Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Role of fodder trees in Philippine smallholder farms
by F.A. Moog


The majority of livestock in Asia are found on smallholder farms. In the Philippines, it is estimated that 80 percent of the cattle population is raised by smallholders while over 90 percent of buffalo and goats are also in the hands of small farmers. Dairy production remains underdeveloped but the small number of cattle and buffalo being milked are raised by smallholders, who individually sell their produce to milk buyers or through a government assisted milk-collection program. The sheep population is small (about 30,000) but interest in the animal is growing with a high level of acceptability on both small and large farms. The feeding of livestock on small farms depends primarily on forages which consist of weeds, crop by-products and tree fodder.


Table 1 and 2 show the limited resources available on smallholder cattle farms: farmers operate a small parcel of land and most of them cultivate less than 2 hectares. A very small proportion own more than 2 hectares. Animal holdings are few, with the majority of the farms keeping one head of cattle. Larger landholdings and animal holdings were observed in the village Pacifico, a sugarcane growing area, compared to other villages.

A survey by Alviar (1987) of 1,867 buffalo producers showed that 76% of them had farm areas of 3 hectares and below while only 24% had more than 3 hectares. In terms of animal holdings, 52, 29 and 19% own 1, 2 and 3 or more buffalo, respectively.

TABLE 1. Farm size distribution (%) in four Philippine villages
Area (hectare) Village
Luyos Galamay-Amo Pacifico Matipunso
Less than 1.0 42 22 33 40
1 – 1.9 42 48 48 14
2 – 2.9 6 20 15 15
3 or more - 10 4 0
Sample farms (No.) 63 100 81 71
TABLE 2. Cattle holding distribution (%) in four Philippine villages
Village No. of Head Luyos Galamay-Amo Pacifico Matipunso
1 42 92 48 74
2 54 8 26 23
3 or more 4 - 36 3
TABLE 3. Trees and shrubs species used as fodder on smallholder farms.
Species Parts Used as Fruit/Feed Other Economic Uses
Common Name Scientific Name
1. Madre de Cacao (Kakawati) Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Welp Leaves Shade, post, timber, hedge, fuelwood, driftwood for orchids
2. lpil-ipil Leucaena leucocephala (Lmk) de Wit Leaves Shed, post, hedge, fuelwood
3. Katuray Sesbania grandiflora Leaves Hedge, fuelwood, seed for handicrafts
4. Acacia (Rain tree) Samanea saman (Jacq.) Merr. Leaves and pods Shade, timber for furniture and handicraft
5. Dapdap Erythrina spp. Leaves Post, hedge
6. Malunggay Moringa oleifera Leaves Vegetable
7. Nangka (Jackfruit) Artocarpus integra Unripe off-size/ small fruits; ripe fruit peelings Fruit
8. Saging Musa paradisiaca L. Leaves/trunks and fruit peelings Fruit (Banana)
9. Kadyos Cajanus cajan (L.) Huth Leaves, empty pods Fuelwood, vegetable
10. Cowpea Desmanthus virgatus Leaves Hedge
11. Bignay-pugo Antidesma spp. Leaves Fruit for wine manufacture
12. Bignay-kalabaw Antidesma bunius (L.) Spreng. Leaves Fruit for wine manufacture
13. Kalios Streblus asper Lour. Leaves  
14. Anunang Cordia dichotoma Forst. Leaves Glue (fruit)
15. Niyog (Coconut) Cocos nucifera L. Frond stalks and leaflets Juice (Young coconut), oil timber, broom, and fuelwood rum, vinegar
16. Palsahingin Canarium asperum var. sementis Bth. Leaves  


Fodder trees are grown naturally on smallholder farms and are an integral part of the farming system. Most of the identified fodder tree species are not primarily grown for fodder but for other purposes. Table 3 lists the tree species commonly found and used (some of them occasionally) as fodder in the Philippines. Most of the species had economic values other than fodder but being grown for such purposes makes them readily available for livestock feeding. Utilization of these species is still very limited and is confined to areas of livestock concentration and intensive crop production systems. In most areas, they are hardly used as a source of fodder. Ipil-ipil (Leucaena leucocephala) has been the most popular of the fodder. tree species but its extensive use as fodder is confined in Batangas province. Gliricidia is more versatile than Ipil-ipil in terms of actual farm use, particularly as shade for black pepper, coffee and cacao. It has a wider distribution than any of the other species. Its major drawback is that it is not highly acceptable to cattle but, for sheep and goats, such a limitation is not observed. Sesbania grandiflora is commonly found in rice growing areas of Central Luzon. It is grown on roadsides and the perimeter of gardens. It is more popular for its inflorescence, which is used as a vegetable, than for its value as source of fodder. Sesbania is one of the species identified as an alternative to Ipil-ipil and has been introduced into upland areas of Batangas where psyllids have caused serious damage. It cannot be compared to Ipil-ipil in terms of palatability to cattle, but farmers report that it is relished by goats. (Most farmers in Batangas prefer raising cattle to goats).

The rain tree (Samanea saman) is commonly grown for shade but it is also grown on rice farms where, every year during the dry season, it is cut for fuelwood but not fodder. In Batangas, its leaves and pods are used for cattle feeding during the dry season.

The use of Erythrina is almost confined to live fence-posts. It is highly palatable to goats.

Moringa oleifera is popular for its leaves as vegetables. The tree is pruned regularly (30–45 days) and the leaves are sold in the market. The leaves are cooked for soap and highly recommended for nursing mothers because it is claimed to be very nutritious. One advantage of this species over the rest is that it is easily propagated from stem cuttings (as well as from seed) with a very high survival rate; it is relished by sheep and goats.

The rest of the species are seldom used but when feed shortages are encountered they have their own value. Except for coconuts, which are found on most farms, other species are just allowed to grow without consideration of due agronomic management practices.


In general, the value of fodder trees in the villages are confined during the dry season. Table 4 shows the months when high and low utilization of fodder trees occur under different upland cropping systems.

TABLE 4. Periods of high and low utilization of fodder trees in different cropping systems and villages (Philippines).
Cropping system/village High utilization Low utilization
Months Componentin feeds(% daily) Months Component in feeds (% daily)
Batangas Province        
Rice/Corn March to June 27.2 July to Feb. 4.6
(Galamay-Amo, San Jose)
Rice/Corn/ March to July 21.6 August to Feb. 15.6
(Luyos, Tanauan)        
Sugarcane April to May 17.2 June to March 5.4
(Pacifico, Sta. Teresita)
Quezon Province        
Coconut December to June 36.9 July to November 3.1
(Matipunso, San Antonio)

In rice/corn growing areas, fodder from trees is valuable from March to June, at the height of the dry season, during the planting season and the onset of the rainy season. Less fodder from trees is used in sugarcane cropping areas compared to the other 3 cropping systems. This is explained by the availability of sugarcane tops in the area where harvesting of cane occurs just before and during the dry season. Increased use of fodder trees occurs in April and May, at the end of the cane harvest period. With a combined cropping system, utilization of fodder trees is more uniform throughout the year and is less during the dry season compared to that of the rice/corn cropping system.

Fodder trees are even more valuable in coconut growing areas. A greater amount of tree fodder (36.9%) is fed for a longer period (seven months). Less biomass is available under coconuts for feeding livestock, compared to areas planted to cultivated annual crops.

Tree fodder as a supplement to crop by-products

For more than a decade, a lot of studies have been carried out on Leucaena. Marbella et al. (1979) reported that feeding cattle on rice straw with 50% Ipil-ipil gave an average gain of 520g/day, while supplementation of 40% Ipil-ipil and 10% concentrate produced 720g/day. However, considering the cost of the concentrates, the value of the extra 200g is not enough to pay for the cost of the concentrates and Ipil-Ipil supplementation alone is more economic.

Observations in Batangas showed that farmers feed their cattle with 5 to 20kg of Ipil-ipil. Estimates indicate that those feeding 15 to 20kg of Ipil-ipil, plus fresh grasses obtained an average daily gain of 800–900g.

A recent study by Medrano (1991) showed that farmers feed intake and live weight gain (LWG) of sheep increased with increasing levels of Gliricidia. Sheep fed 80% Gliricidia + 10% rice straw + 10% Setaria gave the highest adjusted LWG (49.7g) which was significantly better than those receiving lower levels of Gliricidia and 20% concentrate. The lowest LWG (20.4g) was obtained in sheep fed concentrate + 70% rice straw + 10% Setaria (Table 5). A ration containing 80% Gliricidia had the highest efficiency.

TABLE 5. Live weight gain and feed efficiency of sheep fed varying levels of Gliricidia in combination with rice straw and setaria.
20% CON
70% RS
10% SS
20% GLI
70% RS
10% SS
40% GLI
50% RS
10% SS
60% GLI
30% RS
10% SS
80% GLI
10% RS
10% SS
Number of animals 4 4 4 4 4
Feeding duration, days 63 63 63 63 63
Initial weight, kg 12.2 11.6 11.5 12.9 13.1
Final weight, kg 13.5 12.7 13.2 15.3 16.6
Live weight gain          
Total gain kg 1.27cd 1.10d 1.76c 2.41b 3.43a
LWG g/day 20.2c 17.5c 28b 38.3b 54.4a
Adjusted LWG g/day 20.35b 21.15b 32.32ab 34.82n 49.70a
Feed Efficiency (FE) 20.7b 22.1ab 16.2ab 12.7ab 10.7a
Adjusted FE 20.67b 20.31ab 14.13ab 14.27ab 12.89a

Means in the same row with different superscripts are significantly different (P<0.01).

CON - Concentrate
GLI - Gliricidia
RS - Rice Straw
SS - Setaria splendida
Source: Medrano (1991)

Recent study in the BAI (Navarro, unpublished) showed that sheep fed sugarcane tops (ad lib.), supplemented with 500g fresh Kakawati leaves + 100 grams copra meal had an average daily gain of 35g.


A range of fodder trees is available on smallholder farms but their value and utilization is limited to areas of high livestock concentration. Fodder from trees is very valuable in upland farming systems particularly during the dry season. The use of tree fodder is quite limited in sugarcane farming systems, except after the end of cane harvesting. A larger amount and longer period of fodder tree utilization is observed in coconut farming system.

Better animal performance is observed with increasing levels of tree fodder in animal ration. The use of other fodder trees may have limitations in terms of palatability for cattle but not for sheep and goats.


Alviar, N.G. 1987. Socio-economics of swamp buffalo raising in the Philippines. Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the ASPAC Region (FFTC). Extension Bulletin 254, August. Taipei, Taiwan. ROC.

Marbella, J.L., Pineda C.I., Bulay R.N., Castillo A.C. and Moog F.A. 1979. Utilization of rice straw and Ipil-ipil in cattle fattening at Magalang, Pampanga. Philippines Journal of Animal Industry 34: 81–87.

Medrano, W.C. 1991. Utilization of Madre de Cacao (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Steud.) as feed for sheep.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page