14. Potential for protein production from tree and shrub legumes.
In: Proc. of a Seminar "Forage Legumes and other Local Protein Sources as Substitutes for Imported Protein Meals", Kingston, Jamaica, 1987, pp. 50-55
This paper attempts to outline and give some information on the production of protein from tree and shrub legumes.
Certainly it does not attempt to cover all that is known about the more widely used and adapted legumes in the tropics. The author feels that there is need to investigate the legumes that are not so widely used, thereby exploiting the natural sources that may exist within the tropical cattle grazing areas.
In the tropics, forages usually have inadequate levels of proteins and minerals. The low levels severely affect livestock production, resulting in restricted growth rates, slow maturation and lower production.
The leguminous trees and shrubs have not only persisted but have become more diverse, with more than 18,000 known species. The tree legume family is thus one of the most numerous due to its adaptive traits and efficient use of the earth's natural resources, especially through the symbiotic mechanisms developed in its root structure.
Their rapid growth and high protein content makes them useful as a forage supplement. At the same time, the chemical linkages between the phenolic substances and the leaf proteins makes these resistant to bacterial attack, thereby making them more valuable as sources of nutrients.
Livestock producers are placing greater emphasis on the use of forage legumes in developing ruminant production systems. These legumes are fed either fresh, or are preserved in the form of hay or silage, to be used as a high protein supplement in the diet.
The tree and shrub legume species mentioned in this paper are:
- Aeschynomene americana L. is a tropical annual adapted to flooded soil conditions, exhibiting much diversity in plant form and growth habit.
The development work with tropical tree foliages as protein sources has been in the field of ruminant production systems. The positive results obtained in early trials proved to be sustainable under a wide range of commercial farm conditions and the rate of uptake of the technology by farmers has been rapid.
Attention should being given to their potential role in the diets of monogastric animals, with special emphasis on their use as supplements to liquid fibre-free feed resources such as sugar-cane juice and molasses. The first observations with pigs indicate that it is feasible to reach forage intakes that theoretically will satisfy the protein needs.
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