Submitted to: Proceedings of the Annual Appalachian Opportunities Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/17/2009
Publication Date: 7/27/2009
Citation: Morales, M.R., Foster, J.G., Vandevender, J. 2009. Potato Bean: Potential Forage/Dietary Supplement for Small Ruminants. In: Morales, M., editor. Improving Small Ruminant Grazing Practices, Proceedings of the Appalachian Small Ruminant Grazing Workshop, July 11, 2009, Beaver, WV. p. 47-52. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Potato bean (Apios americana Medikus) is a nitrogen-fixing, perennial, leguminous vine indigenous to the eastern half of the United States. This vine climbs on plants and objects making its foliage accessible to browsing animals. We have observed deer eating potato bean foliage. Both deer and goats are browsing ruminants that eat leaves and twigs of woody plants to obtain nutrients and beneficial secondary metabolites. By browsing elevated herbage, browsers avoid larvae of parasitic nematodes, such as Haemonchus contortus, that proliferate on forage near the soil surface. We investigated the yield and nutritional value of potato bean herbage, which is here reported for the first time. Forty Louisiana potato bean accessions were planted unreplicated at the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Center, Alderson, WV, on May 9, 2006. At harvest on Sep 22, 2006, plot herbage was weighed, oven-dried at 131°F, ground, and sent to Midwest Laboratories, Inc., Omaha, NE, for feed nutrient analysis. Herbage yields of the best accessions ranged from 2.7 to 3.6 tons/acre. Leaves had almost twice as much crude protein (19.7%) as stems (10.8%) but just 1.1% more than the whole plant (18.6%). Whole plant values for CP (18.6%), ADF (32%), NDF (40.7%), TDN (66.1%), NE-M (0.66 Mcal/lb), and NE-G (0.40 Mcal/lb) approximated those of early bloom alfalfa. The nutritional value of potato bean herbage suggest that it could be a useful component in the diet of browsing ruminants; however, slow establishment and growth on upland sites will not meet the needs of small ruminant producers.