Livestock Research for Rural Development 17 (9) 2005 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Introduction and evaluation of Moringa oleifera for biomass production and as feed for goats in the Mekong Delta

Luu Huu Manh, Nguyen Nhut Xuan Dung and Tran Phung Ngoi*

Department of Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Agriculture, Cantho University
Cantho, Vietnam
lhmanh@ctu.edu.vn;   nnxdung@ctu.edu.vn
*
Song Hau Farm, Cantho city

Abstract

Experiments were conducted to study:  (i) the growth and biomass production of Moringa oleifera (Moringaceae) planted at different spaces (40*20; 40*30; 40*20 cm); and (ii) using Moringa as sole feed for goats compared with Leucaena leucocephala.

The different spacings did not affect plant height and the biomass yield of Moringa. The estimated biomass yield of was 8.6, 11.1 and 7.6 tonnes/ha (first cutting); 7.6,  7.9 and 6.3 tonnes/ha (second cutting) and 6.3,  6.3 and 4.9 (third cutting) for spacings of  40*20; 40*30; 40*40, respectively.

Four local male goats with a average live weight of 14 kg were used in a 4*4 Latin Square arrangement to study the effect of feeding method (hanging or putting in the trough) on eating, ruminating rate and digestibility of Moringa compared with Leucaena as sole feeds.

Time for eating and ruminating, and the apparent digestibility of dry matter, protein, NDF, ADF and nitrogen retention in goats fed Moringa were not different from those fed Leucaena.

The results suggest that Moringa can develop on the sulfate acid soil but the young plant did not adapt well to water logging condition, in contrast to the mature plants. It is suggested that the plants could be harvested 7 times/year, when the annual fresh biomass yield would be from 43 to 52 tonnes/ha. Moringa can be used as a sole feed for goats.

Key words: Biomass yield, digestibility, eating behaviour,  goats, Moringa


Introduction

Moringa oleifera Lamarck,   originally from India, is widely distributed in many tropical regions; in the Pacific region (Aregheore 2002), in West Africa (Freiberger et al 1998; Lockett et al 2000), as well as Central America and the Caribbean (Ramachandran et al 1980; Foidl et al 1999).

It is a multi-purpose plant cultivated for medicinal applications and used as food and feed. Seeds of Moringa were extracted for oil and curry powder (Golh 1998) and have been used for cleaning water. In some places in Vietnam, Moringa leaves are used for food (Pham Hoang Ho 1970). Agronomic trials with Moringa (Manh et al 2003) show that the plant can grow well in hilly areas, in weathered soils of low fertility  in Tinh Bien district, An Giang province. However, information about growth of Moringa in the acid soil regions of the Mekong Delta is almost absent.

Moringa foliage is known as a rich protein source, low anti-nutritional factors (Makka and Becker 1996). For goat production, the use of grass  as the only component of diet is not appropriate because grasses are low in protein. Moringa foliages is therefore a potential inexpensive protein source (Sarwatt 2004). The leaves of Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) are known to be highly nutritious,  and are readily consumed by animals (Shelton et al 1994; Nguyen Thi Hong Nhan 1998; Yami et al 2000).

The aim of the present study was firstly to measure some agronomic characteristics of Moringa  for biomass production and secondly to evaluate its use as a basal diet for goat production. A comparison between methods of feeding Moringa and Leucaena (by hanging the branches or putting them in the feed trough) was included in the study in view of the findings by Theng Kouch et al (2003) that hanging the branches of forage shrubs supported higher feed intakes and digestibility as compared with putting it in the feed trough.
 

Materials and methods

Agronomic study
Study sites

The trial was conducted in Song Hau State farm, Cantho City. It is a lowland area at an attitude of 2 m above mean sea level. The climate is tropical monsoon, with an annual rainfall of 1800-200mm, which is concentrated in the months of May to November. The study site is a true representative of acidic soils, with low pH (4.5-5.0 in the top soil) and low organic matter. Humidity is high and varies from 70 to 85% with a temperature range of between 28 and 32oC.

Procedure

Plants of Moringa were raised from seedlings. The seeds were prepared in a nursery and transplanted 3 weeks. Twenty tonnes/ha of cattle manure were applied in pits one week before planting. The seedlings were allocated to three space arrangements of 20*40, 30*40 and 40*40cm, according to a completely randomized  block design with four replicates.

Plant height was recorded weekly on 10 randomly selected plants in each treatment/replicate. The biomass production was determined in an area of 20*20 m in each treatment/replicate. Samples were collected from the top of the branch to the end of the soft stem part, considered as potential feed. Samples of the freshly harvested biomass were dried at 60oC, ground through a 1mm screen and stored at 4oC prior to analysis.

Evaluation of Moringa as feed for goats

Four growing goats (14 kg live weight) were used to compare two factors in a 2*2 factorial arrangement within a 4*4 Latin Square design, with periods each of 14 days (Table 1). The factors were: source of foliage (Photo 1) and method of feeding (Photo 2). Sources of foliage consisted of Moringa (M) and Leucaena leucocephala (L). Feeding methods were hanging the branch (H) and putting only the leaves in the feed trough (T). Individual treatments were:

Table 1. Layout of  digestibility trial

Period\Goat

1

2

3

4

1

M-H

L-T

M-T

L-H

2

L-T

L-H

M-H

M-T

3

M-T

M-H

L-H

L-T

4

L-H

M-T

L-T

M-H

M-H: Moringa hanging branch; M-T: Moringa in feed trough; L-H: Leucaena hanging branch; L-T: Leucaena in feed trough


Photo 1: The two foliages (Moringa on the left; Leucaena pn the right)


Photo 2: The two methods of feeding the foliage (on the left by hanging from the top rail of the pen
and on the right loose inside the feed trough)

The foliages / leaves were given as the sole feed. The time from days 1 to 8 was for adaptation. From 9 to 13 days, feed intake was recorded and faeces and urine collected to determine nutrient digestibility and N retention. On day 14 observations were made over 24 hours of eating and ruminating times. There was a rest period of 5 days between experimental periods, when the goats were fed mixed grasses such as water spinach, Briachiaria mutica, Sacciolepis myuros and Panicum maximum

Eating rate and ruminating rate were calculated as follows:

Chemical analysis

Analysis of feed samples was performed in duplicate following the methods of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC 1990) . The procedures were: dry matter (DM) by drying air-dry samples at 105oC in an oven overnight; crude protein (CP = N*6.25) by the Kjeldahl method; ash by combustion for 3 h at 550oC; ether extract (EE)  by extracting with anhydrous ether using a Soxhlet apparatus; acid detergent fibre (ADF) according to Van Soest et al (1981) and AOAC (1984); and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) according to Van Soest et al (1991) as modified by Chai and Udén (1998).

Statistical analysis
Agronomy trial

The effect of plant spacing on the height and biomass yield was analysed using the GLM option of the ANOVA sofware in Minitab version 13.2 (Ryan 2000). The model was:

Yijk = µ +Si +Bj + Hk + (S*H)jk + eijk

where Yijk is the dependent variable, µ is the overall mean; Si is the effect of spacing, i = 1, 2, 3; Bjis the effect of block, j = 1,2,3,4; Hk: effect of harvesting times, k = 1,2,3; (S*H)jk is interaction of space and harvesting time;eij represents random error.

Digestibility trial

The effects of feed sources and feeding method on nutrient digestibility and nitrogen retention were analysed using the GLM option of the ANOVA sofware in Minitab version 13.2 (Ryan 2000). The model was:

Yijk = µ + Pi +Sj + Fk + (S*F)jk +Al + eijkl

where Yijk is the dependent variable, µ is the overall mean; Pi is the effect of period, i = 1, 2, 3, 4; Sj is the effect of feed source, j = 1, 2;Fk is the effect of feeding method, k=1,2 ; S*F is interaction of feed and feeding method; Al: effect of animal, l= 1,2,3,4; eijkl represents random error.

When there was an overall effect of treatments at P < 0.05, differences between means were compared by Tukey's least significant difference.

Results and discussion

Composition and yield of Moringa

The composition of the plants was not affected by plant spacing (Table 2). DM was low (16-19%) due to harvesting during the rainy season. The crude protein content was high and similar to that reported by Sarwatt (2004).  Ether extract was very high indicating a rich source of carotene and pigments (Foidl et al 2001).

Table 2. Effect of plant spacing on the composition of Moringa  (% in DM, except for DM which is on fresh basis)

 

Space, cm

40*20

40*30

40*40

DM

18.90

17.66

16.80

Ash

8.57

7.91

8.38

OM

91.43

92.09

91.62

CP

25.54

26.39

25.92

NDF

21.50

24.09

22.83

ADF

17.06

18.26

17.78

EE

10.22

11.04

11.47

The fresh biomass yield of Moringa was not affected (P=0.72) by plant spacing  (Table 3). It is difficult to compare the yields at successive harvests as the third harvest was affected by water logging caused by heavy rains.

Table 3. Interaction of successive harvests and plant spacing on the fresh and dry biomass and protein yield (tonnes/ha/harvest) of Moringa

Harvest date

Spacing, cm

Fresh biomass

Dry biomass

Crude protein

70 days

40*20

8.63

1.63

0.523

 

40*30

11.1

2.10

0.405

 

40*40

7.63

1.44

0.386

115 days

40*20

7.60

1.34

0.394

 

40*30

7.91

1.40

0.359

 

40*40

6.25

1.10

0.254

157 days

40*20

6.28

1.05

0.298

 

40*30

6.34

1.06

0.271

 

40*40

4.88

0.82

0.197

P/SEM

 

0.72/2.0

 

 

The rate of growth measured as plant height was not affected by plant spacing but appeared to be linearly related with time after transplanting (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Effect of plant spacing (between plants in a fixed row width of 40cm)
on plant height at 28, 56 and 70 days after transplanting

Intake, digestibility and feeding behavior

There were no significant differences in digestibility of nutrients, nor in N retention, due to feeding method, both for Moringa and for Leucaena (Table 6).

Table 6. Effect of feeding method of Moringa and Leucaena leucocephala on intake, apparent digestibility of nutrients and nitrogen retention of goats

 

 

Moringa

Leucaena leucocephala


SEM


Prob

Hanging (MH)

Trough (MT)

Hanging (LH)

Trough (LT)

DM intake

 

 

kg/day

0.375

0.482

0.548

0.656

0.04

0.98

kg/100 kg BW

2.71

3.49

3.96

4.75

0.29

0.98

Apparent digestibility, %

DM                

78.2

82.6

81.2

80.7

3.20

0.46

OM

76.8

81.6

80.6

80.2

3.29

0.43

CP

55.4

64.4

67.9

65.4

8.47

0.51

NDF

60.2

66.1

48.2

47.5

11.9

0.79

ADF

61.0

69.8

44.7

53.4

12.2

0.99

N balance, g/day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intake

15

17

22

25

 

 

Retention

6.2

9.1

10.7

10.9

 

 

Apparent digestibility coefficients of DM and OM were high for both foliages and were not affected by the method of offering them. This contrasts with the report by Theng Kouch et al (2003)  for jackfruit (Heterophyllus artocarpus), mulberry (Morus alba) and cassava (Manihot esculenta) for which intake and digestibility by goats were increased when the foliage was hung on the side of the cage compared with putting it in the feed trough. The difference may be in the nature of the attachment of the leaves to the petioles and stems as these were easily detached in the case of both Moringa and Leucaena (especially Moringa), the leaves falling to the bottom of the feed trough. It has been shown by several researchers that goats have difficulty in picking up isolated leaves from the feed trough as compared with " plucking"  them from intact branches, resulting in lower DM intakes for the former (Theng Kouch et al 2003;  Toum Keopaseuht et al 2004).

There were no differences between Moringa and Leucaena, nor between feeding methods, in the rates of eating or ruminating by the goats  (Table 7).

Table 7. Effect of feeding method of Moringa and Leucaena leucocephala on eating and ruminating rate of goats

g DM/minute

Hanging (MH)

Trough (MT)

Hanging (LH)

Trough (LT)

SEM

Prob.

Eating rate

1.50

1.71

1.44

1.59

0.17

0.88
Ruminating rate

1.17

1.21

1.02

1.20

0.18

0.70

All the goats readily consumed Leucaena, but Moringa was not immediately accepted when given as the sole feed. . However, after adaptation for two days Moringa was accepted. It may be that the local goats were more selective and conservative than those of an exotic breed, which were observed to consume readily the Moringa even from the first access. There were no health problems during the experimental period on either Moringa or Leucaena,  even though Leuceana is known to be rich in mimosine which has been observed to be toxic when the foliage of this species provided a major proportion of the diet of ruminants (Jones 1979). The short term nature of the trial (only 14 days on any one feed) may have been the reason for the absence of toxicity in the present study.


Conclusions

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Received 30 May 2005; Accepted 10 August 2005; Published 6 September 2005

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