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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Phillips, William
item Rao, Srinivas
item Von Tungeln, David
item Fitch, Gerald

Submitted to: Professional Animal Scientist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) is a tropical plant grown primarily for use in the fiber industry. The leaves and immature stalk portions of the plant are high in protein and low in fiber and can comprise 40% of the total biomass. These parts are not used for fiber production, but the nutritional value of these components as well as whole plant in mature Kenaf as a feedstuff for livestock is not known. Lambs fed whole plant Kenaf readily consumed the leaves and immature stalks, but would not eat the fibrous mature stalk. Chopping the whole plant into smaller segments and allowing it to ferment into a silage was a more efficient means of utilizing the whole plant than feeding the fresh plant cut into long segments. Kenaf silage was as digestible as sorghum silage, which is widely used as a feedstuff. As a forage crop, Kenaf can be grown in almost any region of the United States, produce large quantities of biomass in a short period of time and when harvested at an earlier stage of maturity, can be used as a medium quality feedstuff with a substantial concentration of protein.

Technical Abstract: Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) can yield large quantities of biomass and has been used extensively as a source of fiber for the textile industry. Kenaf leaf and immature Kenaf stalk have little value as a fiber source, but have not been evaluated as a feedstuff for ruminants. Lambs were used in three experiments to determine the digestibility of Kenaf tops harvested from mature plants, whole plant Kenaf harvested fresh daily or whole plant Kena fed as a silage. Adding mature Kenaf tops at 10% of the diet decreased (P<.01) total ration fiber and N digestion, but the response was dependent upon the Kenaf variety used. Lambs would readily consume the leaf portion of freshly harvested whole plant Kenaf, but would not consume the fibrous stalk portions when Kenaf was the only dietary component. Dry matter digestibility of fresh whole plant Kenaf leaf and immature stalk was 70% and the N digestibility was 82%. Lambs consuming Kenaf silage had lower (P<.01) N retention values than lambs consuming sorghum silage, but N digestibility was higher (P<.01) for lambs fed the Kenaf silage. Kenaf can be fed to lambs as a freshly harvested or ensiled forage, but forage utilization will be better when fed as a silage. Kenaf could be used as a moderately digestible forage source for ruminants.

Last Modified: 05/23/2017
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