Buffer nitrogen solubility, in vitro ruminal partitioning of nitrogen and in vitro ruminal biological activity of tannins in leaves of four fodder tree species
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This study explores the chemical composition, buffer N solubility, in vitro ruminal N degradability and in vitro ruminal biological activity of tannins in leaves from Gliricidia sepium, Leucaena leucocephala, Morus alba and Trichanthera gigantea trees. These tree leaves are a potential protein source for ruminants, but their site-influenced nutritive value is largely unknown. Leucaena leucocephala leaves had the highest N content (42.1 g/kg DM), while T. gigantea leaves had the least (26.1 g/kg DM). Leucaena leucocephala had the highest buffer solubility index (20%), while 10% of the total N in leaves of the other three species was soluble. The rapidly fermentable N fraction ‘a’ was highest in M. alba leaves (734.9 g/kg DM) and least in T. gigantea leaves (139.5 g/kg DM). The rate of fermentation (c) was highest for M. alba (7%/hours) leaves. No significant correlations were recorded between buffer solubility index of N and in vitro ruminal N degradability parameters: a, b, and c. The highest response to tannin inactivation using polyethylene glycol, in terms of percentage increase in 36-hours cumulative gas production, was recorded in M. alba (39%) and T. gigantea (38%) leaves. It was concluded that buffer solubility of N is not a good indicator of ruminal N degradation in the leaves of these tree species. Leaves of M. alba could be more valuable as a source of rapidly fermentable N when animals are offered low-protein, high-fibre diets compared with other tree species evaluated in the current study. However, when feeding M. alba leaves, the role of tannins must be considered because these secondary plant compounds showed significant in vitro ruminal biological activity.