Livestock Research for Rural Development 25 (3) 2013 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Millettia ferruginea: An endemic legume tree as forage for ruminants in southern and northwestern Ethiopia

Berhanu Alemu, Getachew Animut* and Adugna Tolera**

Department of Animal Science, Debre Markos University,
PO Box 269, Debre Markos, Ethiopia,
berhanualemu@gmail.com
* School of Animal and Range Sciences, Haramaya University, P.O. Box 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
** School of Animal and Range Science, Hawassa University, P.O. Box 5, Hawassa, Ethiopia

Abstract

A survey was conducted in two regional states of Ethiopia, the Amhara National Regional State (ANRS) and the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS), to generate information about the cultivation and utilisation of Millettia ferruginea (Hochst) Baker, including use of the plant as livestock feed. Two districts from each Regional State, 4 peasant associations (PAs) from each district and 10 households from each PA were purposively selected based on availability and recognition in the area of M. ferruginea. Data were collected using questionnaire.

The period from February to May was reported as critical feed shortage seasons and SNNPRS respondents noted M. ferruginea as a feed resource was used to balance deficits during times of feed shortage. All respondents from SNNPRS and about 41% from ANRS used M. ferruginea as livestock feed. Some respondents from ANRS were however, unaware of the use of M. ferruginea as animal feed. Leaves, flowers and twigs of M. ferruginea were mentioned as edible parts of the plant by cattle, sheep and goats. Feeding M. ferruginea in mixture with other feedstuffs is a common practice in SNNPRS, while the sole M. ferruginea is fed in ANRS. All respondents from SNNPRS had a positive impression on the feeding value of M. ferruginea and indicated improved growth and milk output, no abortion, health problem and deaths of animals was observed due to M. ferruginea feeding. Conversely, the level of understanding of the feeding value of M. ferruginea in ANRS appeared to be low. Other uses of M. ferruginea noted by respondents include use for fishing, firewood, bee foraging, local construction materials and to make household utensils, to improve soil fertility, to provide shade to companion crops, as source of immediate cash income and as pesticide. These and other unmentioned good biological attributes of M. ferruginea therefore, makes it an appropriate choice for its inclusion in agroforestry systems and the tree can contribute to livestock production through provision of feed. 

Key words: endemic, feed, survey


Introduction

The livestock sector in Ethiopia contributes 12 and 45% of the total and agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), respectively, and provides livelihood for 65% of the population. Of the total household cash income from crop and livestock, livestock account for 37- 87% in different parts of the country (Ayele et al 2003; IGAD 2010).

As an integral component of the overall farming system, livestock serve as a source of draught power for crop production, supply farm families with milk, meat, manure, and serve as source of cash income (Azage et al 2010). Livestock also serve as a means of transport, enhance crop production and minimize risk during times of crop failure in addition to playing significant role in the social and cultural values of the society (Wint and Robinson 2007).

The crop-livestock systems in the Ethiopian highlands are under stress because of shrinking cultivated areas per household, land degradation and reduced pasture land (Funte et al 2010). This has lead to reduction in grazing areas and consequently to shortage of feed to livestock. Natural pasture and crop residues are the dominant ruminant feed resources in Ethiopia. These feed resources are characterized by their inherent nutritional deficiencies, and are generally low in nitrogen, energy, vitamins and minerals (Solomon 2001). These nutrient deficiencies affect microbial growth and fermentation in the rumen, resulting in low feed intake and digestibility, leading to reduced animal productivity. Production of herbaceous and tree forage legumes through integration with food crops to serve as supplemental feeds can be among the potential options to improve nutrient supply to livestock (Solomon 2001).  Cultivation of these forage legumes can also play complementary role to crop production through improving soil fertility.

Browse species, because of their resistance to heat, drought, salinity, alkalinity, grazing and repeated cutting, can serve as good feed resources during the dry season (Fagg and Stewart 1994). Some studies have demonstrated a higher protein content of up to 34%, which unlike in most grass species, does not seem to change with leaf maturity even when dry and fall off to the ground (Leng 1992). One of a potential browse species that can be used as feed for livestock is Millettia ferruginea (Hochst.) Baker locally called “Birbira’’.  M. ferruginea is a large shady tree, which grows up to 35 meter and is endemic to Ethiopia. It is widely distributed in the country and performs well in areas between 1,000 - 2,500 meters above sea level (Legesse 1995; Azene 2007).

M. ferruginea is a multipurpose tree that can be used to supply fodder to ruminants, as bee forage, to improve soil fertility, as firewood, as local construction material, to make tool handles, household utensils, as erosion control, for fencing and as a shade tree in coffee growing areas (Legesse 1995; Azene 2007). It is also used as decorative plant that can be planted along roadsides and in agroforestry systems (Banouzi et al 2008). Furthermore, its pulverized seeds are extensively used as fish bait and inactivating fish by local fishermen (Azene 2007; Banouzi et al 2008; Karunamoorthi et al 2009). It is also used as traditional medicine (Fisseha  et al 2009; Tilahun and Mirutse  2007). However, information on the utilization of M. ferruginea as feed for livestock is not well documented. Therefore, the objective of this study was to generate information about the cultivation and utilisation of M. ferruginea (Hochst.) Baker, the use of the plant as livestock feed and any associated problems encountered when it is fed to ruminants.


Materials and methods

Description of the experimental site  

The survey was conducted in the year 2010 in two regional states of Ethiopia, the Amhara National Regional State (ANRS) and the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS). From each regional state, one zone where Millettia ferruginea is well recognized and sufficiently available was purposively selected through discussion with the Agricultural and Rural Development Bureau livestock and forestry development experts. The selected zone from ANRS was Awi Zone, with a capital city called Injibara which is located at 10o57҆ N and 36o56҆E, and has altitudnal ranges of 1800 - 3100 meters above sea level. The maximum and minimum tempratures are 27░C  and  17░C, respectively. The average annual rain fall is 1750 mm. The area has a mono modal rainfall patern during June to september (AZARDO 2008). The zone selected from SNNPRS was Gedeo zone, which is located at 7o 39N and 37o 91 E latitude and longitude, respectively. It is found at an altitude of 1350 - 3300 meters above sea level. The minimum and maximum tempratures of the zone are 12.6oC and 37oC , respectively. The average annual rain fall ranged from 760 to 1800 mm. The zone has bimodal rainfall pattern, the small rains being from March to May, and the main rains from June to October (GZARDO 2008). 

From each zone, two districts were purposively selected using the same procedure used for the selection of zones from the two regions. The selected districts were Banja and Guangua from Awi zone and Dilla Zuria and Wonago districts from Gedeo zone.  From each district, four peasant associations (PAs) where M. ferruginea is excessively found and used for any economical purposes were selected. Ten households from each PA and a total of 160 households that grow and/or utilize M. ferruginea in some way and possibly as animal feed were purposively selected for the survey. 

Survey methodology and data analysis 

Data collection was performed by interviewing households by trained enumerators. Before the commencement of the actual survey work, preliminary survey was conducted to gather information about the cultivation and utilization of the different parts of M. ferruginea for different purposes including animal feed in single visit interviews using semi-structured questionnaire. Based on the feedback of the pre-test, well-structured questionnaire were prepared. The questionnaire included, among others aspects, ways and purpose of cultivating and utilizing M. ferruginea, the level of understanding about the different uses of M. ferruginea, use of M. ferruginea as animal feed and any difficulty encountered in feeding the plant. Data collected using questionnaires was strengthened by information obtained from key-informants through cross-questioning, making field visit and checking at the time of survey. Secondary data was also collected from Zonal and District Agricultural and Rural Development Offices. Data collected from the survey was analyzed using descriptive statistics with Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 16.0 (SPSS, 2007). 


Results and discussion

Human and livestock population in the survey areas 

Human and livestock populations in the survey areas were higher in the districts of the ANRS than those of SNNPRS (Tables 1 and 2). The differences may be associated, among other things, with variations in land size of the districts, particularly size of land available for grazing. Human and cattle population was particularly higher in Guangua district of ANRS.

Table 1.  Human population of the four surveyed districts

Sex

ANRS

SNNPRS

Banja

Guangua

Wonago

Dilla Zuria

Male

62,304

115,024

51,681

57,234

Female

65,094

115,555

52,328

58,213

Total

127,397

230,579

104,009

115,447

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

Equine population is higher in Banja district as compared to the other districts, which could be due to use of equines especially horses for draft power, either by pairing two horses together or a horse with an ox.

 Table 2. Livestock population of the four surveyed districts (TLU)

Region

Districts

Livestock types

 

Cattle

Sheep

Goats

Equines

Poultry (number)

ANRS

Banja

39,741

7,937

672

17,316

21,796

 

Guangua

175,441

6,214

4,618

6,767

180,000

SNNPRS

Wonago

16,978

1,690

155

1,350

21,790

 

Dilla zuria

20,514

1,389

538

5,396

29,211

TLU (Tropical Livestock Unit) for Sheep and goat, donkey, cattle, and horse and mule with the conversion factor of 0.1, 0.5, 0.7 and 0.8, respectively (ILCA 1990); ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State
Seasonal feed shortage and coping mechanisms  

The respondents from all the four districts reported seasonal shortages in feed supply (Table 3). The critical feed shortage months in all districts of the study areas are February to May, which is the dry season especially in ANRS. During these months, most of the grazing areas becomes bare while availability of crop residues  is reduced.  

Few respondents in the ANRS indicated that feed shortage also occurs during the main rainy and cropping season (June – September) due to restricted movement of livestock as crops occupy most of the available land and make inaccessible to livestock. On the other hand, about 5% of the respondents from SNNPRS indicated that the period from October to January to be the critical feed shortage months, as these are months of the peak dry season (Funte et al 2010).  

Table 3. Critical feed shortage seasons of the year in the four districts (number of respondents)

 

Regions

 

Districts

Months of the year

June-September

October-January

February-May

ANRS

Banja

1

-

39

Guangua

4

-

36

SNNPRS

 

Dilla

-

3

37

Wonago

-

1

39

Total

5

4

151

% respondents

3.1

2.5

94.4

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS  = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 Farmers use different locally available feed resources to tackle the problem of feed shortage during months of inadequate feed supply (Table 4) depending the farming systems (Abebe 2008). The districts in the ANRS are major annual crop growing areas. Hence, crop residues and household wastes such as local brewery by-products coupled with hay, preserved during times of plenty, constitute the major feed resources to fill the gap of feed scarcity seasons. On the other hand, districts in the SNNPRS are high producers of banana and enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw), also known as false banana. As a result, 85% of the interviewees from the SNNPRS indicated that by-products from the two plants along with some indigenous forage trees like M. ferruginea serve as the main feed resources to balance feed supply during times of feed shortage. In general, M. ferruginea is used as a feed resource in SNNPRS and has evolved as one of the major trees of traditional agroforestry systems in Gedeo zone (Tadesse et al 2000). It is found positively intercropped with and provide shade and nutrients to the nearby plants. 

Table 4. Major feed resources used by farmers to fill the gap of feed shortage (number of respondents)

Regions

Districts

Major feed resources utilized

Stem and leaf of  banana and false banana, and indigenous forage trees like Millettia ferruginea

 

Cereal straws and other crop residues, hay, and local brewery by-products

ANRS

Banja

-

 

39

Guangua

-

 

36

SNNPRS

Dilla

35

 

5

Wonago

33

 

7

Total

 

68

 

87

% respondents

 

42.5

 

54.4

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 Propagation methods of Millettia ferruginea 

A majority of the interviewees replied that M. ferruginea is mainly propagated from seed (Table 5). On the other hand, 10% of the respondents from SNNPRS, particularly respondents from Dilla Zuria district, reported that it can also be propagated from lateral root cuts (Figure 1). Growth of the new plant starts at a place where the lateral root has been detached from the main tree. According to the respondents, growth of M. ferruginea from root cuts has the problem of standing up right firmly because of lack of tap/main root system. About 4% of the respondents reported that M. ferruginea can also be propagated from stem cuttings, although this could not be observed in the field during the survey.

Figure 1. New growths of M. ferruginea plant from lateral root cuts (SNNPRS, Gedeo Zone, Dilla Zuria district)


Table 5. Means of propagation of Millettia ferruginea 

 

 

Parameter

Number of respondents

 

 

 Total

 

 

% respondents

ANRS

SNNPRS

Banja

Guangua

Dilla

Wonago

By seeds

38

40

37

31

146

91.3

By seeds and root cuts

-

-

1

7

8

5.0

By seeds and stem cuts

2

-

2

2

6

3.8

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

Flowering and seed setting period of Millettia ferruginea

About two-third of the respondents from both regions reported that M. ferruginea bears flowers between February and April, while the rest replied that the time of bearing flowers to be between November and January (Table 6). As has been noticed during the survey time, under normal circumstances, the plant mostly appears to bear flowers from January to April. However, there are still instances of flowering during other months. This may happen when the branches or twigs of M. ferruginea is cut or pruned prior to the initiation of flowers at its normal physiological flowering period in the year. With regard to the number of months required to set seeds after flowering, majority of the respondents replied that it took more than four months and less than a year. Based on personal observation, the phenomenal of seed setting in M. ferruginea appeared to take more than four months.

Table 6. Season of flowering and the length of time required to set seed of Millettia ferruginea (number of respondents)

Regions

Districts

Season of flowering

 

Time required to set seed after flowering

November – January

February –April

 

< 4 months

4 - 12  months

ANRS

Banja

4

27

 

9

20

Guangua 

10

25

 

11

25

SNNPRS

Dilla

15

26

 

13

25

Wonago

14

25

 

8

21

Total

43

103

 

41

91

% respondents

26.9

64.4

 

25.6

56.9

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

Normally M. ferruginea sheds all its leaves along with the leaf stock within short period and acquire the appearance of a dried plant until the initiation of flowers. On bare twigs and branches new flowers start to emerge, which will then be followed by the emergence of new leaves along with leaf stock. About 95% of the interviewee from the two regions replied that it bears flowers once annually (Table 7). Few individuals responded that it flowers twice a year, although this appeared to be unlikely. This discrepancy might have occurred possibly due to the occurrence of some physiological disturbances to the plant like pruning or cutting, which can lead the plant to flower outside the normal physiological flowering season. According to the majority of interviewees in the four districts, the length of time required for M. ferruginea flowers to stay before senescence is between two weeks to a month. On the other hand, 11.3 % of the respondents replied that about two months and still few others responded that three months to be the length of time required for the flowers to stay before senescence.  

Table 7.  The number of times Millettia ferruginea flowers in a year and the length of time the flowers stay until senescence.

 

Region

 

District

Flower bearing /year

 

Length of time flowers stay until senescence

 

 Once

 

Twice

 

2 weeks to 1 month

2 months

3 months

Did not recognize

ANRS 

Banja

40

-

 

26

3

-

1

Guangua

33

5

 

31

3

1

4

SNNPRS

Dilla

40

-

 

29

10

1

-

Wonago

40

-

 

38

2

-

-

Total

153

5

 

124

18

2

5

% respondents

95.6

3.1

 

77.5

11.3

1.3

3.1

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 Leaf shedding and leaf emergence in Millettia ferruginea 

According to most respondents leaf shedding and leaf emergence of M. ferruginea occur from February to May (Table 8). On the other hand, about 10% of the respondents indicated that leaf shedding and leaf emergence occurs from June to September. Although negligible number of respondents indicated leaf emergence to occur from June to September, about 15 % of the respondents replied that leaf shedding occurs during these months. Normally leaf shedding, flowering and leaf emergence of M. ferruginea are the three physiological events that take place in that order within short period of time, mostly between January and May. According to most respondents, M. ferruginea sheds its leaves once in a year. During leaf shedding, older leafstalks along with the leaves change from deep green to yellowish colour first and dropped in a short while, leaving the plant with only its twigs and branches. This phenomenon gives the plant to have the appearance of a dried tree for a short period up until the emergence of flowers and new leaves (Figure 2). Few days after leaf shedding, flowers start to emerge on the plant followed by the emergence of leafstalks along with small light green leaves. Then the flowers soon change into small pods, which become bigger and harder having seeds enclosed inside. Leaf shedding period can be altered if branches/ twigs of M. ferruginea are pruned or cut prior to leaf shedding (Sun et al 1996; Root et al 2005). Generally, the timing of flushing and shedding of the leaves of many multipurpose trees, as well as the onset of the flowering and the fruiting are attributed to climatic and environmental conditions such as rainfall, atmospheric conditions, subsoil water availability or supply, soil moisture and biotic factors such as root system (Jolly and Running 2004; Badeck et al 2004).

Table 8. Time of leaf emergence and shedding and frequency of shedding leaves of Millettia ferruginea in a year

 

Region

 

District

Months of leaf Shedding

Months of leaf Emergence

Frequency of leaf shedding per year

October January

February – May

June-September

October January

February - May

June-September

Once

Twice

ANRS

Banja

4

25

11

1

34

5

34

6

Guangua

5

28

7

1

18

2

35

5

SNNPRS

 

Dilla

6

34

-

-

39

1

40

-

Wonago

9

31

-

-

33

7

40

-

Total

24

118

18

2

124

15

149

11

% respondents

15.00

73.75

11.25

1.25

77.50

9.38

93.13

6.88

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional Stat


Figure 2.  Millettia ferruginea at its leaf-shedding period (ANRS, Western Gojam Zone, Jabi Tehinan District)

 Advantages of Millettia ferruginea as a companion plant 

About 41 % of the interviewees responded that M. ferruginea grows mixed with both annual and perennial crops (Table 9) without negative effect to the companion crops. This response is in line with the survey report of Legesse (2002) that M. ferruginea grows in association with 13 major agricultural crops and vegetables in Southern Ethiopia. Because of differences in farming systems in the two regions, companion crops that grow with M. ferruginea vary. Farmers from SNNPRS cultivate perennials like false banana, fruit crops and coffee, whereas farmers from ANRS mainly cultivate annual crops. Thus, majority of the households in the SNNPRS responded that M. ferruginea grows mixed with perennials, whereas considerable number of respondents from the ANRS replied that it grows mixed with annual crops.

Table 9. The crops that Millettia ferruginea grows mixed without negative impacts and the advantages it provides to the soil and companion crop

Regions

Districts

Type of companion crops

 

Advantages

Annuals only

Perennials only

Both annuals and perennials

Gives shade only

Gives both shade and soil fertility

ANRS

Banja

18

4

5

 

2

22

Guangua

4

14

16

 

10

23

SNNPRS

 

Dilla

-

7

33

 

3

37

Wonago

-

29

11

 

7

33

Total

22

54

65

 

22

115

% respondents

13.8

33.8

40.6

 

13.8

71.9

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 According to the respondents,  M. ferruginea is grown with companion crops to serve as shade to companion crops, although more than half of the respondents indicated that both provision of shade and improving soil fertility as good attributes of M. ferruginea.  It is extensively used as coffee shade in the coffee growing regions of Ethiopia and accounts for up to 22.3% of the shade to coffee plantations (Demil and Assefa 1991). M. ferruginea is a leguminous plant, which has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. Due to the nitrogen fixing capacity and effective nodulation, it has a good potential for nutrient cycling in agroforestry systems (Legesse 1995). Thus, M. ferruginea contributes to soil fertility and significantly improves plant growth (Tadesse et al 2000). Even the seedlings of this species are capable of producing effective nodulation (Fasil 1993). During the survey work, presence of abundant nodules were observed on the roots of the plant (Figure 3).  In addition to the ability of fixing atmospheric nitrogen, M. ferruginea sheds both its leaves and part of flowers, thus acting as nutrient pump to the soil, which can be used by plants incapable of producing long roots to quest nutrients from the deeper soils. The nutrient pumping activity of M. ferruginea is thus important for crop production.


 

Figure 3. Nodules of M. ferruginea obtained from its lateral roots (Dilla Zuria District)

The use of Millettia ferruginea as animal feed 

All respondents from the SNNPRS and about 41% from ANRS used M. ferruginea as feed for livestock (Table 10), which shows that use of M. ferruginea as livestock feed is common in SNNPRS. In ANRS, M. ferruginea seeds was commonly used for fishing (Azene 2007; Banouzi et al 2008; Karunamoorthi et al 2009). Thus, most people in ANRS do not feed M. ferruginea to animals due to the fear of toxicity from the plant whereas others are entirely unaware of M. ferruginea’s use as animal feed. Among the respondents who reported use of M. ferruginea as animal feed, all respondents from ANRS and 85% from SNNPRS indicated that leaves, flowers and twigs are edible parts of the plant by livestock. In a survey conducted around Wondo Genet, southern Ethiopia, Taddesse et al (2000) noted that use of leaves, flowers and fresh branches as animal feed was reported by100%, 62% and 20% of the respondents, respectively. Legesse (2002) also reported that fresh twigs, leaves and flowers to be harvested and fed to ruminants.

Table 10. The use of Millettia ferruginea as animal feed and the plant parts used for feeding (number of respondents)

 

 

Regions

  

Districts

Have you ever fed M. ferruginea to animals

 

Parts fed to animal

 

Leaves & twigs

Leaves, flowers  & twigs

 

Yes

No

 

ANRS

Banja

9

31

 

-

9

 

Guangua

24

16

 

-

24

 

SNNPRS

 

Dilla

40

-

 

2

38

 

Wonago

40

-

 

10

30

 

Total

113

34

 

12

101

 

% respondents

70.6

21.3

 

7.5

63.1

 

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 

Millettia ferruginea can be an important feed resource especially during feed shortage seasons. Field observation during this study demonstrated that ruminants like, cattle, sheep and goats can effectively utilize the leaves, flowers and twigs of M. ferruginea (Figure 4 and 5). According to Leng (1992), the most important aspect of fodder trees as a source of feed for farm animals is the high protein content, which ranged from 14-29% and sometimes up to 34%. Leaves from Millettia spp. are good sources of crude protein. Leaf samples of Millettia spp. collected from different parts of the country gave an average CP content of 22.2% (CGIAR 2008). Unlike in most grass species it does not seem to change with leaf maturity even when the leaves are dry and falloff. Being perennial plants, fodder trees are not susceptible to sudden climatic changes and continue to produce high quality fodder even during drought years when grasses and other annual forages are dry and long gone (Paudel and Tiwari 1992).

Figure 4. Cattle consuming Millettia ferruginea (ANRS, Jabi Tehinan District (left) and SNNPRS Wonago Districts (right))

 Under suitable conditions, M. ferruginea is a fast growing indigenous tree. Having more coppicing abilities, M. ferruginea is appropriate for high forage biomass production, indicative of being a potential feed resource, and can serve as mulch in cropping systems and to control soil erosion (Poschen 1989; Sibanda 1993).

Figure 5. Animals consuming fallen leaves and flowers under M. ferruginea tree (ANRS, West Gojam, Jabi Tehinan District)

 In the surveyed districts of both regions, M. ferruginea is being fed to cattle, sheep and goats (Table 11). The respondents indicated that M. ferruginea primarily fed to cattle followed by small ruminants. This might be in an effort to satisfy the greater nutrient requirements of oxen used for draft power and lactating animals used for milk production.

Table 11. Ruminant species fed Millettia ferruginea in their order of priority feeding (number of respondents)

Classes of Animals

Regions

 Total respondents

 % respondents

ANRS

SNNPRS

Cattle, sheep and goats

8

56

64

40.0

Cattle, goats and sheep

16

13

29

18.1

Sheep, cattle and goats

-

3

3

1.9

Sheep, goats and cattle

-

4

4

2.5

Goats, cattle and sheep

1

1

2

1.3

Goats, sheep and cattle

-

3

3

1.9

Only cattle

8

-

8

5.0

Total respondents

33

80

113

 

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 March to May are months in which M. ferruginea is dominantly supplemented to livestock in the study areas (Table 12). These months are obviously times of critical feed shortage in the areas. As such, any available feed resources including M. ferruginea is used to fill the deficit in feed balance. On the other hand, 15% and 6.25% of the respondents from SNNPRS indicated that M. ferruginea is fed to the animals during December to February and June to August, respectively. This result also indicated that M. ferruginea is being extensively used as feed in the SNNPRS than the ANRS.  According to the respondents M. ferruginea  is not supplemented to animals during the months September to November in both regions, possibly because of the presence of abundant alternative feed resources in those months. 

Table 12. Common annual calendar of supplementing Millettia ferruginea to animals

 Months

Region

Total respondent

% respondents

ANRS

SNNPRS

September - November

-

-

-

-

December - February

-

12

12

7.5

March - May

33

63

96

60.0

June -August

-

5

5

3.1

Total respondents

33

80

113

-

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 Apart from 15% of the respondents in SNNPRS, the rest respondents offer M. ferruginea at regular interval of every one, two and three days (Table 13). Most respondents in the SNNPRS offer M. ferruginea every three days followed by a daily offer. In the ANRS, about 94% of respondents that practice feeding M. ferruginea offer the plant to animal not at a regular interval, which might indicate the less emphasis and/or awareness of the use of the plant as a feed resource in the region.  

Table 13. Frequent of offering Millettia ferruginea to animals (number of respondents)

 Frequency of offer

Region

 Total

% respondents

ANRS

SNNPRS

Every day

-

19

19

11.9

Every other day

-

3

3

1.9

Every three days

2

46

48

30.0

No regular time but as available

31

12

43

26.9

Total respondents

33

80

113

-

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 All respondents in the ANRS that fed M. ferruginea to livestock are unaware of the amount offered to their animals (Table 14). However, few respondents in the SNNPRS indicated offering animals a known amount of M. ferruginea. The respondents indicated that animals consume M. ferruginea either by browsing directly from the field or by cut and carry system of the fresh plant material. However, most of the offer of M. ferruginea to animals in both regions was shown to be by cut and carry system. This is expected as M. ferruginea is a tall tree that cannot be reached by animals to browse. Direct browsing by animals could be possible either at early stage of plant growth where the height is accessible to animals or under conditions of controlled plant growth by pruning/pollarding for different purposes.  

Table 14. Amount of Millettia ferruginea supplied per animal per day and ways of presentation

Region

Amount supplied/day

 

Ways of presentation

About 4 kg

Not weighed

Browsing from  field

Cut and offer fresh

ANRS

-

33

 

7

26

SNNPRS

4

76

 

3

77

Total respondents

4

109

 

10

103

% respondents

2.5

68.13

 

6.25

64.38

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 About half of the respondents in the SNNPRS feed M. ferruginea as a sole diet and the other 50% offer it in mixture with other feedstuffs (Table 15). On the other hand, the entire respondents in the ANRS indicated that M. ferruginea is offered to the animals alone. Among those in SNNPRS that replied of offering M. ferruginea in mixture with other feeds, a quarter of them indicated of feeding it  with grass hay, while the rest responded of feeding it in mixture with leaves and stems of banana and enset to improve the feeding value.  

 Table 15. Ways of feeding Millettia ferruginea and type of feeds offered in mixture with Millettia ferruginea

Regions

Ways of feeding

 

Feeds offered in mixture

Sole

Mixed with Other feeds

False banana & banana leaf and stems

Grass hay

ANRS

33

-

 

-

-

SNNPRS

39

41

 

30

11

Total respondents

72

41

 

30

11

% respondents

45

25.6

 

18.8

6.9

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 All respondents from SNNPRS had a positive impression on the feeding value of M. ferruginea. They indicated that M. ferruginea improves growth rate and milk output (Table 16),  playing a positive role in feeding of growing, fattening and lactating animals. Conversely, the level of understanding of the feeding value of M. ferruginea in ANRS appeared to be low. About 68% of the respondents pointed out lack of observation on changes in animal performance due to the feeding of the plant and close to 7% of the respondents indicated M. ferruginea to have only rumen fill effect. Generally, the level of understanding of respondents about the feeding value of M. ferruginea in the ANRS appeared to be low.  

Table 16. Effect of feeding Millettia ferruginea on observable animal performance (number of respondents)

  

Region

Changes observed by respondents

Growth and fattening

Increase body weight and milk yield

Do not visualizethe changes

Fills the stomach simply

ANRS

5

3

21

2

SNNPRS

40

37

-

-

Total respondents

45

40

21

2

% respondents

28.13

25.00

13.13

1.25

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 Observed health problems in animals due to consuming Millettia ferruginea

The main limitation to effective utilisation of fodder legumes as feed for ruminants is the high content of tannins and other anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, cyanogens, mimosine, and coumarins that limit nutrient utilisation (Makkar 1993; Leng 1997). These compounds are also known to have detrimental effects, which may range from reduced animal performance to neurological effects and mortality (D’Mello 1992; James et al 2005). According to respondents of both regions health and/or production problems associated with the feeding of M. ferruginea appeared to be non-existent. All respondents in SNNPRS indicated no abortion and other health problem and deaths of animals due to M. ferruginea feeding (Table 17). Although respondents in ANRS indicated no death cases, more than 60% of the respondents are unaware of the occurrence of abortion and health problems with the feeding of M. ferruginea.

Table 17. Observed abortion, health problems and deaths due to feeding of Millettia ferruginea to animals (number of respondents)

 

Regions

Occurrence of Abortion

Occurrence of health problems

Occurrence of deaths

Yes

No

Unrecognized

No

Unaware of it

No

Unaware of it

ANRS

-

8

22

12

18

33

-

SNNPRS

-

80

-

80

-

80

-

Total respondents

-

88

22

92

18

113

-

% respondents

-

55.0

13.8

57.5

11.3

70.6

-

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 Other uses of Millettia ferruginea other than its use as livestock feed

According to respondents of the two regions, M. ferruginea provides different services apart from being a good source of fodder for livestock (Table 18). More than 90% of the respondents indicated that a pulverised seed of this plant is used to intoxicate fish, which make them float over the water surface allowing easy catches. For the preparation of this intoxicating material, ingredients from other plant seeds, leaves and other parts are mixed with the seeds of M. ferruginea to enhance and strengthen the toxicity. The rotenone present in the seeds of such plant species were suggested to be responsible for intoxicating the fish (Ollis et al 1967; Ermias et al 1989). According to Nicholas (2003) rotenone is a natural plant toxin used for centuries by indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia and South America for fish harvesting. Fish are acutely sensitive to rotenone poisoning, quickly absorbing the toxin across the gill surface and dying within hours at concentrations below 1 ppm, although individual species sensitivities vary widely (Nicholas 2003). Lennon et al (1970) in a review summarized the properties of 30 candidate fish toxicants that had been used internationally. Of these, rotenone was suggested as the most suitable substance based on low cost, high toxicity to fish, low toxicity to wildlife and humans, degrades rapidly in the environment, is a natural product, and are easily metabolised by animals receiving sub-lethal doses.

Table 18. Other uses of Millettia ferruginea apart from animal feed (number of respondents)

Parameters

Region

Total respondents

% respondents

ANRS

SNNPRS

Fish intoxication

66

80

146

91.3

Fire wood

49

80

129

80.6

Bee foraging

49

80

129

80.6

Construction

25

80

105

65.6

Soil fertility

25

80

105

65.6

Shade for crops

25

80

105

65.6

Household utensils / hand tools

25

80

105

65.6

Cash income

25

80

105

65.6

Leech and chigger killing

18

-

18

11.3

ANRS = Amhara National Regional State, SNNPRS = Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

Because of its unique quality of burning without requiring a prolonged drying period, M. ferruginea is a good firewood and can be used as a source of cash income from the sale of the wood. The pods of this plant are good sources of fuel, and the energy liberated when the pods are  burnt might be comparable to that obtained from the wood itself. The wood from the plant can also be used for construction and manufacturing of household utensils and hand tools. A significant proportion of respondents indicated that the flowers of M. ferruginea serve as good sources of nectar for honeybees. Many respondents have also highlighted the importance of the plant in providing  shade for shade loving crops and in improving soil fertility.

Some of the respondents in ANRS have also mentioned the importance of M. ferruginea for control of pests such as chigger, leech and insect pests of crops. The seed of M.  ferruginea was shown to be effective in killing maize weevil (Sitophilus zeamais), which is a serious pest of crops in the field (Zewdu 2010) and stored grain in Africa (Tipping et al 1987; Bekele 2002).  To date, over 25 flavonoids, 50 isoflavonoids, 12 chalcones and miscellaneous compounds have been reported from the Millettia spp. (Azene 1988). The pesticidal effect of the plant may be mainly attributed to its rotenone content and rotenone is one of the dominant compounds found in the seed and stem bark of M. ferruginea (Azene 1988).

Although not described by respondents, the seed of M. ferruginea constitutes about 48.5% oil from the dry matter of the seed that can be used for biodiesel production, which may help to reduce the amount of currency expenditure for the imported petroleum and address environmental problems (Berhanu and Amare 2012). If the oil is extracted from the seed, the by-product or the seed cake can also be a potential feed resource to livestock. On the other hand, M. ferruginea can serve as ornamental tree, since the purple flowers and the long pods are attractive to the eye. Generally, these and other unmentioned good biological attributes of M. ferruginea makes it an appropriate choice for the inclusion of the tree in agroforestry systems. 


Conclusion


Acknowledgements

The first Author would like to acknowledge Debre Markos University and Ministry of Education for financial support, and Haramaya University for allowing access to necessary facilities. Agricultural Bureau Experts from the two regional states, and the zonal and district office experts are gratefully acknowledged for providing information and facilitating the interview. The development agents and farmers who participated in the interview are highly acknowledged.


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Received 14 October 2012; Accepted 7 February 2013; Published 1 March 2013

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