Nutritional evaluation of selected fodder trees: Mulberry (Molus alba Lam.), Leucaena (Leucaena luecocephala Lam de Wit.) and Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam.) as dry season protein supplements for grazing animals


Leaves of Mulberry (Morus alba Lam.), Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala Lam de wit.) and Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam.) were evaluated as dry season protein supplements for grazing animals based on chemical composition, in vitro and in sacco nutrient digestibility and a Rabbit feeding trial. All tree fodder forages had similar dry matter (DM) content, but crude protein was higher in Moringa (28.6%) followed by Leucaena (24.5%), Mulberry (24.1%) and Lucerne (18.0%). Ash content was highest in Mulberry followed by Moringa and Lucerne with Leucaena having lowest amounts. Polyphenols ranged from 2.72 to 3.64%, with Leucaena having highest and Mulberry lowest amounts. Dietary fibre were highest in Mulberry and Moringa, but there were no significant differences (P < 0.05) between Leucaena and Lucerne. In vitro gas production and DM disappearances were higher in Moringa followed by Mulberry and Lucerne with Leucaena having lowest amounts. Except for Leucaena, DM disappearances were increased when rumen fluid from dairy cattle steers was used. In sacco DM disappearances were 33.7% for Leucaena, 78.2% for Lucerne, 50.2% for Moringa and 50.7% for Mulberry. In vitro and in sacco crude fibre and neutral detergent fibre disappearances were relatively lower, but reflected DM disappearances. The Rabbit feeding trial showed diets based on Moringa, Leucaena and combined fodder forages to have significantly better performance than Mulberry and grass hay alone. The conclusion was that tested tree fodder forages have potential of being used as dry season protein supplements for grazing animals on traditional smallholder farms.

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The research team would like to acknowledge the University of Zambia in general and the School of Agricultural Sciences in particular, for the chance and support to undertake this research. The involvement of undergraduate students Ms. Sendy Kaonga and Mr. Jeremiah Kabwe in the collection of data is acknowledged and greatly appreciated. Technical personnel in the laboratory are acknowledged for undertaking chemical composition analysis and digestibility assays. Personnel at the field station are acknowledged for feeding and taking care of experimental animals. Funding on this project was through a Technical Cooperation Project (ZAM5028) supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Support from the Agency through purchase of equipment and chemical reagents is highly appreciated. Local farmers are acknowledge for supply of experimental material and their wise council.

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Correspondence to Joseph Simbaya or Abdelfattah Z. M. Salem.

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Simbaya, J., Chibinga, O. & Salem, A.Z.M. Nutritional evaluation of selected fodder trees: Mulberry (Molus alba Lam.), Leucaena (Leucaena luecocephala Lam de Wit.) and Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam.) as dry season protein supplements for grazing animals. Agroforest Syst (2020).

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  • Moringa
  • Leucaena
  • Mulberry fodder trees
  • In vitro gas production
  • DM and NDF degradations
  • Rabbit performance