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White Mulberry (Morus alba) Foliage as a Feeding Supplement for Growing Calves

Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology A 6 (2016) 59-63
doi: 10.17265/2161-6256/2016.01.006
White Mulberry (Morus alba) Foliage as a Feeding
Supplement for Growing Calves
Amalia Cabrera Núñez, Iliana Del Carmen Daniel Rentería, Miguel Ángel Lammoglia Villagómez, César Enrique
Martinez Sánchez, Sara Aida Alarcón Pulido and Rebeca Rojas-Ronquillo
School of Biological and Agricultural Science, University of Veracruz, Tuxpan, Veracruz 92860, Mexico
Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate the feed consumption and weight gain in calves fed with a nutritional block made of
white mulberry (Morus alba) for a 90-day-period, involving dry season months (March-May) in Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico. A total
of 45 growing Zebu × Swiss calves with an average weight of 200 kg were assigned randomly in three groups of 15 animals, and the
following treatments of nutritional block were offered to each group: grazing animals (T0), grazing animals plus nutritious block with
white mulberry (T1), and grazing animals plus nutritious block without white mulberry (T2). A consumption of 0.545 kg/d from block
in treatment T1 was observed, significantly improving calves growing and showing a weight gain of 0.933 kg/d. Use of white
mulberry in nutritional blocks is a good alternative for growing calves, as a feeding strategy given the seasonality of pasture
production in the tropics.
Key words: White mulberry, nutritional supplement, calves.
1. Introduction
In most of tropical regions, there is a need of a
dietary supplement for cattle, considering that the
rainy season is for a few months a year. This concerns
the availability of forage and therefore animal
production [1]. The periods for dietary supplements
vary due to climate conditions each year, but usually
they begin in January and end in May or June in North
latitude [2]. Arboreal forage production has been
widely studied, primarily as a dietary complement for
ruminants [3-7]. Several species of trees that are
common in tropical areas have good protein content in
their foliage, thus their nutritious value can be
superior to grass; in addition, they are resistant to dry
season [8].
From research carried out in the last decades,
principally in the agronomic field and animal
production, there has been generated enough
information about white mulberry (Morus alba) [9]
that can be applied for its propagation and exploitation
Corresponding author: Rebeca Rojas-Ronquillo, professor,
research fields: food biotechnology and dairy science.
in a field level; so it can represent a forage strategy to
animal production systems in the tropic [3, 6, 9, 10].
White mulberry production represents a profitable
option for producers in bovine feeding due to its low
cost, high adaptability, high forage production and
appropriate nutritious levels [9]. Also, the high
consumption of this plant by the animals and the
excellent organoleptic characteristics make the white
mulberry easy to use in protein banks and nutritional
blocks as an option for ruminants feeding [4, 11].
Research of dietary supplements has been mainly
directed to the use of nutritional ingredients that
establish a better ruminal function, leading a balance
in the degradation of fibrous nourishment and nutrient
and energy intake [4, 9]. White mulberry forage has
been shown to have an elevated digest index (90%),
which imply the effectiveness of this plant as a
supplement [3, 9, 12].
In this study, white mulberry forage has been added
as an ingredient in a nutritional block and evaluated
on the weight gain of growing calves, to be
implemented as a common ingredient to producers on
the North zone of Veracruz, Mexico.
White Mulberry (Morus alba) Foliage as a Feeding Supplement for Growing Calves
2. Materials and Methods
The study was conducted on the North of the state
of Veracruz, Mexico, in Tuxpan city (20°5746 North
latitude and 97°2401 West longitude and altitude 10
m). The average ambient temperature was 24 °C. For
a period of 90 d, which covered the dry season (March
to May), when shortage of forage occurs, 45 Zebu ×
Swiss growing calves (average weight of 200 kg) were
randomly organized into three groups of 15 animals,
and each group was fed according to the next
treatments: grazing animals without nutritional block
(T0), grazing animals plus a nutritious block with
white mulberry (T1) and grazing animals plus a
nutritious block without white mulberry (T2).
Blocks production procedure was made in four
successive and continuous phases: raw material
preparation, mixing, compression and drying [13, 14].
The white mulberry (Morus alba) leaves and stems,
grounded corn, liquid molasses, tedded pasture,
calcium oxide and mineral salts were used in ration
formulation (Table 1).
Average percentage of pasture bromatological
composition (Table 2) and percent composition of
nutritional blocks (Table 3) were determined in the
Bromatology Laboratory in the School of Biological
and Agricultural Sciences from University of
Veracruz. Dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), ether
extract (EE), crude ash (CA), crude fiber (CF),
nitrogen free extract (NFE), total digestible nutrients
(TDN) and metabolizable energy (ME) were estimated
by conventional methods [15].
Before the beginning of the experiment, calves were
given vitamins, mineral salts and water, de-wormed
and vaccinated. The animals rotate in a 20 ha
extension, divided in three equal pasturelands
established with Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon),
giant star grass (Cynodon pleystostachyus) and
seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), with a
rotational intensive system for 21 d.
Throughout the study, the percentage of animals
that bites or licks the fodder was monitored in the
groups T1 and T2, in which a nutritional block was
offered. Average block consumption per animal was
estimated every 5 d for treatment T1 and T2 according
to National Research Council (NRC) specifications
Data was processed in a statistical package SPSS
Table 1 Composition of nutritional blocks.
IngredientsPercent (%)
T1 T
White mulberry (Morus alba) leaves and stems 80 0
Ground corn 4 65
Liquid molasses 6 6
Tedded pasture 4 23
Calcium oxide 3 3
Pre-mix vitamins and minerals 3 3
Table 2 Average bromatological composition (%) of pasture.
Composition Bermuda grass
(Cynodon dactylon) Giant star grass
(Cynodon pleystostachyus) Seashore paspalum
(Paspalum vaginatum)
Dry matter 91.82% 94.26% 90.82%
Crude protein 5.10% 5.30% 5.00%
Ether extract 2.12% 1.34% 1.12%
Crude ash 4.22% 5.70% 6.50%
Crude fiber 32.00% 34.10% 31.40%
Nitrogen free extract 33.40% 37.75% 30.45%
Total digestible nutrients 45.03% 41.70% 41.50%
Metabolizable energy 12.97 kJ/kg 10.88 kJ/kg 12.55 kJ/kg
White Mulberry (Morus alba) Foliage as a Feeding Supplement for Growing Calves
Table 3 Nutritious analyses of nutritional block1.
CompositionQuantified values
T1 T
Dry matter 96.12% 94.10%
Crude protein 18.35% 10.43%
Ether extract 1.66% 2.22%
Crude ash 21.69% 22.34%
Crude fiber 13.58% 16.43%
Nitrogen free extract 54.33% 62.26%
Total digestible nutrients 73.38% 73.64%
Metabolizable energy 12.59 kJ/kg 13.05 kJ/kg
1 Blocks were not prepared as isonitrogenous.
Table 4 Weight gain in supplemented calves with white mulberry(Morus alba) during 90 d.
Indicator T0 T
1 T
Initial average weight (kg) 200 210 212
Final average weight (kg) 270a 294
Average weight gain/animal (kg) 70a 84
Weight gain/day (kg) 0.777a 0.933
Block consumption/animal/day (kg) - 0.545
Different letters in a row indicate significant differences (P 0.05).
version 10 by one-way analysis of variance (one-way
ANOVA) and the differences between treatments
were detected by Duncan’s test. The significance level
was 0.05.
3. Results and Discussion
The crude protein content of grass (Cynodon
dactylon and Cynodon pleystostachyus) consumed by
the calves during the period of study varied between
5.0% and 5.3% (Table 2). Diets with low crude
protein forage (8% to 10%) can be a factor to decrease
voluntary consumption [17]. This nutrient fraction
limits the adequate feed conversion. Therefore, calves
from T0 treatment, in addition to having low
availability of forage, consumed grass of poor
nutritional quality, which was reflected in a small
increase in daily weight gain (Table 4).
The crude protein content of nutritional block with
white mulberry forage was determined as 18.35%.
The crude protein value in leaves can vary according
to the age of the sprout from 21.9% to 25.6%, and
stem from 7% to 11.25%, with a digestibility of over
80% [3].
The cattle presented an increase in weight gain (P <
0.05), when had a supplementation based on
nutritional blocks with adequate crude protein values
(Table 4) in comparison with the just pasture group
(T0), with an average daily weight gain of 0.933 kg for
T1 and 0.866 kg for T2, respectively. Weight gain
observed were similar to the ones obtained with
highly fertilized grass and diets of agro industries sub
products [16].
By the other hand, facing forage shortage, the
supplement does not replace forage, but it provides an
increased consumption of protein and energetic
nutrients. This is explained because facing a lower
availability of forage, the animal tend to cover its
requirements increasing the block consumption.
Regarding total consumption of the blocks (Table
4), there was an average daily consumption by animal
of 0.528 kg, this being similar to that reported
previously in Refs. [6, 7].
It was not observed any difference (P < 0.05) in
consumption of the block between treatment T1 with
white mulberry (0.545 kg/animal/day) and T2 without
white mulberry (0.510 kg/animal/day). Block
White Mulberry (Morus alba) Foliage as a Feeding Supplement for Growing Calves
consumption based on white mulberry forage was
larger than that reported by Vu et al. [18], who found
a consumption of 0.568 kg/animal/day, when adding
15% of white mulberry leaves to growing cattle’s diet.
Nutritional blocks constitute an alternate strategy of
nutritious supplements to ruminants, and besides, it
can be easily produced using the raw material from
the region [19]. White mulberry consumption can help
to have a better balance in carbohydrates and nitrogen
compounds in rumen [11] and can improve digestion
and the rumen’s fermentation [4].
Supplemented nourishment consumption can be very
variable. The causes of this variability are related with
several factors among others, such as, the
characteristics of used ingredients, toughness, humidity,
etc. [20]. In this work, it has been observed that
molasses affected the nutritional block’s consistency,
leading very tough blocks (avoiding to be consumed by
animals). The best results were presented when the
inclusion percentage of molasses was 6% (Table 1),
obtaining blocks with high softness, compressed form
and palatability for calves. Considering the way that
nutritional block was consumed by animal, it was found
that 81.6% of them bit the block, meanwhile the 18.4%
licked it. This is why toughness is fundamental to avoid
over-consumption. Fabrication process of the
nutritional blocks can impact directly in its toughness,
which can affect consumption [20] and weight gain in
calves of low pasture.
4. Conclusions
White mulberry constitutes a possibility for grazing
ruminants, not just during the restriction forage
periods but also as a support to supply fundamental
nutritious elements that can improve efficiency in
native forages consumption during relative abundance
periods. Nutritious block consumption with white
mulberry can guarantee the contribution of strategic
elements for ruminal function and reach an adequate
weight gain. It is easy to make it an alternative that
can be adopted easily by producers in tropic region.
Nevertheless, there has to be more researches, with the
objective of increasing nourishment consumption and
improving weight gain in pasture ruminants.
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[12] Kandylis, K., Hadjigeorgiou, I., and Harizanis, P. 2009.
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... their livestock: cattle [226], chicken [227], fi sh [228], sheep [229], pigs [230], and rabbits [231], and these are some of the recent and much selected examples. ...
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This study was designed to determine the effect of mulberry leaf pellets (MUP) on feed intake, digestibility and rumen fermentation in beef cattle. Four ruminal fistulated crossbred (Brahman x Thai native) beef cattle (420 +/- 15 kg) were randomly assigned according to a 4 x 4 Latin square design. The dietary treatments were as follows; T1 = 0 g MUP/day; 12 = 200 g MUP/day; T3 = 400 g MUP/day; and T4 = 600 g MUP/day. All animals were kept in individual pen and concentrate was offered at 5 g/kg of body weight (BW) daily. The experiment was conducted for four periods, and each period lasted for 21 days. During the first 14 days, all animals were fed with respective diets and rice straw was fed ad libitum. During the last 7 days, the animals were moved to metabolism crates for total urine and fecal collection. The results of this finding revealed that rice straw and total dry matter intakes were increased (P<0.05) when MUP was supplemented and the highest was with supplementation at 600 g MUP/day. Apparent digestibilities of dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (aNDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) were improved when increased level of MUP supplementation, especially at 600 g MUP/day (P<0.05). Moreover, supplementation of MUP has shown higher nitrogen balance than in control. Ruminal pH and temperature were not affected by MUP supplementation (P>0.05). In contrast, there was an increase of ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N) concentration as well as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) in the supplemented group. Moreover, total volatile fatty acid (TVFA), acetate (C2), butyrate (C4) concentration and acetate to propionate (C2:C3) ratio were linearly increased when increasing level of MUP supplementation (P<0.05) while no change in propionate (C3) concentration was found. Based on this result, it could be concluded that MUP can be used as a good protein source to improve rumen fermentation, nutrient digestibility and ruminants' productivity. It is recommended to supplement MUP at 600 g/day for cattle fed on low-quality roughages such as rice straw.
Effect of Hay or Grazing Time on Milk Production in Cows
  • M Esperance
  • J Figueroa
Esperance, M., and Figueroa, J. 2008. "Effect of Hay or Grazing Time on Milk Production in Cows." Cuban J. Agr. Sci. 12 (8): 131-8.
Forage Mulberry (Morus alba) as a Supplement in Diets for Calves Grazing
  • M Velazquez
  • M A Gutierrez
  • R Arias
  • T C Rodriguez
Velazquez, M., Gutierrez, M. A., Arias, R., and Rodriguez, T. C. 2004. "Forage Mulberry (Morus alba) as a Supplement in Diets for Calves Grazing." Cuban J. Agr. Sci. 12 (2): 131-5.