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Gliricidia sepium as dry season feed for goat production in Nigeria

Materials and methods
Results and discussion

C.F.I. Onwuka
Department of Agriculture, University of Cross River State, Uyo. C.R.S. Nigeria


An experiment comprising five trials was conducted during the dry season (November through April) to assess the nutritional value of dried Gliricidia sepium leaves (GRL) both fed alone and supplemented with cassava peel. The ability of the leaves to meet the N requirements of West African dwarf (Fouta Djallon) goats was examined.

Gliricidia leaves contain about 3.3% N and are available throughout the year. The dried leaves were stored through the dry season without deteriorating and thus can serve as a feed reserve.

Goats consumed up to 477 g of GRL DM/day when the diet was supplemented with cassava peel. Nitrogen in GRL was about 58% digestible.


The major constraint to livestock production in Nigeria is the shortage of dry season feed, particularly shortages of forage and cheap sources of supplementary N.

Tree legumes are very good sources of browse in Nigeria. Gliricidia sepium is a fast growing, perennial leguminous tree which supplies fodder. It also fixes atmospheric N. although only 13 kg N/ha per year (Duhoux and Dommergues, 1984), and thus can serve as a cheap alternative to fertilizer N.

The nutritive value of G. sepium as animal feed has been studied by Carew (1982), Mba et al (1982), Sumberg (1984) and Onwuka (1980), among others. These studies indicated that G. sepium contains between 3.2 and 4.2% N and can also be used as a source of supplemental energy for animal feeding.

This paper examines the ability of G. sepium to meet the protein and energy requirements of West African dwarf goats and the possibility of drying and preserving G. sepium leaves for feeding to animals during the dry season.

Materials and methods

Gliricidia sepium leaves (GRL) were collected from the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, and the University of Ibadan Teaching and Research Farm and oven-dried at 50-60° C for 48 hours. Cassava peel (CAP) was collected from IITA, Ibadan, and oven-dried for 3-4 days at the same temperature. The GRL and CAP were fed to West African dwarf goats in the dry season in different combinations, with GRL forming O. 25, 50, 75 and 100% of the diets, the remainder being CAP. After mixing, the diets were ground in a milling machine.

Twenty West African dwarf (WAD) goats obtained from the T & R farm of the University of Ibadan were used in the feeding experiment. The animals were fed twice daily and kept in metabolism cages for 21 days for each trial, i.e. 14 days preliminary feeding and 7 collection days.

The proximate composition of dried GRL and CAP, faeces and urine were determined according to AOAC (1975), methods. All results are expressed on DM basis and were subjected to statistical analysis using Snedecor and Cochran's (1968) procedure for analysis of variance. Statistical significance between treatment means was determined using Duncan's (1955) multiple range test.

Results and discussion

When fed to the goats, the acceptability of the ground rations was very low and they caused diarrhoea: as a result, the leaves and cassava peel were then fed whole.

The proximate chemical compositions of the GRL and CAP are shown in Table 1. Gliricidia leaves had high crude protein content (21% CP or 3.36% N) and the protein was about 58% digestible. The crude fibre was upto 68% digestible. The gross energy value of GRL (about 4.35 kcal/g) was quite high. Cassava peel contained less CP (6%) and less gross energy (3.9 kcal/g) but more crude fibre.

The levels of macro- and micro-nutrients in GRL were quite high, although levels of Cu, Zn, P and Cl were lower than in some other forage legumes assayed by Onwuka (1980).

Table 2 shows the N and energy utilisation, weight changes and dry-matter intake by the goats. Nitrogen balance improved significantly (P<0.05) when GRL was supplemented with 25% CAP, but decreased with higher levels of CAP supplementation. The negative N-balance (-0.07) with the 100% CAP diet indicates that the animals were losing more N than they were taking in and was due probably to the low level of protein in cassava peels.

A mean MFN (metabolic faecal N) value of 0.30 g/100g DM intake was obtained from the regression of faecal N (g/kg DMI) on N intake (g/kg W0.734 per day), and an FUN (endogenous urinary N) value of 0.03 was obtained by regressing urinary N on absorbed N (all in g/kg W0.734 per day). There were highly significant (P<0.05) correlations between these parameters.

In this study, a biological value (BV) for the protein of 76.6 was observed. Using the factorial method, 0.5g/kg W0.734 per day digestible crude protein (pop) was found to be required for maintenance, while regression of N balance on N intake showed a pop requirement of 3.85g/kg W0.734 per day for weight gain. An average of 72 kcal ME/kg W0.734 was required for maintenance while 184.53 kcal ME/kg W0.734 per day was required for weight gain.

Table 1. Proximate chemical composition of Gliricidia sepium leaves and cassava peel.


Content (g/100 g DM)

Gliricidia leaves

Cassava peel

Dry matter


Crude protein



Crude fibre



Ether extract






Nitrogen-free extract



organic matter



Total digestible N













Zn (ppm)


Fe (ppm)


Mn (ppm)


Cu (ppm)


Gross energy (kcal/g)



The DM consumption values obtained in this study are comparable to those of 233.8 to 294.8 g/day obtained by Mba et al (1982) but lower than the 466 g DM obtained by Carew (1982) for Gliricidia sp. These researchers, however, fed fresh GRL. Some 4- to 5-month trials have been designed to compare dry and fresh feeds, if the materials are available.

Table 2. Summary of nitrogen and energy utilization data, weight changes and dry matter intake of West African dwarf goats fed gliricidia leaves.

Since cassava peel contains cyanide (Devendra, 1981), an alternative source of supplementary energy will be used.

The results of this study indicate that Gliricidia sepium leaves fed alone are not adequate as a dry-season feed for goats, but may be adequate when supplemented with an energy source. According to Munro and Naismith (1953) and Sibbald et al (1956), there is an optimum energy level for each protein level of a diet at which maximum N retention is obtained.

The dried gliricidia leaves used these trials did not show any deterioration in quality during the dry season.


Gliricidia sepium has a high nutrient content and has great potential for animal feeding, especially in the dry season in sub-Saharan Africa when the natural vegetation is of poor nutritive value.

The feeding value of gliricidia can be increased-by supplementing it with an energy source, such as crop or agro-industrial byproducts.

Drying gliricidia leaves is a good means of feed storage, especially in village communities where cut-and-carry is practiced and forage is scarce in the dry season. Fodder banks of gliricidia or other forage legumes could be established, especially in areas where dry season fire is a great threat.


The financial and material support of the University of Ibadan and ILCA's Humid Zone Programme, Ibadan, are acknowledged.


AOAC (Association of Official Analytical Chemists). 1975. Official methods of analysis. 12th Edition. AOAC, Washington D.C.

Carew 8 A R. 1982. Uses of Gliricidia sepium as a forage feed in small ruminant production - A progress report. ILCA, Ibadan.

Devendra C. 1981. Feeding systems for goats in the humid and sub-humid tropics. In: Nutrition and feeding systems in goats. Tours, France. pp 394-410.

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Mba A U. Mangui S A and Awah A A. 1982. Influence of concentrate supplementation with browse plant (Gliricidia sepium) on nutrient utilization and growth of the West African dwarf (Fouta Djallon) kids. Niger. J. Anim. Prod. 9(2): 63-73.

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Snedecor G W and Cochran W G. 1968. Statistical methods. 6th edition. Iowa State University Press, USA.

Sumberg J E. 1984. Alley farming in the humid zone: Linking crop and livestock production. ILCA Bulletin 18:1-15.

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