement.