Forage Tree Legumes as Protein Supplements for Ruminants

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					Project R5689                                                                Semi-Arid (Crop/Livestock) Production System

           Forage Tree Legumes as Protein Supplements
                                        for Ruminants

The leaves of tree legumes such              influence the choice of legume by the                 agent, identified as a saponin, which
as Gliricidia sepium or Leucaena             smallholder.                                          was capable of suppressing the
leucocephala show considerable                                                                     activity of ciliate protozoa in the rumen.
promise as forage supplements for            Research highlights                                   Foliage from six legume species
feeding to ruminants, especially in          Novel nutritive value assessment                      showed similar suppressive capability.
the dry season. Forage tree                  methods, contributing to the
legumes provide a cheap and                  development of feeding strategies                     Uptake
readily available source of high             involving the supplementation of poor                 This project has shown that G. sepium
quality protein and can improve              quality feeds for ruminants in tropical               can be used as an alternative legume
animal productivity and hence the            Africa, were identified.                              forage supplement in areas of Africa
sustainable livelihoods of                                                                         where L. leucocephala is heavily
resource-poor smallholder farmers            Feeding moderate levels (20–30%) of                   attacked by the insect pest,
in developing countries.                     Gliricidia sepium or Leucaena                         Heteropsylla cubana. Feeding leaves
                                             leucocephala forage supplements                       of leguminous trees, containing anti-
Background                                   significantly improved dry matter intake              protozoal agents to suppress the
Leguminous trees are a potential             and performance of cross-bred steers                  activity of rumen ciliate protozoa in
source of relatively high quality fodder     fed low quality diets of maize stover in              ruminants, could remove one of the
readily available to many smallholders.      Kenya and Zimbabwe. Liveweight                        major limitations to protein nutrition in
However, farmers are often unaware of        gains were approximately 700 g/day                    ruminants. The benefits to livestock
appropriate feeding strategies for           on supplemented diets compared to                     nutrition of using these legumes in
combining tree fodders with poorer           80 g/day when no supplement was                       animal feeding – as a rumen
quality feeds to improve animal              offered. The response was not affected                manipulating agent – are far in excess
production. Researchers in the field         by legume species. Palatability                       of their nutrient content. Also, the
are hampered by a lack of techniques         problems associated with Gliricidia                   benefit of removing protozoa under
to assess the nutritive value of fodders     forage were overcome by wilting and a                 Ethiopian livestock production
to support research programmes               short period of adaptation.                           conditions, demonstrated by the
aimed at developing appropriate                                                                    project, led to the construction of the
feeding strategies.                          Napier hay (Pennisetum perpureum)                     ‘Wallace Isolation Unit’ to house sheep
                                             supplements given to sheep in                         which have had their protozoa
Legume forages containing protein            Zimbabwe receiving poor quality                       removed.
which cannot be degraded in the              natural pasture
rumen are able to supply ruminant            (veld) hay
livestock with amino acids at the small      increased total
intestine. Increasing the dietary level of   feed intake and
such forages increases total nutrient        in vivo
intake and improves overall animal           digestibility of the
productivity. Factors such as yield,         total diet without
tolerance of soil type and cutting           reducing the
                                             intake of the veld
                                             hay. Inclusion of
                                             urea in the diet
Rowett Research Institute                    did not alter the
Aberdeen, UK                                 pattern of intake.
E.R. Ørskov, R.J.Wallace                     In trials in
                                             Ethiopia, the
International Livestock Research             subtropical
Institute (ILRI)                             forage legume,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia                        Sesbania
B. Teferedegne                               sesban, was
                                             found to contain
                                                                  Inclusion of urea in the diet did not increase the stimulating effect of Napier
Project completed in1995                     an anti-protozoan forage supplementation on veld hay intake.
                                                                                                                  Selected project publications
                                                                                                                  • Abdulrazak, S.A., Muinga, R.W.,
                                                                                                                  Thorpe, W. and Ørskov, E.R. (1996)
                                                                                                                  The effects of supplementation with
                                                                                                                  Gliricidia sepium or Leucaena
                                                                                                                  leucocephala on forage intake,
                                                                                                                  digestion and liveweight gains of Bos
                                                                                                                  taurus x Bos indicus steers offered
                                                                                                                  Napier grass. Animal Science, 63: 381–

                                                                                                                  • Manyuchi, B., De B. Hovell, F.D.,
                                                                                                                  Ndlovu, L.R., Topps, J.H. and Tigere,
                                                                                                                  A. (1996) Feeding Napier hay as a
                                                                                                                  supplement to sheep given poor
                                                                                                                  quality natural pasture hay: effects of
    The new Wallace isolation unit in Ethiopia to house sheep fed Sesbania sesban to                              Napier hay supplement and inclusion
    suppress rumen protozoa.                                                                                      of urea in the basal diet on intake and
                                                                                                                  digestibility. Animal Feed Science and
Linkages                                             study with the Rowett Research                               Technology, 63: 123–135.
More research under practical on-farm                Institute and Agriculture Canada on the
feeding conditions would help to                     potential of another forage legume,                          • Abdulrazak, S.A., Muinga, R.W.,
substantiate results and evaluate other              Enterolobium cyclocarpum, as a                               Thorpe, W. and Ørskov, E.R. (1997)
                                                                                                                  Supplementation with Gliricidia sepium
tree legumes as potential ruminant                   rumen-manipulating agent, identified
                                                                                                                  and Leucaena leucocephala on
feeds. Since animal performance                      as containing anti-protozoal agents                          voluntary food intake, digestibility,
increased proportionately, further                   and without the adaptive problem of S.                       rumen fermentation and live weight of
experiments are required to quantify                 sesban.                                                      crossbred steers offered Zea mays
the response to higher levels of                                                                                  stover. Livestock Production Science,
legume supplements and responses to                  Relevance to sustainable                                     49: 53–62.
energy rich supplements for Napier/                  livelihoods
legume diets.                                        Tree legumes can improve animal                              • Teferedegne, B., McIntosh, F.,
                                                                                                                  Osuji, P.O., Odenyo, A., Wallace, R.J.
                                                     productivity and hence the sustainable
                                                                                                                  and Newbold, C.J. (1999) Influence of
Follow-up long-term studies on the                   livelihoods of resource-poor                                 foliage from different accessions of the
anti-protozoal agent found in the                    smallholder farmers in developing                            subtropical tree, Sesbania sesban, on
subtropical legume, S. sesban,                       countries by providing a cheap and                           ruminal protozoa in Ethiopian and
showed that it was unsuitable in                     readily available source of high quality                     Scottish sheep. Animal Feed Science
manipulating the rumen because of an                 protein forage for livestock, especially                     and Technology, 78: 11–20.
adaptive effect in the microbial                     in the dry season. Protein utilisation
population.                                          can be improved by the ability of                            • Teferedegne, B. (1999) New
                                                                                                                  Perspectives on the use of Tropical
                                                     identified forage legumes to enhance
                                                                                                                  Plants to Improve Ruminant Nutrition.
Recent studies from ILRI, Ethiopia, in               rumen function.                                              PhD Thesis. Rowett Research
collaboration with the Rowett                                                                                     Institute, Aberdeen UK and ILRI, Addis
Research Institute, on the use of                                                                                 Abbaba, Ethiopia. Also to be published
tropical plants to improve ruminant                                                                               in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.
nutrition, have been published. ILRI is
                                                                                                                  For further information on the Programme contact:
likely to be involved in a collaborative                                                                                                   The Programme Manager
                                                                                                                                    Livestock Production Programme
                                                                                                                                                     NR International
                                                                                                                                       Park House, Bradbourne Lane
                                                                                                                                          Aylesford, Kent ME20 6SN
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                                                      This Project Summary is an output from the Livestock Production Programme funded by
                                                      the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) for the benefit of
                                                      developing countries. The views expressed are not necessarily those of DFID.