Throughout the world the need to intensify and improve the efficiency of livestock production practices in a sustainable manner that reduces the dependency on external inputs, while conserving the natural resource base and promoting biodiversity, has been widely recognized. Demand for animal products in many developing counties is increasing due to population growth, urbanization and economic growth. Recent crises in livestock production, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) which has spread from the United Kingdom throughout Europe, highlights the need to search for alternative, more natural, production systems.
Mulberry, the feed of the silkworm, was one of the first domesticated forages in the world and has been the subject of intensive research in various countries over the last few decades. This has resulted in higher yields of better quality foliage to be converted into silk.
Where the mulberry grows naturally and where sericulture is well established, its foliage and the production residues (faeces and leftovers) are regularly fed to livestock. However, its intensive cultivation and use specifically for animal production only started during the last two decades.
In response to the growing interest in the utilization of mulberry for animal production, the Animal Production and Health Division of FAO organized the first electronic conference on this subject during 2000. Mulberry and animal production experts from Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa participated and contributed on a wide range of topics covering genetic resources, agronomy, harvesting, processing, nutritive value and animal performance.
Mulberry is present in countries all over the world and its unique characteristics of yield, palatability and nutritive value make it a valuable resource for improving and intensifying a variety of livestock production practices.
We hope that this publication contributes to the recognition of the potential of this multipurpose plant and encourages research and development efforts aimed at intensifying sustainable production for the benefit of the rural population and the environment.
Chief, Animal Production Service
FAO Animal Production and Health Division