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Nutritional potential documented for livestock grazing on fodder trees in sandy and clay soils


Trees can play a role in nourishing livestock; however, the amount of nutrition it provides relies on what type is used. Led by researchers from the Louis Bolk Institute in the Netherlands, the findings of the study appeared in the journal Agroforestry Systems.

  • The authors looked at how trees function in a silvopastoral system – that is, the practice where forestry and grazing are combined – particularly, how they’re used as readily available fodder for dairy cows within or around pastures.
  • Farmers have already observed that aside from grazing, cows also browse from trees. However, not much is known about the nutritional value of different tree species.
  • For the study, the team studied how soil type and season affect the nutritional potential of three tree species: Fraxinus excelsior, Alnus glutinosa, and Salix viminalis.
  • Leaf samples from the trees were obtained from 10 sites in the Netherlands. The samples came from both clay and sandy soils and were collected in June, July, and September. These were then evaluated for digestibility, crude protein, and concentration for both macro and microelement.
  • Researchers found out differences between the nutritional value of leaf samples, as well as differences between the crude protein, calcium, phosphorus, copper, and selenium concentrations based on the season.
  • While the type of soil did not have an effect on the nutritional value of leaves, they found significant reaction between the type of tree and the sampling period – as they affect the digestibility of leaves and their calcium and sulfur content.
  • The type of soil affected the digestibility of certain leaf samples, as well as their calcium content. Moreover, the type of tree and soil and the sampling period have a significant effect on the levels of zinc and selenium present in the tree leaves.

In conclusion, the authors of the study determined that trees have the potential to supply protein, as well as macro and microelements, to livestock depending on the tree species.

Journal Reference:

Luske B, Eekeren NV. NUTRITIONAL POTENTIAL OF FODDER TREES ON CLAY AND SANDY SOILS. 2017 Dec 22. DOI: doi.org/10.1007/s10457-017-0180-8



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