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Effect of supplementing elephant grass with Gliricidia sepium, Lannea coromandelica and concentrate feed on Bali cattle performance

Muhammad Rusdy, Muhammad Hatta, Rinduwati, Sema1

Faculty of Animal Science, Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia
1 Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology, Faculty of Agriculture Universitas Puangrimaggalatung, Sengkang, Indonesia


The low quality of elephant grass makes supplementation with high quality feed is necessary. In this respect, locally available high-protein tree forages like Gliricidia sepium and Lannea coromandelica might be suitable used as supplement for cattle fed sole elephant grass. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of supplementing with Lannea coromandelica , Gliricidia sepium, mixture of Lannea coromandelica and Gliricidia sepium and concentrate feed on dry mater intake, digestibility and growth of Bali cattle fed elephant grass basal diets. The animals were assigned randomly with five experimental diets, i.e. 1 elephant grass 100%, 2.elephant grass 60% + Lannea coromandelica leaves 40%, 3 elephant grass 60% + Gliricidia sepium leaves 40%, 4 elephant grass 60% + Lannea coromandelica leaves 20% + Gliricidia sepium leaves 20% and 5 elephant grass 60% + concentrate feed 40% (dry matter basis). Results indicate that with respect of gain and efficiency of feed utilization, mixture of Lannea coromandelica leaves 20% + Gliricidia sepium leaves 20% and concentrate were the best supplement, followed by Gliricidia sepium 40% and Lannea coromandelica 40%. However, because of high prices of concentrate, mixture of Lannea coromandelica and Gliricidia sepium can be considered as the best supplement. It can be concluded that locally available tree forage of Lannea coromandeica and Gliricidia sepium can be used to replace concentrate supplement.for animals fed elephant grass basal diet.

Keywords: feeds, forages, mixture, tanine


In recent years, in Indonesia, there is a large gap between supply and demand of beef for domestic consumption. In 2017 to 2020, due to high demands relative to low supply of beef, the government of Indonesia had to import about 40% of her beef needs from foreign countries like Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. To alleviate the problem, the government has been promoting the development of cattle breeding to build a national herd, but until now, beef cattle productivity raised by the farmers is commonly low as affected of low growth rates, low reproductive rates, low fertility and high mortality rates, however, basically all these bad traits are stemmed largely from low availability of feeds, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

In the eastern parts of Indonesia, grassland is still a significant forage sources for livestock but seasonal availability and quality of natural grasses that comprise most forages limit their use as good forage for high producing livestock. Availability of forage in grassland is also aggravated by conversion of many grassland areas to cropping, plantation, industry and housing areas. Grassland degradation and invasion of pernicious weeds such as Chromolana odorata and Lantana camara as caused by overgrazing also causes reduced grassland productivity.

To overcome lack availability of feeds, the government has been promoting the farmers to plant and cultivate elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.). This grass is favored by the farmers because it is easily established, cultivated and harvested, has high yielding potential and wide adaptation to varied climatic and soil conditions. Now, this grass has been the most widely cultivated grass in Indonesia, both in grassland area and non-grassland area and mostly fed to cattle in the stall feeding system.

In South Sulawesi Indonesia, elephant grass also has been cultivated in a large parts of Maiwa Breeding Centre (MBC) area, a beef cattle breeder enterprise that owned by Faculty of Animal Science Hasanuddin University. This grass constitutes a large portion of feed fed to Bali cattle, an indigenous cattle raised in the MBC area. As the low productivity of animals fed on sole elephant grass (Muinga et al 1996; Antari et al 2014), MBC has produced concentrate and supplementing it to the cattle fed basal diet of elephant grass. During the dry season due to shortage of feed and high prices of concentrate, the cattle also fed natural grasses and leaves of hedge plants growing in inside and vicinity of MB area. One of those plants is Gliricidia sepium (hereafter is called Gliricidia), a legume tree plant that has proved as a good supplement for Bali cattle fed elephant grass basal diet (Rusdy et al2019). Another hedge plant that grows abundantly and sometimes used as forage in the area is Lannea coromandelica, (hereafter is called Lannea). In rural areas in Indonesia the stem bark extracts of this plant is commonly used to cure wounds and some infectious diseases. Its stem bark extract is well known because of its hypotensive, antimicrobial and zoo sporocidal activities (Reddy et al 2011) Although leaves of this medicinal plant sometimes used as forage during the dry season, there is a limited information concerning the effects of feeding of this plant on growth performance of animals. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of supplementing elephant grass with Lannea leaves, Gliricidia leaves and mixture of Lannea and Giricidia leaves in comparison with concentrate feed on growth performance of Bali cattle.

Materials and methods

Location of study

The study was conducted at Maiwa Breeding Centre, a cattle breeder located in Enrekang district, South Sulawesi Indonesia with latitude of 3 o 27’32’’ and longitude of 110o 52’ 53’’. Temperature of the site is ranging from 21.4 to 33.9o C and the rainy season occurs in November to April and peaked on December to January. The study lasted from July to November 2019.

Animals, feeds, feeding and treatments

Elephant grass with regrowth ages of 2 – 2.5 month and Gliricidia and Lannea leaves (Fig.1) were harvested inside and vicinity of MBC area using sickle and chopped with motorized chopper into pieces (length of about 2 – 8 cm). The three forage species were harvested every morning for feeding in the afternoon and a part of them is allowed to wilt overnight for feeding in the next morning. Before chopping, big stems of elephant grass and big petioles of Gliricidia and Lannea were discarded to ensure that the animals can consume the three plant leaves uniformly.

Fifteen female Bali cattle with ages between 1.3 to 2 years old and initial body weight of 132 -146 kg were housed individually in separated pens equipped with feeding and watering facilities. Each pen measured 2 x 1.5 m with concrete floor, wood sides and zinc roof. Photos of Lannea and Gliricidia plants and Bali cattle fed with the leaves of the two were shown in photo 1.

The animals received five experimental diets in randomized complete block design with three replicates. The experimental diets were 1 elephant grass 100% (EG100), 2 elephant grass 60% + Lannea leaves 40% (EG60 L40), 3 elephant grass 60% + Giricidia leaves 40% (EG60 G40), 4 elephant grass 60% + Gliricidia leaves 20% + Lannea leaves 20% (G60 G20 L20), and 5 elephant grass 60% + concentrate feed 40% (EG60 C40). Concentrate feeds composed of 50% rice bran, 20% maize meal, 10% fish meal, 19% corn cob, 0.5% salt and 0.5% minerals. Proportions of each experimental diet were based on dry matter contents. A 14 days of adaptation period was used to allow the animals to get used to the experimental diets. Before experiment started, all animals were treated with drugs for killing internal and external parasites.

Animal feeding period lasted for 84 days. During this period, experimental diets were offered daily at 8.00 AM and at 17.00 PM. To determine feed intake, feed offered and refusal were weighed every day. The weight of feed offered was adjusted so that amount of experimental diets offered was 10 – 20% above previous days intake. All experimental diets fed al libitum and drinking water was provided at all times. Experimental diets were sampled every two weeks, bulked and later analyzed for dry matter content, crude protein, NDF, ADF, calcium, phosphorus and condensed tannins. All animals were weighed at the start of study and subsequently weighed every two weeks until day 84. Average daily gain was calculated as differences between the final and initial body weight divided by number of feeding days. Feed conversion rate was calculated as weight of DM feed consumed divided by weight gain.

Photo 1. Lannea and Gliricidia plants and Bali cattle fed the two leaves of plants
Digestion trial

Digestion trial was done during the 12th week of experiment. About 100 g of fresh feces from each animal were collected daily. The collected feces then were kept in the refrigerator at temperature of 4 o C. At the end 7 day of collection, the feces were bulked, mixed and sampled. The samples were oven dried at 60o C for 72 hours to determine fecal dry matter content. The samples then were milled to pass 1 mm screen and kept in plastic cups for determining dry matter digestibility, using acid insoluble ash method (Van Soest 1994).

Chemical analysis

Dry matter contents of experimental diets were determined by oven drying the samples at 60o C for 72 hours. The oven dried samples were used to determine N content using micro Kjeldahl method (AOAC 1980). Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) were determined using the procedure of Goering and Van Soest (970). Calcium and phosphorus were determined by optical emission spectrophotometry (SOP 2005). Condensed tannin content was determined by spectrophotometric method (Price and Butler,1977).

Statistical analysis

Data on weight gain of animals, crude protein, dry matter digestibility of diets, crude protein intake and feed conversion rate were subjected to statistical analysis with significant difference between means estimated using the least significant difference (Steel and Torrie, 1980).

Results and discussion

Nutritional composition of experimental diets

As expected, elephant grass has lower crude protein and higher NDF and ADF contents than legume plant of Gliricidia This is in line with Albayrak and Turk (2013) and Salama and Nawar (2016) that grasses had higher NDF and ADF compared with legume and grass-legume mixtures. Non-legume plant of Lannea and concentrate feed also had higher crude protein and lower NDF and ADF than elephant grass (Table 1). Crude protein content of elephant grass used in this experiment (8.66%) is slightly above the crude protein requirement for maintenance of ruminant animas (Minson and Milford, 1967), but crude protein contents of all other supplements are sufficient to meet the minimum requirement of 15% for lactation and growth of ruminants (McDonald et al 2002). Based on NDF and ADF contents, only elephant grass can be classified as low quality forages (Singh and Oosting, 1992), but based on ADF contents, elephant grass andLandea leaves could be classified low quality feed and Gliricidia sepium leaves and concentrate feed as medium quality feeds (Ball et al., 2007). High NDF and ADF contents are indicative of low DM intake and DM digestibility as NDF and ADF values are negatively correlated with DM intake and DM digestibility, respectively. (Van Soest, 1994).

Table 1. Nutritional composition of elephant grass, Gliricidia, Lannea leaves and concentrate feed


Elephant grass




Dry matter (%)





Crude protein (%)





NDF (%)





ADF (%)





Condensed tannin (%)





Calcium (%)





Phosphorus (%)





Nd – not determined

Among the feed ingredients used, Lannea had the highest tannin level, while elephant grass had the lowest tannin level (Table 1). Condensed tannin level of elephant grass was higher than reported by Kahindi et al 2007) (0.86%) but was lower compared with report of Muinga et al (1992) (1.27%). Tannin content of Gliricidia in the present study (2.22%) is comparable with report of Muinga et al (2007) (2.23%) and Santoso et al (2013) (2.5%). Condensed tannin of Lannea leaves is comparable with other high tannin plant like Calliandra calothyrsus leaves that attained 8.20% (Ahn et al 1997). Condensed tannins interact with crude protein in the saliva and rumen that affect protein solubility and digestibility of feed consumed.

Calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) content of feed ingredients are varied. The highest was found in concentrate feed and the lowest was found in elephant grass (Table1). Ca and P contents of all feed ingredients in this study are sufficient to meet maintenance requirement of dairy cows (0.20%) (Jacobson et al 2020).

Animal performance

The lowest dry matter intake, weight gain and dry matter digestibility and the highest feed conversion rate was found in animals fed sole elephant grass (Table 1). This confirms the low performance of animals fed sole elephant grass (Marsetyo et al 2012; Rusdy et al 2019).

Supplementation of elephant grass with Gliricidia, Lannea, mixture of Gliricidia and Lannea and concentrate had positive effect on dry matter intake, dry matter digestibility and weight gain (Table 2). This could be due to high crude protein contents and fermentable energy of supplements. Protein supplementation to ruminants fed low quality grass like elephant grass might enhance the growth of rumen fibrolytic bacteria and increased rumen degradation of feed. The high crude protein and fermentable energy contents of supplements might also contribute to higher digestibility that eventually having positive effect on feed intake and gain. This is in line with Minson and Milford (1967) that supplementation of low quality grass with feed containing crude protein more than 7% increased dry matter intake and animal performance.

Table 2. Weight, intake, gain and feed conversion rate of Bali cattle fed experimental diets


EG 100

EG 60
+ L 40

EG 60
+ G 40

EG 60 + G20
+ L20

EG 60
+ C 40



Initial weight, kg







> 0.05

Final weight, kg








Gain, kg








Daily gain, kg








DMI, kg/d








CPI, kg/d








DM digestibility,%








Feed conversion rate, (DMI/kg gain)








Means within the same row with different superscript are significantly different (p < 0.05)

There are differential effects of each supplement on animal performance. Animals supplemented with Lannea leaves. showed the highest feed conversion rate and the lowest weight gain compared with those animals fed other supplements (Table 2 ). This might be due to the higher levels of NDF, ADF and lower dry matter digestibility of Lannea leaves than other supplements as affected by high tannin contents (Table 1). Feed conversion rate of animals supplemented with Lannea or Giricidia leaves were significantly higher than those supplemented with mixture of Lannea – Gliricidia or concentrate feed (Table 2 and Figure 1 ). This indicates that animals supplemented with Lannea or Gliricidia are less efficient to convert feed to gain. This could be attributed to the differences of tannin contents of diets that affect protein solubility in the rumen. Diets of elephant grass mixed with Lannea leaves might contain high tannins (>5%) because of high proportions of Lannea leaves in the diets and the high tannin contents of Lannea leaves. Conversely, tannin contents of diets of elephant grass mixed with Gliricidia leaves might be low (<2%) because of the low tannin contents of Gliricidia leaves although their proportion in the diet was high. When condensed tannin exceed 4 – 6% of DM, they are likely to be detrimental to digestion, as most N is excreted via feces (Mangan 1998). Conversely, lack of tannin in the diets probably leave protein unprotected as to be completely degraded in the rumen that eventually lost through urinary excretion. Tannin contents of diets of mixture of elephant grass 60% + Lannea leaves 20% + Gliricidia leaves 20% are probably between 2 – 4% that are considered to be the good values to precipitate protein and increasing protein bypass (Barry 1983).

Compared with other supplements used, animals supplemented with mixture of Lannea and Gliricidia leaves and concentrate had the lowest feed conversion rates and the highest weight gain (Table 2 and Figure 2). This indicates that supplement of concentrate and Lannea mixed with Gliricidia leaves biologically is the best supplement of all supplements offered. However, because of high prices of concentrate, mixture of Lannea and Gliricidia leaves is more efficient used as supplement than concentrate. Tannin levels of elephant grass – LanneaGiricidia leaves diet probably affords a good protection of protein in the rumen, leading to high N retention and weight gain in animals. Mixture of low and high tannins species as suggested by Castro-Gonzales and Avaron-Gamboa (2008) can be used to improve rumen degradation and digestibility of low quality diets. Mixture of other high protein and - tannin plant leaves like Calliandra calothyrsus and Flemingia macrophyla (Tiemann et al 2008), Acacia auriculiformis (Reddy and Elanchezihan (2008) with low tannin plant like Gliricidia sepium and Sesbania grandiflora Reddy and Elanchezhian (2008) leaves should be studied to find a cheaper alternative supplements for animals fed elephant grass basal diet.

Figure 1. Daily weight gain of Bali cattle fed sole elephant grass or supplemented with sole
Lannea, sole Gliricidia, mixture Lannea and Gliricidia or concentrate

Daily gain and feed conversion rate of animals supplemented with mixed Giricidia –Lannea and concentrate feeds were not significantly different. Presence of maize grain and fish meal in the concentrate feed that contains appreciable amounts of protein by-pass (Tandon et al 2008) and fermentable energy might increase N retention and gain of animals supplemented with concentrate feeds. Results of our study proves that low-prices of locally available feed resources of Giricidia and Lannea can be used to replace high-price concentrate feed as supplement in cattle fed elephant grass basal diets.



The authors are thankful to the Directorate general of higher education and research ministry of education republic of Indonesia and rector of Hasanuddin University, Indonesia for providing funds so that this study could accomplished successfully. Special thank also go to Daeng Buang who had involved in feeding and management of the cattle used in the study.


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