Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: FORAGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SMALL-SCALE RUMINANT PRODUCTION IN THE APPALACHIAN REGION Title: Nutritive value of bamboo as browse for livestock

Authors
item Halvorson, Jonathan
item Cassida, Kimberly
item Turner, Kenneth
item Belesky, David

Submitted to: Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 11, 2010
Publication Date: January 2, 2011
Citation: Halvorson, J.J., Cassida, K.A., Turner, K.E., Belesky, D.P. 2011. Nutritive value of bamboo as browse for livestock. Renewable Agriculture and Food System. 26(2):161-170.

Interpretive Summary: Small farms in Appalachia need management options that diversify income opportunities; are adaptable to new livestock management strategies; and help maintain the environment. Plantings of temperate bamboo (large grasses), including some species native to West Virginia, were established to determine potential nutritive value for ruminants, such as goats, at different times of the year. The bamboo species we evaluated were able to withstand Appalachian winter temperatures and retain some green leaves even in late winter. Nutritive value was generally comparable among species and exhibited similar trends over the season. Soluble sugars in bamboo leaves decreased throughout the growing season, then remained stable or increased during winter. Conversely, crude protein was relatively low in young leaves compared to late season or over-wintered leaves. The nutritive value of bamboo leaves was sufficient to meet maintenance needs of adult goats. The ability of bamboo to remain green and maintain nutritive value throughout the winter suggested it has potential as winter forage for goats in central Appalachia. This information, useful to small farm producers and forage researchers, will benefit American agriculture as perennial stands of temperate bamboo could prove to be a valuable, multiple-use crop, easily adaptable to goat production systems.

Technical Abstract: Small farms in Appalachia need management options that diversify income opportunities; are adaptable to new livestock management strategies; and help maintain environmental integrity. Plantings of temperate bamboo (Poaceae), including species native to West Virginia, were established to determine potential nutritive value for small ruminants, such as goats (Capra hircus), at different times of the year. The bamboo species we evaluated, including several Phyllostachys spp., Semiarundiaria fastuosa, and Arundinaria gigantea, were able to withstand Appalachian winter temperatures and retain some green leaves even in late winter. Although small differences were evident, nutritive value was generally comparable among species and exhibited similar trends over the season. Total nonstructural carbohydrates in bamboo leaves decreased throughout the growing season, then remained stable or increased during winter. Conversely, crude protein was relatively low in young leaves compared to late season or over-wintered leaves. Concentrations of fiber and protein were sufficient to meet maintenance needs of adult goats. The ability of bamboo to remain green and maintain nutritive value throughout the winter suggested it has potential as winter forage for goats in central Appalachia. As an upright browse, bamboo may reduce the exposure of goats to gastrointestinal parasites. Perennial stands of temperate bamboo could prove to be a valuable, multiple-use crop suitable for Appalachian farm operations and easily adaptable to goat production systems.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page