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Citation of this paper

Effects of moringa and bamboo leaves on groundnut hay utilization by West African Dwarf goats

V O Asaolu , S M Odeyinka*, O O Akinbamijo**and F G Sodeinde***

International Trypanotolerance Centre, PMB 14, Banjul, The Gambia,
Department of Animal Production and Health, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
* Department of Animal Science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria
** African Union/Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources, Nairobi, Kenya
*** Department of Animal Production and Health, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria


The intake, nitrogen utilization, and in vivo nutrient digestibility of Moringa (MOR) and bamboo (BAM) leaves in equal combinations respectively with groundnut hay (50MOR:50GNH; 50BAM:50GNH), with a sole groundnut hay diet (100GNH) as the reference diet, were monitored in 18 West African Dwarf (WAD) goats (9 male and 9 female) with a mean body weight of 9.4 ▒0.8 kg, using a randomized complete block design.


No significant (P>0.05) differences were observed in total DM intake values which ranged from  291 to 315 and 316g DM/animal/day, corresponding to 54.6, 59.6 and 59.6 g/kg0.75  for the animals on 100GNH, 50BAM:50GNH and 50MOR:50GNH, respectively. BAM leaf substitution however sinificantly (P<0.05) decreased DM digestibility while a marginal increase was observed with MOR substitution. Both substitutions were observed to significantly (P<0.05) increase CP intake from 39.3 to 44.4 and 56.8 g/d for BAM and MOR substitutions, respectively. MOR substitution significantly (P<0.05) increased diet CP digestibility from 49.9 to 60.2% while BAM substitution marginally increased it to 51.7%. NDF intake was significantly decreased from 131 to 114g/d with MOR leaf substitution while BAM substitution significantly (P<0.05) increased it to 178g/d. A significant (P<0.05) increase in ADF intake was observed with BAM substitution while MOR substitution led to a marginal decrease. A significant (P<0.05) increase in total digestible nutrients was significantly increased from 50.4% to 52.2% with MOR leaf substitution of GNH but a significant (P<0.05) decrease to 46.8% was observed with BAM leaf substitution. All the animals had a positive nitrogen balance with values ranging from 0.71 to 1.50 g/d, which did not differ significantly. Nitrogen retention values as percentages of nitrogen intakes were however significantly (P<0.05) higher for 50MOR:50GNH and 50BAM:50GNH relative to 100GNH. 


The results of this study have shown that GNH as a sole diet can meet the maintenance requirements of WAD goats for nitrogen. However, feeding it along with MOR leaves in the same ratio will significantly improve nitrogen intake and retention, as well as total digestible nutrients. BAM substitution in its own case can only marginally improve nitrogen intake, even though it will exert a significantly positive impact on nitrogen retention. However, it will significantly decrease the total digestible nutrients.

Keywords: Digestibility, intake, mineral composition, nitrogen balance, nutrients, substitution


Majority of the ruminants in tropical Africa are raised on native pastures and crop residues (Tchinda et al 1993). During the dry season, the natural pastures and crop residues available for ruminants after crop harvest are usually fibrous and devoid of most essential nutrients including proteins, energy, minerals and vitamins which are required for increased rumen microbial fermentation and improved performance of the host animal (Dixon and Egan 1987, Osuji et al 1995) resulting in weight loss, low birth weight, lowered resistance to disease, and reduced animal performance (Onwuka et al 1989). In The Gambia, groundnut hay, the major residue after groundnut harvest, is the traditional feed resource of choice, especially in urban areas. This crop residue is hauled into peri-urban animal depots where it is used on a zero-grazing basis for about nine months of dry season in the year. Most crop residues have generally been identified to have low nitrogen contents, low intake and poor digestion. Supplementations with concentrate mixtures including cereal grains, cereal bran, or oilseed meals have resulted in increased intakes in intensive production systems and have been the subject of several excellent reviews including that of Bangani et al (2000). Unfortunately, these supplements are often not fed due their unavailability and their high cost (Nouala et al 2006). The use of forage legumes as supplements has been suggested as an alternative to the use of concentrates (Jones 1979; Ndemanisho 1996; Roothaert and Paterson 1997). However, there are numerous trees and shrubs that are yet to be tapped for animal use (Anurudu et al 2004).


Two fodder species that are currently under-utilized in animal feeding are Moringa oleifera (MOR) and bamboo (Oxytenanthera abyssinica) (BAM). MOR, a non-leguminous multi-purpose tree, is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, with high crude protein in the leaves (> 20 %) (Makkar and Becker 1996; Nouala et al 2006), and offering a good alternative source of protein to humans and ruminants wherever they thrive (Nouala et al 2006). In The Gambia, MOR is grown in the backyards and the leaves are mainly used as food (Nouala et al 2006) while BAM can be found growing in forest margins with both fodders having a high potential as feed resources for ruminants. However, potential fodders must have a high nutritive value to be useful in livestock feeding, with nutritive value being a function of feed intake and efficiency of extraction of nutrients from the feed during digestion (Norton 2003). This study was therefore, designed to assess the intake, nitrogen utilization, and in vivo nutrient digestibility of MOR and BAM leaves in equal combinations respectively with groundnut hay (1:1) by West African Dwarf (WAD) goats, with a sole groundnut hay (GNH) diet as the reference diet.


Materials and methods 

Study site 

The study was conducted at the Small Ruminant Unit of the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC), The Gambia; a country situated on the Atlantic Coast at the Western tip of West Africa, and is surrounded by Senegal on three sides (Bojang 1999).  ITC is located in Kerr Serrigne, which lies between the latitude 13o 45’N and 16o 45’W (Diack et al 2005).


Experimental protocol


Eighteen WAD weaned goats (9 male and 9 female), weighing 9.4 (▒0.8) kg, were purchased from some Gambian local small ruminant markets. These animals were quarantined for a period of three weeks prior to the commencement of the trial. During this period, they were treated with oxycare antibiotic injection for three days, dewormed with Albendazole, drenched with Amprolium against coccidia, sprayed with Bayticol (Flumethrine) against ecto-parasites and fed ad libitum on GNH. The goats were thereafter grouped into three of six goats each, and balanced for weight and sex in a randomized complete block design (RCBD). They were thereafter moved into metabolic cages designed for the complete separation and collection of faeces and urine. The goats were fed at 4 % of their mean body weights (DM basis). Goats in treatment 1 were offered MOR leaves at 50 % of the feed dry matter offered while those in treatment 3 were offered BAM leaves at 50 % of the feed dry matter offered with the remaining 50 % of the feed dry matter (DM) consisting of GNH respectively for each group, while the animals in treatment 2 were offered a sole diet of GNH. 


There was an initial adaptation period of 14 days to the metabolic cages and the experimental diets. There were two nutrient digestibility and nitrogen balance data collection periods of 7 days each, with the two periods separated by four weeks of animal rest outside the metabolic cages and one week adaptation period inside the cages. During the collection periods, the feed offered to each animal was reduced to 95% of voluntary feed intake to minimize/eliminate feed refusal. Fresh, clean water was made available ad libitum to the animals throughout the duration of the trial. During each collection period, urine and faeces voided by each animal were collected every morning before feeding between 09.00 and 10.00 hours. 10% of daily faecal output by each animal was taken, dried in a forced-draught oven at 70oC for 48 h to determine the DM content and stored at 4oC until needed for further analysis. The urine from each animal was collected in 5ml of 5% (v/v) glacial acetic acid and measured. A 10% aliquot solution was taken daily and stored at 4oC until needed for analysis. Samples of 100g each of GNH, MOR and BAM leaves were taken daily during the collection periods and analyzed for dry matter by drying at 70oC for 48 h and stored at ambient temperature for later analysis for chemical and mineral constituents.   


Experimental diets


The experimental fodders, MOR and BAM leaves, were freshly harvested daily from established plots and stands within ITC, commencing from the early part of the dry season in November 2007. GNH was purchased from a local livestock feed market at Abuko, within the Greater Banjul Area of The Gambia.


Chemical analyses


At the end of the experiment, the stored feed and faecal samples were separately re-dried to constant weights,  ground using a hammer mill, and subsequently analyzed for crude protein (CP), ether extract (EE), total ash and nitrogen free extracts (NFE) using the standard methods of AOAC (2000). Acid detergent fibre (ADF) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) contents were analyzed with ANKOM Technology Methods (2001a and b). The urine samples were pooled together and sampled for nitrogen content using the standard method of AOAC (2000). The mineral contents of the experimental feedstuffs were determined with an Atomic Absorption Spectro-Photometer.


Statistical analyses


The data for the two collection periods were pooled together for the computation of mean nutrient digestibility, mean total digestible nutrient, and mean nitrogen balance values. The resultant data were subjected to Analysis of Variance (SAS 1998). Significant differences between means were compared using the Duncan Multiple Range Test (SAS 1998).


Results and discussion 

Nutrient and mineral compositions of feed ingredients and experimental diets


The nutrient and mineral compositions of the feed ingredients and experimental diets are as shown in Table 1.

Table 1.  Nutrient and mineral compositions (%) of experimental feed components/combinations fed to WAD goats


Feed components/Experimental diets







Dry Matter, %







% of Dry Matter



















































































MOR= Moringa leaves, GNH = Groundnut hay, BAM= Bamboo leaves

*Nutrient compositions were computed for mixed experimental diets

The nutrient compositions of MOR and BAM leaves were observed to fall within the ranges reported in the literature (Makkar and Becker 1996; Keir et al 1997; Foidl et al 2001; Hoffmann et al 2001; Huque et al 2001; Nouala et al 2006; Odeyinka et al 2008). The CP of MOR and BAM leaves were lower than reported values for Gliricidia sepium (26%) and Leucaena leucocephala (25%), two of the most commonly utilized browses in small ruminant nutrition (Odeyinka et al 2003). However, the CP of MOR has been reported (Becker 1995) to be of better quality for ruminants because of its high content of by-pass protein (47% versus 30% and 41% for gliricidia and leucaena, respectively). The CP content of GNH was 13.5 %, which was higher than the range of 7.4 to 8.8 % reported by some researchers (Ahmed and Pollot 1977; Ndlovu and Hove 1995). It was however comparable to the value of 12.8 % reported by Nouala et al (2006). CF and EE values of 23.0 % and 2.67 % obtained in this study for GNH were also at variance with the corresponding values of 39.5 % and 0.5 % reported by Ahmed and Pollot (1977). The observed variations in GNH nutrient composition could have been due to non-uniformity in their harvesting and collection methods from one source to another, thus making the use of quality as described by Leng (1990) in classifying groundnut hay to be location-dependent. Nonetheless, the mean CP concentrations of the three experimental feedstuffs were all higher than the minimum of 8% necessary to provide the minimum ammonia levels required by rumen microorganisms to support optimum activity (Annison and Bryden 1998; Norton 2003). MOR leaves however appeared apparently higher in CP and EE relative to the other feed ingredients while BAM leaves had higher levels of the ADF and NDF. High EE contents have been associated with rich sources of carotene and pigments (Foidl et al 2001), and Makkar and Becker (1996) have shown MOR leaves as being rich in carotene. The NFE values appeared comparable for the three feed ingredients. The respective ADF and NDF values of 28.9% and 28.0% reported for MOR leaves have been described by Okoli et al (2003) as low to moderate when compared with low quality roughages which ruminants can effectively degrade. The K and Ca concentrations in the three experimental feeds were higher than the respective levels of 0.50% and 0.16% generally recommended for non-lactating goats (NRC 1981), while they all contained Na levels lower than the dietary value of 0.5 % recommended for goats (NRC 1981). Of the three experimental feeds, only GNH contained a level (0.35 %) of P that was higher than the level recommended for livestock (0.15 %; NRC 1981). The effects of the nutrient composition patterns of the feed ingredients on those of the experimental diets were such that the MOR-based diet was apparently higher in CP and EE while the BAM-based diet was apparently higher in the fibre components (Table 1). The mineral contents of the experimental diets also followed the same pattern as observed with the mineral element composition of the feed ingredients. Available reports in the literature (Makkar and Becker 1996) show that MOR is also rich in ascorbic acid, iron and in the two amino acids, methionine and cystine, that are generally deficient in other feeds. 


Nutrient intake and apparent digestibility


The nutrients’ (DM, CP, EE, NFE, NDF and ADF) intakes for the experimental diets and their apparent digestibility coefficients are as shown in Table 2.

Table 2.  Intake (g/day) and apparent digestibility (%) of West African Dwarf goats fed a sole diet of groundnut hay and its combinations with moringa and bamboo leaves


Experimental diets





Feed intake, gDM/d





MOR leaves

164 (51.8%)





152b (48.2%)


166b (52.6%)


BAM leaves



150 (47.4%)


Total DMI, g/d





Total DMI, g/kg0.75





Nutrient intake, g/d






























Apparent digestibility coefficients, %


































Total digestible nutrients, %





abc Means in the same row for each parameter with different superscripts are significantly different (P<0.05)      #Mean values (n=12)

MOR= Moringa leaves, GNH = Groundnut hay, B AM= Bamboo leaves

Substitution of GNH with either MOR (Treatment 1) or BAM leaves (Treatment 3) had no significant (P>0.05) effect on total DM intake.  The DM intake values ranged from 291, 315 and 316 g DM/animal/day, corresponding to 54.6, 59.6and 59.6 g/kg0.75 for 100GNH, 50BAM:50GNH and 50MOR:50GNH, respectively (Table 2). The table further shows that there were also no significant (P>0.05) differences in substitute intake ratios for the animals on treatments 1 and 3. The non-significant differences (P>0.05) in DM intake levels of the animals on the three treatments could be due to the fact that none of the three experimental feedstuffs suffered a nitrogen deficiency, with each of them containing greater than the critical CP level of 8% (Leng 1990).  In diets with low-quality roughages, protein supplementation has been found to increase total DM intake (Church and Santos 1981; Guthrie and Wagner 1988). Goodchild and McMeniman (1994) indicated that inclusion of 20 – 50% of plants rich in protein, in the diet results in 10 – 45% increase in intake of fibrous forage.  MOR leaf substitution of GNH was observed to significantly (P<0.05) increase CP intake and digestibility by the experimental animals (Table 2), although it has been observed (Babayemi and Bamikole 2006) that apparent CP digestibility is not an adequate indicator to assess the protein value of diets for ruminants, as the only dietary protein fraction which directly contributes amino acids to the ruminant animals is the protein which escapes degradation in the rumen and is digested in the small intestine. NDF intake was significantly (P<0.05) decreased with a marginal decrease in ADF intake. Marginal increases in DM, ADF, EE, and NFE digestibility were also observed with MOR leaf substitution. BAM leaf substitution also significantly (P<0.05) increased CP intake while it also significantly (P<0.05) increased NDF and ADF intakes. BAM leaf substitution of GNH was observed to significantly (P>0.05) decrease DM, ADF and NFE digestibilities by the experimental animals. Additionally, NDF and EE digestibilities were marginally decreased, with a marginal increase in CP digestibility. The net effect of all these was a significant (P<0.05) increase in total digestible nutrients with MOR substitution of GNH but a significant (P<0.05) decrease in total digestible nutrients with BAM substitution (Table 2).


The apparent digestibilities observed in this study agree with some earlier reports (Getachew et al 1994; Ndemanisho et al 1998; Babayemi and Bamikole 2006) on the assessment of some forage legume supplementations and substitutions on the digestibility of maize stover by small ruminants, while they were lower than those obtained for sheep fed grass silage with concentrates (Abazinge et al 1994). The observed effects of MOR substitution on nutrient digestibility could be attributed to the limited effect of moringa foliage on rumen fill (Umunna et al 1995) because of its relatively low NDF concentration (Table 1), and the significantly (P<0.05) lower NDF intake (Table 2)  by the animals as a result of MOR substitution. A similar effect of MOR foliage on Bracharia brizantha hay utilization was observed by Reyes (2006) while working with Reyna Creole dairy cows. Nouala et al (2006) also observed that MOR leaves can be used as supplements to diets based on crop residues/poor roughage to improve the efficiency of nutrient utilization Dry matter intake and dry matter digestibility are inversely related to the cell wall constituents (fibre), especially the NDF and lignin (Bakshi and Wadhwa 2004).


Nitrogen utilization


Nitrogen intake and apparent digestible nitrogen were observed to be significantly (P<0.05) higher for animals on the MOR-supplemented diet relative to those for the other two groups, which showed no significant (P>0.05) differences (Table 3), while no significant (P>0.05) differences were observed for faecal and urinary nitrogen for all the treatment groups. Urinary nitrogen as a percentage of apparent digestible nitrogen was however highest (P<0.05) for 100GNH, with no significant differences observed among the other two diets. All the animals had a positive nitrogen balance which did not differ significantly (P>0.05), but with marginal increases following the trend; 50MOR:50GNH > 50BAM:50GNH > 100GNH. The nitrogen balances of 1.08 and 1.50 obtained for 50BAM:50GNH and 50MOR:50GNH respectively were similar to the range of 0.9 to 2.0g/d reported by Anbarasu et al (2004) for goats fed a sole diet of Guinea grass or in mixture with Ficus religiosa (Bamikole et al 2003), and 1.34 – 1.69g/d reported by Babayemi and Bamikole (2006) for goats fed grass diets with concentrate supplements.

Table 3.  Nitrogen balance (g / animal / day) of the experimental WAD goats fed moringa and bamboo-supplemented groundnut hay diets






Nitrogen (N) intake





Faecal N





Apparent digestible N





Urinary N





Retained N





Urinary N, % of apparent digestible N





N retention, % of N intake





abc Means in the same row for each parameter with different superscripts are significantly different (P<0.05)      #Mean values (n=12)

MOR= Moringa leaves, GNH = Groundnut hay, BAM = Bamboo leaves

All the nitrogen balance values obtained in this study (0.75 – 1.50) were however lower than 2.23 – 3.30g/d reported by Ogunmoye (1995) for goats fed soybean-based diets. Nitrogen retention as a percentage of nitrogen intakes ranged between 11.8 and 19.5%, with the values for 50MOR:50GNH and 50BAM:50GNH being significantly (P<0.05) higher than the one for 100GNH. All the three values were however lower than the reported range of 32.6 to 58.3% (Ndemanisho et al 1998; Babayemi and Bamikole 2006) for goats fed concentrate diets.  Nitrogen balance has been described as a good indicator of the protein value of a diet when the amino acid supply is balanced with the energy supply (Babayemi and Bamikole 2006).  





This study was made possible with the financial support of the IDRC-funded project, “Scaling-up Agricultural Innovations and Food Security Systems In The Gambia and Sierra Leone Integrated Peri-Urban Systems: Horticulture and Livestock in West African Cities (Phase 3)”, and the IFAD-sponsored project, “Enhancing the Local Natural Resources Exploitation”, based in ITC, The Gambia.



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Received 21 October 2009; Accepted 6 November 2009; Published 1 January 2010

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