Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 511–517 | Cite as

Feed intake and utilization in sheep fed graded levels of dried moringa (Moringa stenopetala) leaf as a supplement to Rhodes grass hay

  • Feleke Gebregiorgis
  • Tegene Negesse
  • Ajebu NurfetaEmail author
Original Research


The effects of feeding graded levels of dried moringa (Moringa stenopetala) leaf on intake, body weight gain (BWG), digestibility and nitrogen utilization were studied using male sheep (BW of 13.8 ± 0.12 kg). Six sheep were randomly allocated to each of the four treatment diets: Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) hay offered ad libitum (T1), hay + 150 g moringa leaf (T2), hay + 300 g moringa leaf (T3), hay + 450 g moringa leaf (T4) were offered daily. A 7-day digestibility trial and an 84-day growth experiments were conducted. Dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM) and crude protein (CP) intakes increased (P < 0.05) with increasing levels of moringa leaf in the diets. Sheep fed T2, T3 and T4 diets gained (P < 0.05) 40.2, 79.1 and 110.1 g/head/day, respectively, while the control group (T1) lost weight (−13.3 g/head/day). The apparent digestibilities of DM, OM, neutral detergent fibre and acid detergent fibre were similar (P > 0.05) among treatments. The digestibility of dietary CP increased (P < 0.05) with increasing levels of moringa leaf, but there was no significant difference between T2 and T3 diets. The nitrogen (N) intake and urinary N excretion increased (P < 0.05) with increasing levels of moringa leaf. The N retention was highest (P < 0.05) for 450 g moringa leaf supplementation. The control group was in a negative N balance. Supplementing a basal diet of Rhodes grass hay with dried moringa leaves improved DM intake, BWG and N retention. It is concluded that M. stenopetala can serve as a protein supplement to low-quality grass during the dry season under smallholder sheep production system.


Moringa stenopetala Supplementation Intake Nutrient utilization Sheep 



The Food Security Center, University of Hohenheim, Germany is appreciated for allowing a postdoctoral research fund during the writing of this manuscript for the corresponding author. We are thankful to Professor Dr. Markus Rodehutscord for his comments during manuscript preparation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feleke Gebregiorgis
    • 1
  • Tegene Negesse
    • 1
  • Ajebu Nurfeta
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Range Sciences, College of AgricultureHawassa UniversityHawassaEthiopia

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