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Preliminary study on Tephrosia candida as forage alternative to Leucaena leucocephala for ruminant nutrition in Southwest Nigeria

J A Odedire and O J Babayemi*

Department of Animal Science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria
*Department of Animal Science, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria


Forage potential of Tephrosia candida as comparison with Leucaena leucocephala was investigated. Germination ability of the two forage plants was evaluated using a completely randomized design. Field trial was carried out to determine the herbage heights at 7 and 14 months post - planting (MPP), as well as the forage yield every 7 months.

Tephrosia candida seeds recorded 41.25 % germination, which was higher (P < 0.05) than the value of 27.00 % obtained for Leucaena leucocephala seeds. At 7 MPP, the herbage height of 252 .0 cm recorded for Tephrosia candida was higher (P < 0.05) than 62.0 cm obtained from Leucaena leucocephala. At 14 MPP, the same trend was observed as the height of Tephrosia candida had reached 363.0 cm while that of Leucaena leucocephala was at 138.0 cm. A forage yield of 10.82 t/ha DM was recorded for Tephrosia candida at the first 7 - month harvest while Leucaena leucocephala had not reached the height of 100 cm marked for cut - back level. At the second 7 - month harvest, the forage yield of 9.11 t/ha DM obtained for Tephrosia candida was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than the yield of 7.75 t/ha DM recorded for Leucaena leucocephala.

The chemical composition of the two legumes compared well with each other in their fibre contents, ranging from 39.80 to 41.00 g/100 g DM Neutral detergent fibre, 34.30 to 36.80 g/100 g DM Acid detergent fibre, 4.20 to 4.70 g/100 g DM lignin and 30.10 to 32.10 g/100 g DM cellulose in Leucaena leucocephala and Tephrosia candida respectively. The crude protein content ranged from 21.41 g/100 g DM in Leucaena leucocephala to 17.19 g/100 g DM in Tephrosia candida, while ether extract and ash contents ranged from 9.50 to 9.00 g/100 g DM and 6.50 to 8.50 g/100 g DM respectively.

Results indicate that Tephrosia candida seed is high in germination percentage and dry matter yield. Crude protein and fibre fractions are also comparable to the traditional Leucaena leucocephala as forage for ruminants.

Key words: forage yield, germination, Leucaena leucocephala, nutrient composition, Tephrosia candida


The constraint posed by dry seasons on continual availability of pasture to livestock in Nigeria is a quandary in animal production. Dry season is a key factor that predisposes ruminants to consistent weight loss, being fed with standing hay and low protein roughages (Babayemi and Bamikole 2006). Livestock farmers in the region have intensified the supplementation of the dry season feed with shrub and tree legumes. These browse plants are low in fibre, high in crude protein and available all year round (Babayemi et al 2004). Gliricidia sepium and Leucaena leucocephala are traditional browse plants in Nigeria. They are high in crude protein and minimal in fibre content but arable crop farmers are skeptical on the plants, being difficult to eradicate when they had fully established. Gliricidia sepium has limited acceptance among ruminants as it contains an offensive odour (coumarin). Leucaena leucocephala on the other hand is endowed with mimosine, an antinutritional factor that curtails the ad libitum ingestion of the plant by large and small ruminants.

Tephrosia candida is a perennial shrub found mainly in research stations (Babayemi et al 2003a) and is commonly grown as a shade tree for tea (Ahmed et al 1993). The plant has been described by ABRATES (2000) as a root - nodulating legume with potential for use in agroforestry. The plant is reported to be tolerant to a range of soils and temperatures (Nguyen and Thai 1993), suggesting its selection as one of the forages by farmers in Tanzania on the basis of its biomass yield, weed suppression and tolerance to pests and diseases (Ahmed et al 1993). Tephrosia was reported to be well accepted with high dry matter intake, digestibility and nitrogen utilization when supplemented for the goats in range (Babayemi and Bamikole 2006). This study was aimed at evaluating the forage potentials of Tephrosia candida as a possible alternative to Leucaena leucocephala in ruminant nutrition.

Materials and methods

This experiment was in two phases. In the first phase, a germination trial of the legume seeds was carried out while in the second phase, field planting of the legume seeds was done. Clean, healthy looking seeds of Leucaena leucocephala were soaked in water overnight and thereafter spread out, to allow for air drying. Seeds of Tephrosia candida were mechanically scarified using the emery paper as described (Babatunde 2000).

Germination trial

The germination study was carried out at the forage unit laboratory of the Department of Animal Science, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. Treated seeds of Leucaena leucocephala and Tephrosia candida were placed in Petri dishes with transparent lid cover, lined with two layers of Whatman filter paper (12.5 cm) and watered to its moisture holding capacity, taking good care to prevent excess water film that may result in a water log around the seeds. Fifty (50) seeds each of both legumes were arranged in a regular equidistant pattern on the surface of the moist filter paper in the Petri dishes in replicates of four (n=200). Watering and germination counts began 48 hours after the commencement of the experiment according to the procedure outlined by Hanson (1985). According to this procedure, the radicles of non-hard seeds would emerge within 24 hours of sowing while most seeds that will germinate would do so within 5 days of planting. Counting and watering of the seeds were conducted everyday for a period of 14 days after which, any seed that failed to germinate was regarded as dormant and unviable. Counting was done by picking the germinated seed with the aid of forceps, and thereafter, discarding such seed. This process was repeated daily until the 14th day when the experiment terminated. The remaining seeds were counted and sorted either as rotten or dormant. Germination potential of the seeds was expressed as:

Photo 1: Tephrosia candida

Field trial

The field experiment was conducted at the University of Ibadan Teaching and Research farm (7º 27' N; 3º 45' E). Tephrosia candida (Photo 1) and Leucaena leucocephala seeds were established on a cultivated plot that was previously overgrown with Panicum maximum and Chromolaena odorata. Treated seeds of Tephrosia and Leucaena were planted into the soil by drilling along the rows, at the rate of 7.5 kg/ha, with inter - row spacing of 3 m apart. The legumes were planted in plot sizes of 7 x 13 m2 in four replicates. Harvesting of the herbage was done at 7 months post planting (7MPP). The plants were cut at 100 cm above ground level, with the aid of a sharp sickle. Samples of the harvested herbage were taken to the laboratory for dry matter determination by oven - drying at 65 ºC until a constant weight was obtained and thereafter the samples were further analyzed for their chemical composition using the method of AOAC (1990). Fibre analysis was done according to the method of Van Soest et al (1991), as modified by Nahm (1992).

Statistical analysis

Data from parameters measured were analyzed in a randomized complete block design using the analysis of variance procedure of SAS (1999) and means separated using the Duncan multiple range test of the same package.


Germination percentage of Tephrosia candida and Leucaena leucocephala seeds is presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1.  Germination percentages of Tephrosia candida and Leucaena leucocephala seeds

The value of 41.25 % obtained for Tephrosia candida seeds was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than that obtained for the Leucaena leucocephala seeds (27.00 %). Figure 2 showed the herbage height of the two forages when harvested at 7 months post-planting (7MPP), after which, they were cut back to 100 cm height above ground level.

Figure 2.  Herbage height of Tephrosia candida and Leucaena leucocephala at 7 and 14 months post - planting (MPP)

The result followed the trend observed in Figure 1, as the height of 252.00 cm obtained for Tephrosia candida was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than the value of 62.00 cm recorded for Leucaena leucocephala plant. At 14 months post - planting (14MPP), the height of 138.00 cm obtained for Leucaena leucocephala was still significantly (P < 0.05) lower than that obtained for Tephrosia candida (363.00 cm).

The herbage dry matter yield of the forages is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3.  Herbage yield (tonnes/ha DM) of Tephrosia candida at first cutting (7 MPP) and second cutting (7 months regrowth) and that of Leucaena leucocephala at first cutting (14 MPP)

At the first harvest (7 MPP), Tephrosia candida recorded a forage yield of 10.82 tonnes/ha DM while that of Leucaena leucocephala could not be recorded because the plant had not reached the 100 cm mark for cutting back. At the second 7 - month harvest (14 months after planting Leucaena), Tephrosia candida re-growth still recorded a significantly (P < 0.05) higher yield (9.11 tonnes/ha DM) than the value of 7.75 tonnes/ha DM obtained for Leucaena leucocephala.

Table 1 shows the chemical composition of the two forages.

Table 1.  Chemical composition (g/100 g DM) of Tephrosia candida and Leucaena leucocephala


Leucaena leucocephala

Tephrosia candida

Dry matter



Crude protein



Neutral detergent fibre



Acid detergent fibre












Ether extract






The dry matter (DM) content varied from 28.9 g/100 g in Leucaena leucocephala to 38.6 g/100 g in Tephrosia candida, while the crude protein value ranged from 17.19 g/100 g DM in Tephrosia candida to 21.41 g/100 g DM in L.  leucocephala. The neutral detergent fibre, which is a measure of the plant cell wall material, ranged from 39.8 g/100 g DM in Leucaena leucocephala to 41.0 g/100 g DM in Tephrosia candida. Acid detergent fibre and cellulose fractions ranged from 34.30 and 30.10 g/100 g DM to 36.80 and 32.10 g/100 g DM forLeucaena leucocephala and Tephrosia candida respectively while the hemicellulose fraction of the legumes ranged from 4.20 to 5.50 g/100 g DM in Tephrosia candida and Leucaena leucocephala respectively. Ether extract, which is the measure of the lipid content of the legumes, varied slightly from 9.00 g/100 g DM in Tephrosia candida to 9.50 g/100 g DM in Leucaena leucocephala while the ash content varied from 6.50 g/100 g DM in Leucaena leucocephala, to 8.50 g/100 g. DM in Tephrosia candida.


The result of the germination experiment suggests Tephrosia candida seed to contain a lower concentration of chemical germination inhibitors than Leucaena leucocephala seed coat. This may be partly due to the different seed treatment methods employed for the two legumes. Soaking seeds of Leucaena leucocephala in water overnight was in anticipation of any presence of germination inhibitors (Ezenwa 1999) and the mechanical scarification employed for Tephrosia candida seeds was to discourage seed dormancy effect on the germination of the seeds. The low germinability of Leucaena leucocephala could also be attributed to an inherent or genetic factor (Bradbeer 1994). The result also showed Tephrosia candida as having superior seedling vigour over Leucaena leucocephala, as the seedling vigour can be judged from the plant's herbage height and forage yield.

The relatively slow growth and subsequently low yield of Leucaena leucocephala is attributable to its slow growth at its early stages of seedling and young plant in the absence of a nitrogen starter dose (Bogdan 1977; Garcia et al 1996). This, however, is at variance with the report of Cocks and Thomson (1988) that Leucaena species flourishes well in the absence of expensive nitrogenous fertilizers. The high herbage yield and height obtained for Tephrosia candida was in agreement with the report of Babayemi et al (2003a) that Tephrosia species are early maturing. The yield of 10.82 tonnes/ha DM obtained for Tephrosia candida in this study was higher than the yield of 7.93 and 9.28 tonnes/ha DM reported by Muller et al (1992) from Tephrosia candida planted on different sites in Brazil. Similarly, the value of 4.69 tonnes/ha DM reported for Leucaena leucocephala after second year of planting by Barnes (1995) was lower than 7.75 tonnes/ha DM obtained at 14MPP in this study. These disparities in yield could be a result of the differences in the soil fertility and the amount of rainfall in the year of establishment.

The nutrient composition obtained for Leucaena leucocephala forage was within the reported range (Topps 1992; Garcia et al 1996). The apparently high ADF value of Leucaena was probably due to the high cellulose content of the forage and is comparable as reported by Garcia (1988 Missing). The CP value of Leucaena leucocephala obtained in this study is close to 23.0 g/100 g reported by Tangendjaja and Wina (1995) but lower than 26.9 g/100 g as established by Serra et al (1996). The NDF value of 39.8 g/100 g obtained in this study is however higher than 34.0 and 31.4 g/100 g reported elsewhere (Tangendjaja and Wina 1995; Serra et al 1996). The value of 17.2 g/100 g CP obtained for Tephrosia candida obtained in this study is higher than 10.8 and 11.4 g/100 g reported for Tephrosia uniflora and T. villosa respectively (Lamprey et al 1980) but lower than 22.3 g/100 g reported for T. bracteolata (Ayoade, et al 1998). The higher CP value reported by Ayoade et al (1998) was probably due to the fact that Tephrosia bracteolata is an annual plant, and so might have been harvested at earlier period than that of Tephrosia candida which is a sub - perennial plant. However, the values of 15.3 g/100 g and 16.2 g/100 g CP reported for T. bracteolata by Adeloye (1994) and Anugwa et al (2000) respectively, corroborated the value obtained for Tephrosia candida in the present study. The nutrient composition obtained for Tephrosia candida was at variance with the values reported by Babayemi et al (2003b). The differences may be due to the age of the plant at harvest and the season of harvest. The Tephrosia candida analyzed by Babayemi et al (2003a) was harvested at 18 weeks while those used in this study were at 7 months of age. The time of harvest, in this study, coincided with the period at which Tephrosia candida was about flowering while Leucaena leucocephala was yet coming up, being a 'late starter' (Bogdan 1977; Garcia et al 1996). The CP values obtained for both forages are well above the required minimum requirements of 11.9 g/100 g and 12.4 g/100 g recommended for growing and lactating 400 kg cow (NRC 1981), suggesting its adequacy for ruminants nutrition. The fibre contents of the two legumes as well as their lipid contents are comparable but Tephrosia candida appeared to be richer in total mineral contents than Leucaena leucocephala as reflected in their ash contents.

The variability obtained for the legumes' agronomic parameters measured in this study could be as a result of their seedling vigour, which may be related to the different pre - sowing treatment methods employed for their seeds.



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Received 11 March 2007; Accepted 10 August 2007; Published 5 September 2007

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