Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 757–764 | Cite as

Rumen function in vivo and in vitro in sheep fed Leucaena leucocephala

  • Marcos Antonio Barros-RodríguezEmail author
  • Francisco Javier Solorio-Sánchez
  • Carlos Alfredo Sandoval-CastroEmail author
  • Athol Klieve
  • Rafael Antonio Rojas-Herrera
  • Eduardo Gaspar Briceño-Poot
  • Juan Carlos Ku-Vera
Regular Articles


The effect of Leucaena leucocephala inclusion in sheep diets upon rumen function was evaluated. Nine Pelibuey sheep, 32.6 ± 5.33 kg live weight (LW), fitted with rumen cannula were used. A complete randomized block design was employed. Two experimental periods of 60 days each, with 60-day intervals between them, were used. Experimental treatments were as follows (n = 6): T1 (control), 100 % Pennisetum purpureum grass; T2, 20 % L. leucocephala + 80 % P. purpureum; T3, 40 % L. leucocephala + 60 % P. purpureum. In situ rumen neutral detergent fiber (aNDF) and crude protein (CP) degradation, dry matter intake (DMI), volatile fatty acids (VFA) production, estimated methane (CH4) yield, rumen pH, ammonia nitrogen (N-NH3), and protozoa counts were measured. The aNDF in situ rumen degradation of P. purpureum and leucaena was higher (P < 0.05) in T2 and T3. Leucaena CP degradation was higher in T2 and T3 but for P. purpureum it was only significantly higher in T3. Leucaena aNDF and CP degradation rate (c) was 50 % higher (P < 0.05) in T2 and T3, but only higher in T3 for P. purpureum. Voluntary intake and rumen (N-NH3) was higher in T2 and T3 (P = 0.0001, P = 0.005, respectively). Molar VFA proportions were similar for all treatments (P > 0.05). Protozoa counts and in vitro gas production (48 h) were lower in T2 and T3 (P < 0.05, P < 0.0001). Estimated methane yield (mol CH4/day) was higher in sheep fed leucaena (P < 0.0001). However, CH4 yield relative to animal performance (mol CH4/g LW gain) was lower in T2 and T3 (P < 0.0001). In summary, these results indicate that including L. leucocephala in sheep diets did not modify rumen fermentation pattern (same VFA ratios) nor reduce the amount of CH4 per unit of DMI (mol CH4/g DMI). However, leucaena inclusion does increase rumen N-NH3, aNDF and CP digestibility, and voluntary intake.


Tropical fodder Sheep Intake Methane 



Acid detergent fiber


Crude protein




Digestible carbohydrate intake


Digestible organic matter intake


Dry matter


Dry matter intake


Gross energy




Live weight


Ammonia nitrogen


Neutral detergent fiber


Organic matter


Standard error of the mean




Volatile fatty acids



The authors thank the financial support from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT), Mexico (Project FORDECyT No. 117072), and the “Fundación Produce Michoacan,” Mexico. The senior author acknowledges CONACyT for a scholarship to undergo Ph.D. studies.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcos Antonio Barros-Rodríguez
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Francisco Javier Solorio-Sánchez
    • 1
  • Carlos Alfredo Sandoval-Castro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Athol Klieve
    • 2
  • Rafael Antonio Rojas-Herrera
    • 3
  • Eduardo Gaspar Briceño-Poot
    • 1
  • Juan Carlos Ku-Vera
    • 1
  1. 1.Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y ZootecniaUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMéxico
  2. 2.School of Agriculture and Food SciencesUniversity of QueenslandGattonAustralia
  3. 3.Facultad de Ingeniería QuímicaUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMéxico
  4. 4.Facultad de Ciencias AgropecuariasUniversidad Técnica de Ambato, Sector el Tambo-La Universidad, vía a QueroCevallosEcuador

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