Tree leaves, their production and nutritive value for ruminants: a review
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The estimated fodder requirement of India is 26 million tonnes annually. It is of vital importance to enhance the fodder production by improving top feed tree species. The tree species besides producing fodder, yield sufficient fuel wood also. Fodder tree species such as Prosopis cineraria, Acacia nilotica, Albizia lebbek, Azadirachta indica, and Dalbergia sissoo etc. are native to Indian sub-continent. These species have wide variation with respect to their growth rate, biomass production, nutritive value and size of fruits. Tree leaves are being increasingly used to provide fodder for livestock, as they have a number of unique characteristics which make them attractive for both smallholder and largescale livestock enterprises. Research and development efforts have concentrated on broadening the resource base by evaluating a greater range of tree leaves, defining optimum management strategies, and developing appropriate systems which capitalize on the advantages of these species. On an average, tree leaf fodder production of 0.2 to 2.0 ton/ha/year can be obtained up to 50% pruning height of the trees every year from the various agroforestry systems of different agroclimatic zones. The tree leaves contain 8–33 per cent crude protein, 1–19 per cent ether extract, 11–50 per cent crude fibre, 36–66 per cent nitrogen free extract, 22–57 per cent neutral detergent fiber, 0.2–3.0 per cent calcium and 0.1–0.3 per cent phosphorus. The digestibility coefficient of dry matter, crude protein, crude fibre, ether extract and nitrogen free extract in tree leaves ranged from 40–75, 28–83, 24–82, 32–65 and 51–85 per cent, respectively. This paper reviews the availability period of leaf/pod fodder, their preferences by livestock in different agroclimatic zones of the country, top feed production under different agroforestry systems, chemical composition of top feed species, digestibility coefficient of nutrients of some top feed, anti nutritional factors in tree leaves. Future research thrust has also been highlighted.
Top feed, Production, Nutritive value, Multipurpose trees, Shrubs.