Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Partial or total replacement of commercial concentrate with on-farm-grown mulberry forage: effects on lamb growth and feeding costs


Replacing commercial concentrate with mulberry foliage was evaluated in a feeding trial lasting 126 days. Forty-eight weaned male Pelibuey lambs (20.6 ± 0.80 kg of BW) were randomly allocated to four groups: (1) supplementing the basal diet with mulberry at 1% (DM basis; M-1), (2) mulberry at 0.75% plus 0.1 kg concentrate fresh matter basis (M-0.75), (3) mulberry at 0.50% plus 0.2 kg concentrate (M-0.50) and (4) basal diet plus 0.3 kg concentrate (control; M-0). During the first 90 days, the basal diet was Pennisetum purpureum forage which was substituted by a mixture of guinea grass and sugarcane from 90 days. Average daily gain (ADG, g/day), dry matter intake (DMI) and feed conversion rate (FCR; DMI/ADG) were determined. The ADG was affected (P < 0.01) by the diet, with the lowest obtained in M-1 lambs (71 ± 6.4 g/day), whereas no differences among the other groups were observed (94 ± 6.4 g DM/lamb). The DMI was higher (P < 0.01) in M-0 (937 g DM/lamb) which concomitantly affected differences in FCR (11.9, 9.9, 10.5 and 9.7 kg DMI/kg BW gain for M-1, M-0.75, M-0.50 and M-0 lambs, respectively). Final BW at slaughtering and hot or cold carcass yields were coherent with growth rate findings. Biological yield (cold carcass weight/empty BW) was higher (P < 0.01) in M-0.75. Without compromising animal productivity, replacing imported concentrate with mulberry reduced the feeding cost. Optimum results were obtained with M-75 diet. Further studies must be conducted for optimizing energy/protein ratios with different ingredients while increasing DMI and lamb growth rates in this tropical genotype.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Albuerne, R., Delgado, A., Perón, N., Perera, A., 1996. Suplementación con caña de azúcar y urea para la ceba de corderos. Revista de Reproducción Animal, 22, 37–43.

  2. Anindo D., Toé F., Tembely S., Mukasa-Mugerwa E., Lahlou-Kassi A., Sovani S., 1998. Effect of molasses-urea-block (MUB) on dry matter intake, growth, reproductive performance and control of gastrointestinal nematode infection of grazing Menz ram lambs. Small Ruminant Research, 27, 63–71.

  3. Archimède, H., Pellonde, P., Despois, P., Etienne, T., Alexandre, G., 2008. Growth performances and carcass traits of Ovin Martinik lambs fed various ratios of tropical forage to concentrate under intensive conditions. Small Ruminant Research, 75(2–3), 162–170.

  4. Association of Official Analytical Chemists, 1990. Official Methods of Analysis. 15th ed. AOAC, Arlington, VA.

  5. Borroto A., Molina A., Mesa M., Baéz I., Pérez C., 1991. Sistema de ceba ovina con subproductos agrícolas de cítricos. Revista de Producción Animal, 6(1), 11–17.

  6. Borroto, A., Mazorra, C.A., Pérez, R., Fontes, D., Borroto, M., Cubillas, N., Gutiérrez, I., 2007. La potencialidad alimentaria y los sistemas de producción ovina para una finca citrícola en Cuba. Revista Cubana de Ciencia Agrícola, 41, 3–12.

  7. Cáceres, O., Ojeda, F., González, E., Arece, J., Simón, L., Lamela, L., Milera, M., Iglesias, J.M., Esperance, M., Montejo, I.L. and Soca, M., 2002. Valor nutritivo de recursos forrajeros tropicales para los rumiantes. [cd-rom]. Tablas de valor nutritivo. EEPF “Indio Hatuey”. Matanzas, Cuba.

  8. Doran, M.P., Laca, E.A., Sainz, R.D., 2007. Total tract and rumen digestibility of mulberry foliage (Morus alba), alfalfa hay and oat hay in sheep. Animal Feed Sciences and Technology, 138, 239–253.

  9. FAOSTAT, 2015. FAO Statistical database. Production and live animals stocks sheet. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Statistical databases. Retrieved July, 2015 from http://faostat3.fao.org/download/Q/QA/E

  10. Fonseca, N., 2003. Contribución al estudio de la alimentación del ovino Pelibuey en Cuba. PhD Thesis, University of Granma (Bayamo, Cuba) and Institute of Animal Science (Havane, Cuba), http://www.bibliociencias.cu/gsdl/collect/tesis/index/assoc/HASHf108.dir/doc.pdf (accessed 21.03.2014).

  11. Fonseca, N., Miranda, O., Costa, P., La O, M., Ponce, I., 2011. Productive behaviour of the ovine Pelibuey in the stage of growth-bait. Revista Electrónica Granma Ciencia, 15, 1–6, http://www.grciencia.granma.inf.cu/2011_15_n1_a14.html

  12. González, E. Ortega, M., Arece, J., Cáceres, O., 2001. Efecto de diferentes niveles de morera (Morus alba) en el consumo y el crecimiento de cabritas destetadas. Pastos y Forrajes, 24, 347–352.

  13. González-García, E. and Martín Martín, G., 2016. Biomass yield and nutrient content of a tropical mulberry forage bank: effects of season, harvest frequency and fertilisation rate. Grass and Forage Science, (Online DOI: 10.1111/gfs.12227).

  14. González-García, E., Arece, J., Archimède, H., Gomarín, P.P., Cáceres, O., 2008. Productive response of tropical lambs reared in two contrasting management systems after weaning and using woody forage species. Livestock ResEarch for Rural Development Volume 20, Article #185. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd20/11/gonz20185.htm

  15. Herrera, J., Jordán, H., Senra, A.F., 2010. Management and feeding aspects of the Pelibuey sheep breeder in Cuba. Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 44(3), 205–213.

  16. Kadim, I. T., Mahgoub, O., Al-Ajmi, D.S., Al-Maqbaly, R.S., Al-Saqri, N.M., Ritchie, A., 2004. An evaluation of the growth, carcass and meat quality characteristics of Omani goat breeds. Meat Science, 66(1), 203–210.

  17. Kandylis, K., Hadjigeorgiou, I., Harizanis, P., 2009. The nutritive value of mulberry leaves (Morus alba) as a feed supplemented for sheep. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 41, 17–24.

  18. Leyva, C., Ortiz, A., Valdivié, M., 2007. Sustainable production of sheep meat from the fruit and leaf meal of the breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis). Pastos y Forrajes, 30, 373–380.

  19. Marshall, W., Bertot, J.A., Delgado, A., Collantes, M., Corchado, A., 2001. Productive performance and characteristics of the carcass of Pelibuey lambs fed with hay and supplemented with soybean meal and chicken dung. Revista de Producción AnimAl, 13, 43–47, http://www.reduc.edu.cu/147/01/2/14701209.pdf (accessed 13.05.2014).

  20. Martín, G.J., Noda, Y., Pentón, G., García, D.E., García, F., González, E., Ojeda, F., Milera, M., Lopez, O., Ly, J., Leiva, L., Arece, J., 2007. Mulberry (Morus alba, Linn.): a species of interest for livestock production. Pastos y Forrajes, 30, 3–19.

  21. Mazorra, C., Borges, G., Blanco, M., Marrero, P., Borroto, A., Sorís, A.L., 2003. Influencia de la adaptación al ambiente de pastoreo en la conducta de ovinos integrados a plantaciones citrícolas. Zootecnia Tropical, 21(1), 57–71.

  22. Mazorra, C., Blanco, M., Barrabí, M., 2004. Influencia de la suplementación con hollejo de cítrico sobre el comportamiento en pastoreo de ovinos en crecimiento integrados a plantaciones citrícolas durante la época lluviosa. Zootecnia Tropical, 22(4) Retrieved July 1st, 2015, from http://www.scielo.org.ve/scielo.php?pid=S0798-72692004000400004&script=sci_arttext.

  23. McAllister, T.A., Bae, H.D., Jones, G.A., Cheng, K.J., 1994. Microbial attachment and feed digestion in the rumen. Journal of Animal Science, 72, 3004–3018.

  24. Nguyen, X.B., Giang, V.D., Ngoan, L.D., 2005. Ensiling of mulberry foliage (Morus alba) and the nutritive value of mulberry foliage silage for goats in central Vietnam. Livestock Research for Rural Development, 17, 1–9, http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd17/2/ba17015.htm (accessed 15.05.2014).

  25. Ortiz, A., Elías, A., Valdivié, M., 2009. Using different sources of chicken dung as supplement in fattening lambs at grazing. Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 43, 245–249.

  26. Pacheco, D., Lara, P.E., Sanginés, R., 2002. Different levels of mulberry (Morus alba) forage in the ration of fattening lambs. In Proceedings of V Internacional Workshop in Sylvopastoral Systems and First Regional Meeting on Mulberry, Experimental Station on Grass and Forages “Indio Hatuey”, Matanzas, Cuba.

  27. Pedraza, R.M., Mauriño, C., Gómez, J.E., Valdés, V., Chaviano, A., 1995. Alimentación post-destete de ovinos pelibuey con miel “B”, heno y mezclas basadas en derivados de la caña de azúcar. Livestock Research for Rural Development Volume 7(2), Article #185. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd7/2/10.htm

  28. Perera, A.J., Albuernez, R., 1993. Producción intensiva de carne ovina con miel/urea. Preceba y fraccionamiento del suplemento proteico. Revista de Producción Animal, 7(1–2), 5–8.

  29. Perón, N., 2009. Manual or production guide for the Pelibuey sheep in Cuba. Cuban Association of Animal Production (ACPA), Havana, Cuba.

  30. Pineda, J., Palma J.M., Haenlein G.F.W., Galina M.A., 1998. Fattening of Pelibuey hair sheep and crossbreds (Rambouillet-Dorset × Pelibuey) in the Mexican tropics. Small Ruminant Research, 27(3), 263–266.

  31. Priolo, A., Micol, D., Agabriel, J., 2001. Effects of grass feeding systems on ruminant meat colour and flavour. A review. Animal Research, 50, 185–200.

  32. Reyes, N., Rodríguez, R., Mendieta, B., Mejía, L., Mora, A., 2009. The effects of supplementing Moringa oleífera on productive performance of lambs fed a basal diet with guinea (Panicum maximun Jacq.) grass. La Calera, 9, 60–69, http://lacalera.una.edu.ni/index.php/calera/article/view/134/134 (accessed 13.04.2014).

  33. Ríos, L., Rondón, Z., Combellas, J., Álvarez, R., 2005. Using mulberry (Morus sp.) and mataratón (Gliricidia sepium) forages for substituting concentrates in growing labs diets. Zootecnia Tropical, 23, 49–60, http://www.scielo.org.ve/scielo.php?pid=S0798-72692005000100005&script=sci_arttext (accessed 18.06.2014).

  34. Salinas-Chavira, J., Castillo-Martínez, O., Ramirez-Bribiesca, J.E., Mellado, M., 2011. Effect of increasing levels of white mulberry leaves (Morus alba) on ruminal dry matter degradability in lambs. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 43(5), 995–999.

  35. SAS Statistical Analysis Systems Institute (SAS). Version 9.3. SAS language guide for personal computers. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc; 2003.

  36. Soca, M., Ojeda, F., García, D.E., Soca, M., 2010. Effects of feeding mulberry (Morus alba) forage on the productive and health indicators of grazing calves. Pastos y Forrajes, 33, 1–10.

  37. Suárez, B. J., Van Reenen, C.G., Beldman, G., Van Delen, J., Dijkstra, J., Gerrits, W.J., 2007. Effects of supplementing concentrates differing in carbohydrate composition in veal calf diets: I. Animal performance and rumen fermentation characteristics. Journal of Dairy Science, 89, 4365–4375.

  38. Suassuna, J.M.A., Santos, E.M., Silva de Oliveira, J., de Azevedo, P.S., de Sousa, W.H., Araujo Pinho, R.M., de Farias Ramos, J.P., Carvalho Bezerra, H.F., 2014. Carcass characteristics of lambs fed diets containing silage of different genotypes of sorghum. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 43, 80–85,

  39. Van Soest, P.J., Robertson, J.B., Lewis, B.A., 1991. Methods for dietary fiber, neutral detergent fiber and nonstarch polysaccharides in relation to animal nutrition. Journal of Dairy Science, 74, 3583–3597.

  40. Vargas, S., Franco, R., Suárez, D., Quiñones, R., Ríos, L., Artiles, J., 2002. Comportamiento productivo de ovinos mestizos Pelibuey en crecimiento, utilizando dos niveles de morera (Morus alba) y CT-115 (hierba elefante cubana) como forraje base. In Proceedings of V Internacional Workshop in Sylvopastoral Systems and First Regional Meeting on Mulberry, Experimental Station on Grass and Forages “Indio Hatuey”, Matanzas, Cuba.

Download references


The authors acknowledge the Ministry of Science and Technology (Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, MICIT) and the National Board of Scientific Researches (Consejo Nacional para Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, CONICIT) of Costa Rica for their financial support. Researches were supported by a National Research Project of the Human Food Program of Cuba (PH131LH-0072). The authors give thanks also to the anonymous reviewers which contributed to improve the quality of the manuscript with their helpful comments, remarks and recommendations.

Author information

Correspondence to E. González-García.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Alpízar-Naranjo, A., Arece-García, J., Esperance, M. et al. Partial or total replacement of commercial concentrate with on-farm-grown mulberry forage: effects on lamb growth and feeding costs. Trop Anim Health Prod 49, 537–546 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-017-1225-8

Download citation


  • Growth
  • Tropical lambs
  • Mulberry forage supplementation
  • Concentrate substitution