Mulberry leaves double Napier grass's protein intake

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A straw­berry farmer, who sells mul­berry leaves for thera­peutic use, dis­plays her product at the Nairobi In­ter­na­tional Ag­ri­cul­tural So­ci­ety of Kenya Show on Oc­to­ber 8,2016.​Mulberry leaves offer double pro­teins to an­im­als than com­mon Napier grass.  PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

Farm­ers grow­ing mul­berry fod­der offer double pro­teins to live­stock than those re­ly­ing on most Napier grass vari­et­ies, which have failed to boost milk pro­duc­tion des­pite the amounts served.

In­creased pro­tein ra­tion in dairy cows and goats, lay­ers and broil­ers among other live­stock boosts yields, given that the body build­ing nu­tri­ents are core in the form­a­tion of milk, eggs and meat.

Al­though it may re­quire more time to re­gen­er­ate after har­vest­ing moreso dur­ing dry spells, mul­berry leaves offer life between 15 per cent and 25 per cent pro­teins.

Apart from the new giant Napier grass from Kenya Ag­ri­cul­tural and Live­stock Re­search Or­gan­isa­tion, KALRO, other vari­et­ies offer between seven per cent and eight per cent crude pro­teins to live­stock.

The KALRO giant vari­ety has a pro­tein con­tent of up to 26 per cent.

Be­sides hav­ing a di­gest­ib­il­ity of up to 80kg for every 100kg, an­im­als ‘love’ it.

“One of the main fea­tures of mul­berry as a for­age, it is highly pal­at­able. An­im­als con­sume the leaves avidly. They often prefer mul­berry to other for­ages when they are offered sim­ul­tan­eously. The an­im­als even dig through a pile of leaves in search of mul­berry twigs,” Charles Wam­bugu and other au­thors say in a Fod­der Shrubs for Dairy Farm­ers in East Africa manual.

Low di­gest­ib­il­ity makes mul­berry the best feed for silk­worms and rab­bits, which do not have fibre-di­gest­ing mi­cro-or­gan­isms-bac­teria- like other ru­min­ants.

The fod­der is man­aged as a hedge, there­fore, it should be cut at a height of between half a metre and one metre above the ground for max­imum leaves yields. On wet sea­son, leaves can be har­ves­ted after 60 days.

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If one can­not have a pure stand of mul­berry, they can be grown along the bound­ar­ies or as or­na­mental homestead shades.

The leaves are also dried and used for thera­peut­ics while fruits are sold raw or used in fla­vour­ing food.

Mul­berry es­tab­lish­ment is done using sticks or seeds.