An evaluation of Tithonia diversifolia and Sapium ellipticum as supplement fodder for Ruminants
Studies were carried out to investigate the potential of Tithonia diversifolia (Tithonia) and Sapium ellipticum (Sapium), local livestock fodder species, grown in Eastern, Central, Coastal and Western provinces of Kenya. Fodder from the two species was harvested, dried into hay under shade and their nutritional potential assessed at the KARl Regional Centre, Embu, Kenya. The effects of shade and sun on stem height, leaf to stem ratio and dry matter yields (Biomass production) of the two fodder species was determined. Dry matter yields for Tithonia at different cutting intervals ranged from 5.9 to 58.9 tonnes/ha for plots under the shade and from 3.3 to 88.4 tonnes/ha for plots under the sun. Tithonia stem height ranged from 13.40 to 80.63 centimeters at cutting intervals of 4 to 10 weeks. The dry matter yields for Sapium was from 0.5, 0.5, and 0.6 to 0.7 tonnes/Ha at the cutting of 7 9, 11 and 13 weeks, while the twigs strippings lengths ranged from 42.8 to 86.5 centimeters at the same cutting intervals. Tithonia had higher dry matter yields than Sapium (p<0.05) over time. The Dry matter intake of Sapium by sheep was higher (p<0.05) than of Tithonia. Tithonia had higher Crude protein, ADF and Ash levels than Sapium but lower NDF (p<0.05). Results indicated that sheep preferred wilted napier grass, Sapium and Tithonia in a decreasing order. Intake decreased with substitution of napier grass fodder with either Tithonia and Sapium hays. Digestibility decreased with increased level of inclusion of Sapium and Tithonia fodder while increased Tithonia forage in the diet significantly improved Nitrogen balance in sheep. Diets containing 25% Ti thonia had the highest intake with O. 6kg/Dm while diets 75% Sapium had the least intake with O.4kg/Dm per sheep per day. This led to the conclusion that Ti thonia and Sapium are useful supplements for napier in ruminant feeding during the dry season.