We continue to acquaint you with the study of foreign scientists who prove the usefulness and effectiveness of amaranth. Since the article “Amaranth silage efficiently and cheaply” aroused great interest among livestock breeders, we decided to consider how exactly this plant is used abroad when feeding animals.
We managed to find a unique material in which it was investigated exactly how corn-amaranth and amaranth silos affect West African sheep. It is clear that these pets are not grown in our country (at least we are not aware of such facts so far), but on the whole, the studies are quite indicative. After all, they give a lot of interesting and informative information. African sheep
This material, presented in translation and adaptation, was prepared by the Department of Livestock and Health, Ado-Ekiti University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria.
In turn, the University researchers cite many sources, including:
- Andrasofszky E, Szöcz Z, Fekete S and Jelenits K 1998 Evaluation of the value of the amaranth plant. (Evaluation of the nutritional value of amaranth plants);
- Cheeke P R and Bronson J 1980 Feeding trials with Amaranthus grain, forage and leaf protein concentrations. (Studies of feeding grain, fodder and amaranth leaves);
- Kadoshnikov S. I., Martirosyan D. M., Kadoshnikova I. G., Chernov I. A. Investigation of the use of silage of the plain and combined amaranth in ontogenesis. In: LEGACY. The official newsletter of the Amaranth Institute. Volume XIV, No. 1, 2001;
- and many others.
Introduction a common part
The dry season leads to a shortage of feed for ruminants in southwestern Nigeria. Yield and forage quality of tropical pastures decrease rapidly as the dry seasons approach, which leads to an insufficient supply of ruminants during this period.
Tropical grass silage is often of poor quality, and the level of animal production from these products cannot justify the effort and cost of maintaining tropical grass.
In order to obtain high animal productivity in the dry season, it is necessary to preserve feed with relatively high quality and high concentration of soluble carbohydrates.
Corn and amaranth feeds contain a relatively high concentration of soluble carbohydrates and provide high-quality biomass for a short period of time, which makes them attractive for growing hay and silage in tropical areas.
These fodder crops, grown on a small part of pastures and remaining for feeding during the dry season, can provide ruminant feed during this period.
Whole corn was widely used as a silage crop, both in temperate and tropical climates, due to its high biomass and high concentration of soluble carbohydrates. The main disadvantage of corn as feed for livestock is a low protein concentration – only 8-9%.
The potential of amaranth as feed for ruminants is that the crude protein concentration in amaranth feed ranges from 15-24%.
The quality of the protein of this plant is quite high. It is rich in lysine and sulfur-containing amino acids, which are not so much in cereals.
It is also believed that this plant has a high side protein, which is of great importance for the nutrition of ruminants. The concentration of protein, the overall quality of amaranth and its growing characteristics indicate that it can perfectly complement corn in traditional livestock systems in southwestern Nigeria.
However, the presence of anti-nutritional factors, such as oxalates, saponins, phenols, trypsin inhibitors and nitrates in some species of amaranth, is a limitation of its usefulness as feed for livestock. However, we are talking only about individual types of amaranth, and not about the plant as a whole.
The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of mixing amaranth with corn on the digestibility of the mixture, as well as how the use of such a silo will affect the growth of West African dwarf sheep raised in southwestern Nigeria.
Materials and research methods
This study was conducted on the research farm of Ado-Ekiti University, Nigeria, which is located in a tropical forest with a tropical climate with special wet and dry seasons, high temperatures and high humidity.
The average annual rainfall is 1367 mm and falls in 8 months (from April to November). The rainy season has two peaks – one in July, and the second in September with a dry period in August.
The average annual temperature is 27C and varies little throughout the year. The hottest months are February and March with an average temperature of 28C and 29C, respectively.
In these studies, many types of corn and grain amaranth were used, cultivated specifically for the production of feed.
Whole corn plants (leaves, stalks and cobs) and amaranth (leaves, stalks and seeds) were harvested 85 days after planting 15 cm above the ground. Collected feed was ground to about 3 cm.
Ground corn and amaranth were divided into three parts:
- the first part was sun dried;
- the second part was rooted;
- the last part (corn and amaranth) was mixed (in equal proportions – weight by weight), divided in half and dried in the sun or enhanced.
The feed was dried in the sun on plastic sheets and processed at least twice a day for 5-6 days and kept in feeding bags.
The silo was made by packing and pressing the feed into plastic drums of 120 l. The compressed mass was sealed with a plastic sheet, tamped with a bag of sand and covered with a plastic lid.
Animal Benefit Rating
The nutritional value of canned corn, amaranth and corn-amaranth feed for ruminants was evaluated in a study on the digestibility and rearing of animals using male sheep. Six experimental diets were used for this:
- sun-dried corn;
- sun-dried corn-amaranth mixture;
- sun-dried amaranth;
- fed corn;
- fed corn-amaranth mixture;
- fed amaranth.
Animals were divided into six groups according to their weight and randomly assigned each group one of six diets. Experimental diets have been offered for 14 days.
Scientists carried out the removal of indicators on several parameters – in particular, on the total volume of feed submitted, feed consumption, fecal release, refusal of feed, weight changes,
Also, scientists used certain coefficients, other measurements and indicators, including freshwater consumption, which made it possible to draw certain conclusions.
Researchers obtained a lot of data and compiled the corresponding tables. We will not dwell on all the results of research, but we will give you only basic data and indicators that will help you get a general picture.
So. The dry matter concentration was the same among the sun-dried feeds, but varied widely among the prepared feeds.
This is due to the large difference in the dry matter concentration of whole corn and amaranth feed.
Among the sun-dried feeds, the raw protein concentration was highest in amaranth, followed by a mixture of amaranth corn and the least in corn.
The texture of the dense corn was hard, and the amaranth or corn-amaranth mixtures were soft and moist. The release of liquid from the bulk mass in silos containing a mixture of amaranth and amaranth corn with excess liquid precipitation at the base of the silo was observed.
Although the liquid was not analyzed in this study, a high loss of protein mixed with amaranth or a corn-amaranth mixture suggests that solubility in nitrogen can be high in amaranth, and most of its protein can be lost to the separated liquid.
Further studies are needed to investigate this fact and the effect of increasing the dry matter concentration (wilt) on the texture and quality of amaranth silage.
Corn feeds had a higher fiber concentration than amaranth feeds, while mixed feeds were intermediate between corn and amaranth feeds.
The researchers also evaluated the digestibility of the three types of feed. And preference for their animals. It was found that corn fodder was better digested than amaranth. Sun-dried fodder was also better digested than silage.
The results of research conducted at the University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria, showed that despite the higher protein concentration in amaranth, corn feed was better digested by sheep than amaranth feed or their mixture with corn.
The dry matter consumption was the same among the sun-dried feeds, but higher in silage corn than in amaranth silage or corn amaranth mixture.
But the main conclusion of the research is: “Given the higher concentration of protein, amaranth has the potential to supplement corn as a dry feed for ruminants, if the factors that limit its use are eliminated.”
From our point of view, it is of the utmost importance what types of amaranth were investigated. After all, it is no secret that the forage varieties of amaranth in our country and in Africa are completely different. Therefore, this study should not be taken as the ultimate truth for our country, but, naturally, it provides some food for thought.