Apparent digestibility and microbial protein yield of Desmodium uncinatum, Mucuna pruriens and Vigna unguiculata forage legumes in goats

Published in: African Journal of Range & Forage Science
Volume 33, issue 1, 2016 , pages: 53–58
DOI: 10.2989/10220119.2015.1043646
Author(s): Simbarashe KatsandeDepartment of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, South Africa, Joseph J BaloyiDepartment of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, South Africa, Florence V Nherera-ChokudaAgricultural Research Council, South Africa, Nobbert T NgongoniFaculty of Agriculture, Zimbabwe, Gift MatopeParaclinical Department of Veterinary Sciences, Zimbabwe, Plaxedis I ZvinorovaParaclinical Department of Veterinary Sciences, Zimbabwe, Jacob GushaParaclinical Department of Veterinary Sciences, Zimbabwe


This study examined the effects of adding forage legumes as protein supplements to poor-quality natural pasture (veld) hay offered to goats on microbial protein yield and nitrogen metabolism. Four indigenous Nguni-type goats were used in a 4×4 Latin cross-over design experiment. Goats were randomly allocated to four dietary treatments comprising commercial goat feed (GF), veld hay supplemented with cowpea (CW), velvetbean (VB) or silverleaf desmodium (SD). Microbial protein yields were determined using the purine derivatives technique and nitrogen retention was calculated from the digestible organic matter intake. Total nitrogen intake was significantly higher in the GF followed by CW, SD and VB, respectively. Microbial protein supply, calculated microbial true protein and digestible microbial true protein were affected (P<0.05) by legume supplementation. Animals on poor-quality forages had the most efficient microbial protein synthesis. However, supplementation of hay failed to meet the maintenance requirements of animals as evidenced by negative nitrogen balances in VB and SD. The efficiency of utilisation of nitrogen in the supplements could have been limited by unavailable fermentable metabolisable energy in the diets. Supplementation of poor-quality veld hay with legume forages could improve utilisation, especially in the dry season.

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