Livestock Research for Rural Development 19 (6) 2007 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Nutritional potential of Blighia sapida K Konig (Ackee ackee) leaves as a dry season feed resource for West African dwarf goats in the derived savanna zone of Nigeria

O A Aderinola, G O Farinu, J A Akinlade, T B Olayeni, O O Ojebiyi and P O Ogunniyi

Department of Animal Production and Health, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, P.M.B. 4000, Ogbomoso, Nigeria



A feeding trial to evaluate the potential of Blighia sapida K Konig leaves as a dry season feed resource for West African Dwarf goat in the derived savanna zone of Nigeria was carried out. Twenty WAD bucks of comparable age and weight were randomly assigned to five treatment groups of Blighia sapida K Konig: Cynodon dactylon diet in ratio 100:0; 75: 25; 50:50; 25: 75 and 0:100 respectively and each treatment was replicated four times. Data were collected on feed intake and nutrient digestibility and analyzed in a completely randomized design.

Feed intake and nutrient digestibility differed significantly (P<0.05) among treatments. In the parameters measured. 100:0 Bligha sapida: Cynodon dactylon had the highest value followed by Bs. 75:Cd25.

It was concluded based on feed intake and digestibility data that Bligha sapida K Konig leaves could be a very good feed resource for West African Dwarf goats especially in the dry season.

Key words: Bligha sapida  leaves, Cynodon dactylon, feed intake, nutrient digestibility, WAD goat


Dry season remains a critical period for successful keeping of small ruminants in the derived savannah zone of Nigeria, hence the use of multipurpose trees (MPTs) and legumes as reliable sources of dry season feeds (Kang'ara et al 1998). A lot of indigenous MPT  exist in the humid zone and some of them are currently being used by smallholder sheep and goat farmers in a cut and carry system of husbandry to sustain their animals especially during the dry season (Oji and Ndiomu 2002).

Efforts have been made in evaluating their suitability as animal feeds (Mohammed and Abdullahi 2001, Oji and Ndiomu 2002). The ability of browse trees to conserve nutrients for a longer time particularly in the dry season is well known. Browse plants contain higher levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals than grasses and crop residues (Bonsi et al 1994). Some of the well known existing browse plants are Leucaena leucocephala and Gliricidia sepium.

The potential of Blighiasapida K Konig leaves for livestock production is yet to be exploited in Nigeria. There is paucity of information especially on its nutritional composition as a forage crop for ruminant animals in the derived savannah zone of Nigeria. Blighia sapida, commonly referred to as Ackee ackee or vegetable brain and locally as "Isin", is an evergreen tree more widely known for the edible part of its fruit. It belongs to the family Sapindaceae and grows to a height of 10 to12m at maturity. It has a trunk of up to 1.8m in circumference and a dense crown of spreading branches. The leaves (Photo 1) are compound with 3-5 pairs of oblong, obovate-oblong or elliptic leaflets of 1.5-3.0cm long and round at the base. It is usually planted as a shade tree. Its fruit is relished by humans and the leaves are eaten by ruminants. Ackee ackee is well known for their poisonous unripe aril that contains hypoglycin A, a water-soluble liver toxin that inhibits gluconeogenesis thus leading to hypoglycemia. However, on exposure to sun as the fruit ripens and splits, the concentration of the toxin falls rapidly to a tolerable level for humans, and the fruit is then boiled or consumed fresh. It is very likely that the leaves contain little or none of this toxic substance since they are always exposed to light and animals are usually seen picking or browsing on the plant. There is however paucity of information on the utilization of Blighia sapida leaves by animals.

Photo 1: Foliage and fruits of Blighia sapida

The objectives of this study were to determine the proximate composition of Ackee (Blighia sapida) leaves and to determine their digestibility in West African Dwarf goats when fed with different proportions of Cynodon dactylon grass.

Materials and methods

The trial was carried out in the dry season at the sheep and goat unit of the Teaching and Research farm of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso located in the derived savannah zone of Nigeria.

Animals and their management

Twenty male yearling West African dwarf goats with an initial mean weight of 12±1.2kg were used. They were sourced from local markets. A few days prior to the arrival of the animal, the pens and surroundings were cleaned, washed and disinfected with "Iodophor" solution. The floor was covered with bedding. On arrival, animals were treated against internal and external parasites using "Ivomectin" and were later injected with broad-spectrum antibiotics on the 1st and 3rd weeks of quarantine. Fresh water was provided ad-libitum. The goats were later housed in metabolism cages for collection of  faecal samples. The treatments are indicated in Table 1.

Table 1.  The different treatments


Blighia sapida

Cynodon dactylon
















Blighia sapida branches were harvested from trees located within the teaching and research farm while Cynodon dactylon was harvested from the established pasture plots every morning. B. sapida branches were cut and spread on a concrete floor under the shade and left over-night for about 24h to wilt. Leaves were then stripped from the branches, leaving the stalk on the stem.   Fresh Cynodom dactylon   was manually harvested daily, chopped by hand into 3-5cm lengths and thoroughly mixed with wilted leaves of B. sapida in varying proportions before feeding.

The feeding level was set at 3% of body weight (DM basis); the calculated proportions of the forages were chopped and mixed together before being offered in a trough. Feed offered and refusals were weighed daily The experiment involved an initial period of 14 days to allow the animals to adjust to confinement and the diet, followed by a collection period of 7 days. Total daily faecal output was  measured for each animal and a 10% sample taken and dried to a constant weight in an oven at 105 0C to determine dry matter content.

Chemical analysis

The dried samples were milled and sieved through a 1.0 mm sieve for determination of nitrogen, crude fibre, ether extract and ash. The nitrogen content was determined using Khjeldal apparatus and the CF, EE and Ash by AOAC methods (AOAC 1990).

Statistical analysis

The data were subjected to analysis of variance (SAS 1999) using a completely randomized design (CRD). Means for significant effects were separated using the Duncan (1955) multiple range test.

Results and discussion

The crude protein content of Blighia sapida leaves was similar to the crude protein in leaves of Gliricidia sepium (Abdulrazak et al 1997) and Leucaena leucocephala (Vierre and Van 1982) (Table 2). The crude fibre content was low and only half of that in the grass. 

Table 2.  Effect of inclusion levels of Blighia sapida leaves on the chemical composition of experimental diets







Dry Matter






Crude Protein






Crude Fibre






Intakes of DM and crude protein decreased as the Blighia sapida leaves were replaced by the grass (Table 3). Apparent digestibility coefficients showed a similar trend apart from crude fibre which increased with increasing level of the grass. 

Table 3.  Mean values of intake of DM and crude protein and apparent  digestibility (%) of DM, crude protein and crude fibre by WAD goats fed graded levels of BS leaves and CD








Feed intake, g/day



















Apparent digestibility, %


























a,b,c, d, Means along the same row with different superscripts are different at P<0.05

The results of this study indicate that the leaves of Blighia sapida are readily consumed by goats and that the DM and crude protein are highly digestible. There were no advantages in introducing  Cynodon dactylon grass as partial or complete replacement of the leaves since this decreased the intake of crude protein and of DM. It is well known that crude protein intake and DM intake and digestibility are positively related (Smith and Van Houtert 1987).

The low nutrient intake recorded for B25C75 diet might be due to the higher percentage of Cynodondactylon in the diet. The high CF content of Cynodon dactylon could be attributed to cell wall lignification, which increases as plant matures, or water stress factor, which was applicable to Cynodon dactylon during the experimental period.

This led to the low digestibility value recorded for the experimental diet with decrease in proportion of Blighia sapida k konig leaves and increasing proportion of Cynodon dactylon. Cynodon dactylon was observed to contain higher CF than Blighiasapida k konig and low CP than Blighia sapida.

The high nutrient digestibility coefficient values recorded for diets containing BS was consistent with the observation of Aye (2002) that fodder trees degrade fairly well rapidly in the rumen and are well digested post ruminal, often at a higher level than tropical grasses.



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Received 22 July 2006; Accepted 21 December 2006; Published 4 June 2007

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