Development of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) leaf meal as an animal feed

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Research was conducted in Sri Lanka to evaluate the feasibility of developing cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) leaf meal as an animal feed. In feeding trials with broilers, improvements in performance were observed at 10% inclusion of cassava leaf meal (CLM). High levels (20 and 30%) of CLM depressed gain, feed intake and feed per gain. Weights of spleen and liver (% of body weight) linearly increased with increasing levels of CLM. Carcass pigmentation values favored the CLM-based diets. Dietary additives (methionine, sodium thiosulfate or soybean oil plus methionine) improved the growth of broilers fed 20% CLM diet without, however, having any beneficial effect when added to the basal diet. Gain of broilers tended to decrease with increasing dietary levels of cyanide.

Feeding trials with growing pigs showed that CLM can be included up to 26.7% level without any effect on performance. Gain and feed per gain were improved at 13.3% CLM level, whereas marked depressions were noted at 40% CLM level. Results of the balance trials indicated that cassava leaf protein is utilized more efficiently by the pigs, although the nutrients in CLM are not as digestible as those in coconut oil meal. The overall results suggest that bulkiness, low energy content, methionine deficiency and presence of anti-nutritional factors, are the major factors limiting the high level use of CLM in non-ruminant diets.

Studies on the processing of CLM revealed that simple drying is sufficient to eliminate almost 90% of the initial cyanide level in the fresh cassava leaves. A combination of chopping and 3-day wilting prior to drying proved most effective in lowering the cyanide level of CLM.

Field trials conducted with a short-age cassava variety, MU 22, demonstrated that it is possible to increase cassava leaf dry matter yields by defoliating once during the growing season and to produce within 86% of the normal yield of roots. Two defoliations during the growing season depressed the root crop by more than half.