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Trees for Fodder

Provide a well rounded diet without commercial feed, including discussions of the methods and merits of growing fodder.
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Mulberry leaves

Post Number:#1  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:03 pm


Mulberry: an exceptional forage available almost worldwide!
Manuel D. Sánchez
Animal Production and Health Division. FAO, Rome
http://www.fao.org/livestock/agap/frg/m ... __________
Summary
Mulberry (Morus spp), the traditional feed for the silk worm, has been selected and improved for leaf yield and quality in many environments and is spread throughout the world. Mulberry leaves are highly palatable and digestible (70-90 %) to herbivorous animals and can also be fed to monogastrics. Protein content in the leaves and young stems, with a good essential amino acid profile,[protein] varies from 15 to 28 % depending on the variety. Mineral content is high and no anti-nutritional factors or toxic compounds have been identified. The establishment of this perennial forage is through stakes or seed, and it is harvested by leaf picking or cutting whole branches or stems. Yields depend on variety, location (monthly temperature, solar radiation and rainfall), plant density, fertilizer application and harvesting technique, but in terms of digestible nutrients, mulberry produces more than most traditional forages. The leaves can be used as supplements replacing concentrates for dairy cattle, as the main feed for goats, sheep and rabbits, and as in ingredient in monogastric diets.

Composition and nutritive value
Results of chemical composition of mulberry fractions from various authors are presented in Table 1. Crude protein content in leaves varies from as low as 15% to 28% depending on the variety, age of the leaves and growing conditions. In general, crude protein values can be considered similar to most legume forages. Fibre fractions are low in mulberry leaves compared to other foliages. Shayo (1997) reported lignin (acid detergent lignin) contents of 8.1% and 7.1% for leaves and bark, respectively. A striking feature of mulberry leaves is the mineral content, with ash values up to 25%. Typical calcium contents are around 1.8-2.4% and phosphorus 0.14-0.24%. Espinoza et al. (1999) found potassium values of 1.90-2.87% in leaves and 1.33-1.53% in young stems, and magnesium contents of 0.47-0.63% for leaves and 0.26-0.35% for young stems.


https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals ... FDA09FE14B

One hundred and thirty-two young rabbits were divided into two groups at weaning and given ad libitum a control diet (C), or an experimental diet (M) in which lucerne hay was substituted by mulberry leaves in order to examine their effects on fattening rabbit performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality.
Digestibility coefficients of dry matter (DM), crude protein and gross energy were similar in both groups but digestibility of crude fibre in the experimental diet was higher in line with a lower food intake in this group of animals, while ether extract digestibility of mulberry leaves was very low.
Food conversion ratio was similar in the two groups (3.1 g DM per g gain) but rabbits given the experimental diet had lower food intake (102 v. 144 g/day) and impaired live-weight gain. The rate of mortality was similar in the two groups. The substitution of lucerne with mulberry in the diet may have induced a higher retention time of digesta, as seems to be indicated by a higher weight of digestive tract contents recorded at slaughter (proportionately 0.32 more) in mulberry group. Live weight at slaughter of animals in control group was higher (2680 v. 2211 g) and also skin weight was proportionately 0.5 higher and its carcasses were proportionately 0.41 heavier than those of animals in experimental group (dressing yield 587 v. 503 g/kg). At constant carcass weight, the carcasses of rabbits of the mulberry group were longer than the lucerne group, but lumbar circumference tended also to be higher (P = 0.09) and no differences were found in the length: circumference ratio. No differences were found in the weights of kidneys or thoracic viscera, but livers of rabbits of the lucerne group were heavier (proportionately 0.3 heavier). The more remarkable difference was that carcasses of rabbits given the experimental diet had markedly less fat in scapular (5.8 v. 10.0 g) and perirenal fat (9.0 v. 22.3 g) deposits.
No differences in cooking losses or water-holding capacity of the meat were found and also the colour was similar, but the b* parameter was a little lower for meat of the M group rabbits.
The proportion of protein in the meat was the same for rabbits of the two groups, but rabbits given the experimental diet which had leaner carcasses also had leaner meat (19 v. 37 g lipids per kg meat) and a little more moisture (755 v.736 g/kg meat). Intra and intermuscular fat of hindleg meat from rabbits of group M was less saturated and more unsaturated than that of the conventional rabbits mainly due to its higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, ω6 (37•3 v. 29•1 g/100 g lipids) and ω3 (3•4 v. 2•2 g/ 100 g lipids). Polyunsaturated: saturated ratio was higher in the mulberry group than in the lucerne group (1•15 v. 0•85) indicating a more desirable value in rabbits given the experimental diet, so meat of these rabbits could be considered preferable for human nutrition from this point of view.
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Re: Mulberry leaves

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:05 pm


Great information and a timely reminder of an excellent forage.
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Re: Mulberry leaves

Post Number:#3  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:19 pm


I guess I should point out [even though, some folks on here will understand "this language" catch this correlation ] Mulberry leaf is lower than alfalfa in fiber, alfalfa diets are already a little low in longstem fiber, so - longer time for feed to move through the gut for the rabbits fed mulberry leaf [thereby reducing feed intake] and rate of gain, --this "may" be remedied by adding a good source of long stem fiber.. [for instance, "maybe" feeding some branches with the leaves] Feed conversion was comparable ..
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Re: Mulberry leaves

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:50 pm


I think it's always a good idea to feed branches/twigs as well as leaves. I don't have mulberry on this property, but we have lots of willow and poplar and I generally fed small branches as well as leaves. The rabbits really enjoyed the bark as well as the leaves and suffered no ill effects, even though willow is known to contain aspirin-like substances. Much of the tree material I fed the rabbits came from downed branches from wind storms or pruning to keep growth under control. It made it easy just to toss a branch or two or three into the colony and let them have at it.
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Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#5  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:53 pm


Inspired by michaels4gardens' excellent information on mulberry as feed for rabbits, I decided to go through my bookmarks. A lot of them are no longer valid, unfortunately, so I googled willow as fodder. There is so much information available now, compared to a few years ago. Most of it is for livestock other than rabbits, but much of it can be applied to rabbits as well. Poplar (Populus spp.) are akin to the willows (Salix spp.) and can be used in similar ways as animal feed.

Here are just a few of the links:

http://www.countrysmallholding.com/land ... -1-3493236

https://www.agforward.eu/index.php/en/a ... urope.html

http://www.ontariosheep.org/uploads/use ... 0sheep.pdf

http://www.half-pinthomestead.com/weeds ... ed-willow/
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Re: Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#6  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:16 pm


I think a system could be developed to use trees as the primary feed, a variety of edible prolific trees could be grown and the leaves and branches fed green. The leaves and branches could also be cut and dried for winter use. If root crops were added ( or some other high calorie feed) I think it could be a very workable feed program.. I would love to do a study on this, but i now live in town, and growing the trees to harvestable age would be a 3 to 5 year project. If the tree branches were woven into a living fence (like in the first link you shared, ) harvesting would be simplified .
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Re: Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#7  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:26 pm


I agree with you, Michael. I think rabbits in particular are well-suited to that kind of diet. I have the land but not the mobility. What we need is someone with both land and health to make a concerted effort in this direction.

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Re: Mulberry leaves

Post Number:#8  Unread postby akane » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:47 pm


I found several sources back when I was first searching that said mulberry leaves are diuretic. It might be something to watch during times of increased water consumption or if there could be interruption in the water supply part of the day. Generally though if the water is freezing the mulberry leaves are gone unless you dry them. They do dry great. I give the wood to the chinchillas with as fast as the trees grow but they handle fresh food far worse than rabbits so they get a little dried items and the rest actually layers my bioactive reptile enclosures to hold humidity and keep the cleanup crew multiplying between reptile waste.
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Re: Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Shea » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:56 pm


I believe the technique is called coppice. If I remember correctly it was used mainly europe to supplement traditional hay.

__________ Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:56 pm __________

Correction pollard is the term used for "tree hay" coppice was used more for poles.

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Re: Mulberry leaves

Post Number:#10  Unread postby LittleFluffyBunnies » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:32 am


Very interesting. I've always been wary of giving mulberry leaves because I heard something about them having negative effects. But if that isn't true and they are actually nutritious I'm very happy, because I have trouble finding safe forage for them. I have several mulberry trees on my property so this will be easy to feed.
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Re: Mulberry leaves

Post Number:#11  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:14 am


LittleFluffyBunnies wrote:Very interesting. I've always been wary of giving mulberry leaves because I heard something about them having negative effects. But if that isn't true and they are actually nutritious I'm very happy, because I have trouble finding safe forage for them. I have several mulberry trees on my property so this will be easy to feed.


I have fed loads of mulberry to rabbits, they love it. I have also fed them to chickens, pigs, goats, and a milk cow, - I have not noticed anything negative except the labor of collecting them. I fed mostly white mulberry, but have also fed some black mulberry leaves with no problem .[ it appears that the white mulberry may either have a better feed value, or it is more palatable, as snails, rabbits, and goats would eat all the white variety first, then move on to the black]
The only feed tials I have done with mulberry leaves is not very relevant to rabbits, as it was with snails [Helix espersa, "french culinary , or common garden snail" ] and [pomacea canaliculata ,"apple snail"]
In helix aspersa, the snails grew to harvestable size just a little more quickly when fed exclusively white mulberry leaves, than they did on the "high dollar" snail feed ration that was grain based.
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Re: Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#12  Unread postby alforddm » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:02 am


Don't forget one of my favorites, pink silk tree (Albizia julibrissin). It has very high protein and digestibility, it can be coppiced, its a nitrogen fixer, and no thorns (unlike many other leguminous trees). If left to mature the blossoms attract butterflies.

Downsides: It can be invasive but is generally already widespread in the south. If left to mature, it tends to shed branches and creates alot of ground litter with seed pods. There have been reports of the seeds being toxic to dogs. However, horses and cows (and I'm assuming goats) seem to be unaffected. If raising for forage it shouldn't be a problem because coppicing prevents seed production.

This paper includes comparisons of Morus Alba, Albizia julibrissin, and a few other species when used for goats. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/J_ ... -Goats.pdf

White mulberry (Morus alba) and three leguminous tree species, Black locust (Robinia
pseudoacacia L.), Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin Durazz) and Honey locust (Gleditsia
triacanthos), were evaluated for growth, leaf biomass, nutritive value and browsing
preference by yearling crossbred Boer goats (Capra hircus hircus). One-year-old
seedlings were planted in March 1995. Based on leaf production data taken in September
1997 and May 1998, Robinia pseudoacacia (560 and 1,493 kg dry matter [DM]/ha) and
Albizia julibrissin (773 and 608 kg DM/ha) have high potential as silvopastoral species
for meat goats. Morus alba did not produce as much herbage (243 and 258 kg DM/ha) as
the other two species, but was highly preferred by goats. Goats exhibited an initial low
preference for Albizia julibrissin but readily consumed that species following defoliation
of the other three tree species. Crude protein and neutral detergent fiber concentrations
and in vitro true DM disappearance of leaf samples averaged, respectively: 23, 31 and
96% for Morus alba; 23, 44 and 60% for Robinia pseudoacacia; 24, 33 and 84% for
Albizia julibrissin; and 18, 43 and 71% for Gleditsia triacanthos. Although of good
quality and readily consumed by goats, Gleditsia triacanthos was judged to be a low
value browse species due to its low biomass production (98 and 172 kg DM/ha). These
results also indicate that Robinia pseudoacacia, Morus alba, and Albizia julibrissin have
the potential to play an important role in meat goat production systems. The importance
of anti-quality factors such as tannins, that decreased in vitro DM disappearance of
Robinia pseudoacacia will have to be evaluated in in vivo experiments. Conversely,
tannins present in Robinia pseudoacacia may represent a useful alternative to traditional
anthelmintics to control gastrointestinal worm loads in goats.


Another tree that could be used for forage but is overlooked is osage orange (Maclura pomifera). It is a member of the mulberry family and I have seen studies were it was fed to silk worms with some success although it didn't produce the quality of silk that mulberry did. I have successfully fed it to rabbits (although not in great quantity). This article says that goats readily eat the leaves and that has been my experience with rabbits as well. http://articles.extension.org/pages/195 ... oma-browse Can be coppiced. Makes an excellent hedge tree after a few years. Horses Love Love LOVE the apples. Reports of livestock deaths is related to cows choking on the apples (they lack front teeth to bite through the apples) and not to the toxicity of the fruit. There are reports of medicinal values (antifungal antibacterial) but to my knowledge it has not been widely studied.

__________ Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:02 am __________

Oh and sweet gum. Can be coppiced (at least they always seem to grow back when you cut them down) and rabbits readily eat the leaves. I haven't been able to find any values for protein.

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Re: Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Rainey » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:46 am


MaggieJ wrote:I agree with you, Michael. I think rabbits in particular are well-suited to that kind of diet. I have the land but not the mobility. What we need is someone with both land and health to make a concerted effort in this direction.

Oh, Rainey . . . :whistle:


Since RT is my only online experience (brief time on Backyard Chickens) I feel unsure of the 'rules' and don't want to annoy others by repeating the same posts. But I was thinking of mentioning willows after seeing the post on mulberry. We feed willows year round to rabbits and goats--our chickens don't show any interest. We feed fresh as long as the leaves are green and healthy looking. In May we cut down one of the big willows (sorry, Maggie, don't know the species and even our retired botanist friend was uncertain, thought it was some variant of white willow), bundle small branches and hang them to dry in the loft of the barn we built in 2015. In fall we strip off the dried leaves and store them in a bin for winter feeding. When fed fresh the rabbits eat more of the woody parts. In winter they seem to prefer freshly cut apple or willow twigs but still readily eat willow leaves. We do also feed some roots but don't have as much success storing them longer term as Michael seems to have so in spring we don't feed them much until the first new roots are ready to harvest. So it isn't really the experiment suggested because we also feed hay (because we make our own for goats and so hay is easy/cheap for us) and some grain (wheat, oats) and BOSS to nursing does and grow-outs. Also feed a wide variety of other fresh greens--weeds, herbs, garden thinnings etc during the growing season.
We've tried cutting some willows for coppicing or pollarding but haven't had much success. So many of our willows are huge with the foliage out of reach. But we also have several different species of shrub type willows that we can easily cut and feed. The rabbits seem to prefer leaves from the large trees when they get a choice. We've been cutting pieces and sticking them in the ground in some damp areas and some have rooted. I think it may be easier to keep them cut to a height we can reach, but we're waiting for them to get a good start before we cut from them.
I'd recommend willow as feed for rabbits and goats to anyone who has access to it. We tried to start mulberry but they didn't survive even though it is considered invasive not that far from us. Don't know if it would be more nutritious, but for us willow is what we have and it doesn't have that messy fruit nor a reputation as invasive. So we use it and try to make using it easier.

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Re: Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#14  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:27 pm


alforddm wrote:Don't forget one of my favorites, pink silk tree (Albizia julibrissin). It has very high protein and digestibility, it can be coppiced, its a nitrogen fixer, and no thorns (unlike many other leguminous trees). If left to mature the blossoms attract butterflies.

Downsides: It can be invasive but is generally already widespread in the south. If left to mature, it tends to shed branches and creates alot of ground litter with seed pods. There have been reports of the seeds being toxic to dogs. However, horses and cows (and I'm assuming goats) seem to be unaffected. If raising for forage it shouldn't be a problem because coppicing prevents seed production.


__________ Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:02 am __________

Oh and sweet gum. Can be coppiced (at least they always seem to grow back when you cut them down) and rabbits readily eat the leaves. I haven't been able to find any values for protein.


cool , i didn't know mimosa was edible...
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Re: Trees for Fodder

Post Number:#15  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:59 pm


Please note:

At michaels4gardens' suggestion, we have merged the mulberry thread with the trees for fodder thread. This should result in a better resource for the future.

Keep it coming, folks! :)
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