University of Tropical Agriculture (UTA-Cambodia)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
An experiment was conducted according to a change over design to study the effect of three methods of offering Muntingia calabura foliage on the voluntary feed intake and feeding behavior of young male goats. The methods were: branches hanging from the top of the cage or put in the feed trough and leaves put in the feed trough. The goats were of a local Vietnamese breed averaging 9 kg live weight.
Goats fed hanging branches of Muntingia had highest feed intake (33.52 g DM/kg body weight) as compared to the other treatments. Eating rate tended to be higher and ruminating rate was significantly higher for this treatment. From 8 am to 8 pm, animals spent the majority of time eating and ruminating, which accounted for some 65.7 to 74.7% of the period of time examined. There was no effect of treatment on any of the feeding behavior indices.
It is considered that the method of hanging foliage for goats is a feeding method that can contribute to improved performance of goats under practical farming conditions in countries of the Mekong basin.
Key words: Branches, feed trough, foliage, goats, hanging, leaves, Muntingia
Goats have been raised during many years by farmers (Devendra and Burns 1983). They can help to enhance the income of smallholder farmers in the rural areas, especially in the mountainous areas. According to Theng Kouch (2003), goat raising offers more opportunities to improve the economic livelihood of smallholder farmers by converting low-cost inputs to high value end products (meat, milk and skins). On the other hand, it has been claimed that goats have the ability to browse effectively because of the presence of mobile upper-lips (Devendra and Coop 1982; Van Soest 1982). The selective behaviour of goats encourages to them to go long distances in searching for food. Trees and shrubs are important feeds for grazing and browsing ungulates. These forage species contain appreciable amounts of nutrients that are deficient in other feed resources such as grass (Komwihangilo et al 2001).
Muntigia (Jamaica cherry is its common name) (Muntingia calabura) has recently been studied as a possible source of tree foliage for ruminants (Nguyen Xuan Ba and Le Duc Ngoan 2003). Nevertheless, very little is known about the nutritive value of foliage from Muntingia for ruminant species. Muntingia has mostly been used as a shade tree and sources of fruit. On the other hand, Muntingia stems are primarily used for firewood. It ignites quickly, and produces an intensely hot flame with little smoke. It is also used for beautification and shading purposes. It has also been considered for use as paper pulp. However, the foliage appears to be palatable to goats (Le Thi Thuy Hang 2003).
As compared to the agronomy characteristics of Muntingia, there is information about the botanical characteristics of Muntingia, which is a tree belonging to the Elaeocarpacea family. It is a small fast-growing evergreen tree with a dense, spreading crown and drooping branches. It reaches 8 to 13 m in height with a trunk 8.5 to 20 cm in diameter. It bears a cherry-like fruit in 1.5 to 2 years after planting as seed. The leaves are evergreen with a large canopy, alternate, lanceolate or oblong, long-pointed at the apex, oblique at the base; 5 to 12.5 cm long, dark-green and minutely hairy on the upper surface, gray- or brown-hairy on the underside; and irregularly toothed. The flowers, borne singly or in 2's or 3's in the leaf axils, are 1.25-2 cm wide with 5 green sepals and 5 white petals and many prominent yellow stamens. They last only one day, the petals falling in the afternoon. The abundant fruits are round, 3/8 to 1/2 in (1-1.25 cm) wide, with red or sometimes yellow, smooth, thin, tender skin...