Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (5) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Study of growth performance and leather quality in mithun (Bos frontalis) and its comparison with local cattle (Bos indicus) fed on tree leaves based ration

K C Das, G Mukherjee*, K K Baruah, K Khate and C Rajkhowa

NRC on Mithun, Indian Council of Agricultural Research,
Jharnapani, Nagaland, India, 797106
kcdasicar@gmail.com
* Government College of Engineering and Leather Technology,
Kolkata, India 700 098

Abstract

The objective of the experiment was to study the growth performance and leather quality of mithun (Bos frontalis) and its comparison with Tho-tho cattle (Bos indicus) of India. Mithun and Tho-tho cattle of North-Eastern hilly (NEH) region of India were individually fed on tree leaves/shrubs (Quercus polystachya, Lagerstroemia spaciosa and Ficus hirta) based ration for a period of six months.  Approximately half of the DM requirement was met by concentrate and rest by roughage. The water was available at all times. The growth performance of animals was evaluated in terms of average daily gain, feed /nutrient intake and feed conversion efficiency during the experimental period. After growth study, three experimental animals of both mithun and cattle were sacrificed and hides were processed by using different methods like soaking, liming, deliming, pickling and chrome tanning.  The leather quality of both mithun and cattle were assessed for physical, chemical and microscopic properties.

The growth performance of mithun was better than cattle. Mithun attained 470g average daily gain where as Tho-tho cattle attained 333g average daily gain and the difference was statistically significant (P< 0.05). The intake of dry matter (DM), protein and energy were higher in mithun compared to cattle (P< 0.05).  The Physical properties of leather viz. tensile strength, grain crack strength and ball bursting strength was better in mithun than cattle. The chemical analysis of leather showed that the bound organic matter, protein and chromium content were higher in mithun leather indicating the superiority in quality of mithun leather.  Micrographs at higher magnifications in the case of mithun hides showed highly opened up fibre structure. The fibre bundles were evenly dispersed better in case of mithun hide. The higher physical strength, higher yield and more thickness provide an excellent scope of this species for preparation of finished leather products when processed with conventional chrome tanning methodology. In conclusion, the growth performance and leather quality in mithun was superior to cattle and mithun rearing is beneficial in improving the socio economic conditions of poor farmers of NEH region of India.

Key words: growth performance, leather characteristics, local cattle, mithun


Introduction

The mithun (Bos frontalis) is a unique ruminant found in the hill regions of northeast India, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of China and Malaysia. In India, there are four distinct strains of mithun i.e. Arunachal strain, Manipur strain, Mizoram strain and Nagaland strain. These different strains are distinguished by their distinct physical and genetic features. This prized hill animal of the North-Eastern Hill Region (NEHR) has an important role in the economic, social, cultural and religious life of the local tribal population who inhabit the area (NRCM 2010). Mithuns are normally found at elevations from 2,000 to 9,000 feet, in forested areas. Mithun feed on forest leaves, young plants and grasses. Mithuns are normally browsers rather than grazers, eating forest leaves and young plants, instead of requiring pasture land like other bovines. In a kind of part-time domestication, mithuns have usually been "kept" by releasing them into forests for feeding during the day with or without human supervision. While some mithuns become feral and stay in the forest full-time, most communities would bring them back to the village for the night.

 

Unlike the rather fierce gaur, which can fight off tigers and avoid humans, mithuns are extremely docile and appear to seek human contact, particularly if salt is involved. They like salt very much and that makes them very easy to rear. They know their master's voice. If their master makes a usual way of shouting loud to call them to come to him, all of the herds will run to the voice. They will graze in some thick forest and will all get together to one spot where they are usually fed salt regularly like in the evening.

 

The mithun is used for many purposes. As a potential source of meat, the mithun is considered to be an efficient converter of forest biomass into valuable beef, with a daily body weight gain of 500 g. The body weight of the adult mithun varies from 400 kg to 600 kg. The mithun also produces superior quality milk, with the percentage of fat ranging from 11% to 13%. The mithun is a useful draught and pack animal, due to its surefootedness on the steep hill slopes, and it is also used as a bridal gift.

 

Mithun has lots of similarity with Tho-tho cattle (Bos indicus), which is also inhabitant of the same geo-environmental condition. They are reared primarily for meat and dung production and occasionally for milk by all the major tribes of Nagaland (ICAR 2010). Recently, the Tho-tho has been recognized as a cattle breed of India (NBAGR Karnal India). Both mithun and cattle thrive on similar types of feed and fodder depending on their availability in this region. Fat and protein content of milk of mithun and Tho-tho cattle are more than other cattle breeds of India (Mondal et al 2001) and meat of both species is preferred by local tribes. Both of the species are primarily reared as meat animal and are highly preferred among the tribal people. The tribes consume the skin along with the meat as there is no awareness among the farmers on the quality of the skin.  However expensive leather products can be prepared out of the processed hides and it can also fetch good price in national and international market (Mukjherhee 2007). In an attempt to popularize the leather processing and to compare the performances of these two species of animals, growth and leather characteristics of mithun was studied and compared with the cattle.


Materials and methods

Experimental Design

The experiment was conducted in the mithun farm located at Medziphema, Nagaland of India. Seven male mithun (Bos frontalis) and seven male Tho-tho cattle (Bos indicus) of average 2 years of age were individually penned and fed on tree leaves/shrubs (Quercus polystachya, Lagerstroemia spaciosa and Ficus hirta, chaffed and mixed incorporating equal parts on fresh basis) with rice straw (2:1 ratio on fresh basis) along with concentrate mixture as per requirement of cattle (Annual Report 2010).  Approximately 50% of DM requirement was met by concentrate and rest by including roughage. The water was available at all times. The composition of concentrate mixture was maize 30 parts, wheat bran 15 parts, rice polish 20 parts, mustard cake 33 parts, mineral mixture 1 part and salt 1 part. The chemical composition of concentrate mixture, tree leaves and paddy straw used in this experiment is given in table 1. Before the start of the experiment, the animals were treated for external and internal parasite with Ivermectin, and given vitamins A, D3 and E. Live weight of each animal was recorded at every fortnight interval before feeding and watering and average daily gain was calculated.  The feed offered and residues were recorded and DM percentage of each was recorded daily during the whole experiment to find out the daily dry matter intake. Feed conversion ratio of mithun and cattle was calculated from feed intake and average daily gain at the end of experimental period. 

 

The samples of concentrate mixture, tree leaves and rice straw were analyzed at the end of feeding experiment as per AOAC (1990) and are presented in table 1.


Table 1: Chemical composition of feed and fodder (% DM basis, except for DM which is on fresh basis)

 

  Concentrate

   mixture       

   Ficus hirta

   Quercus   polystachya

Lagerstroemia spaciosa.

   Rice straw

DM

89.2

23.6

38.1

36.8

87.3

OM

91.1

93.8

90.2

94.9

85.9

CP

17.2

14.6

10.9

12.3

3.36

EE

8.35

1.80

4.90

2.14

1.08

CF

9.71

18.3

26.9

26.5

33.8

NFE

55.8

59.1

47.5

54.0

47.7

TA

8.89

6.20

9.80

5.01

14.1

CT

-

2.10

3.90

2.90

0.40

DM: Dry Matter ; OM :Organic Matter ;CP : Crude Protein ; EE :Ether Extract ;CF: Crude Fibre ; NFE :Nitrogen Free Extract; TA: Total Ash; CT: Condensed Tannin.


The feeding experiment was continued for a period of six months after which three in each species of animals were sacrificed and hides were processed for evaluation of leather characteristics.

 

Processing for Leather and Leather Characteristics

 

After completion of feeding experiment, three animals from each species of animals were sacrificed and hides were separated. The hides of mithun and tho-tho cattle were processed and it was decided to process them into several items e.g. chrome tanned hair on leather, chrome tanned finished shoe upper leather, garment nappa leather etc. The processing was done by using different methods like soaking, liming, deliming, pickling and chrome tanning (Mukherjee et al 2005). The leather quality of both mithun and cattle were then assessed for physical, chemical and microscopic properties. IULTCS norms have been followed while obtaining samples from both types of crusts. Specimens were conditioned at 80 40F and 652% relative humidity over a period of 48 hours after which the physical properties e.g. tensile strength, stitch tear strength, grain crack strength and ball bursting strength were evaluated.  Physical properties were assessed as per the standard procedure (IUP 2 JSLTC 84 2000; IUP 6 JSLTC 84 2000 and IUP 8 JSLTC 84 2000). The chemical analysis of leather samples were done as per AOAC (1990) and IUC 8 JSLTC 82(1998). The   microscopic study was done by using the scanning electron microscope. Samples of mithun and cattle hides tanned in chrome tanning processes with uniform thickness (IUP 2 JSLTC 84 2000) have been tested for microscopic study. Initially, leather samples were cut into 10 X10 mm square and dried in the drier for 30 minutes. Dried leather samples are mounted on sample capsules and gold coated for through and through conductivity. The specimens were coated with gold using an Edwards E306 sputter coater. Then the samples are put into the sample position of the scanning electron microscope and images were taken under various magnitudes. A Leica Steroscan 440 scanning electron microscope was used for this study.  The micrographs for the grain surface and cross section have been obtained at an accelerating voltage of 20 KV with different magnification levels.

 

Statistical Analyses

 

 The statistical analyses were done as per Sndecor and Cochran (1980) to determine mean, standard error and t-test was used to compare the difference in performance between mithun and cattle.

 

Results and discussion

Growth Performance  

The growth performance of mithun and tho-tho cattle is presented in table 2.


Table 2. Growth performance of mithun and cattle during the experiment (24-52 weeks)

 

Mithun

Tho-Tho cattle

SEM

P

 

Initial LW, kg

284

262

5.51

0.32

Final LW, kg

376

327

11.4

0.08

ADG, g

470 a

332 b

35.3

0.04

DM intake, kg/day

 

 

 

 

   Concentrate

3.35 a

3.04 b

0.07

0.01

   Roughage

3.53 a

2.93 b

0.13

<0.01

   Total

6.88 a

5.97 b

0.20

<0.01

 DM feed conversion

   14.7 a

  18.0 b

0.77

0.02

 Crude protein intake, g/d

 804 a

710 b

21.6

0.01

Means with different superscripts in a row differ at p< 0.05


During the experimental period, fortnightly body weight and daily DMI were recorded. Mithun attained 470g average daily gain where as Tho-tho cattle attained 333g average daily gain and the difference was statistically significant. Growth performance was found to be better in mithun than cattle. This may be because of better genetic potential in mithun than local cattle. As far as previous work is concerned, many workers have reported 500g ADG in growing mithun when fed on tree leaves based ration  (Prakash et al 2005; Das et al 2009a) while others  have reported about 600g ADG in specific phase of growth (Das et al 2010). Many tree leaves and shrubs available in NEH region of India are good source of nutrients for mithun (Prakash et al 2006) and feeding of these tree leaves/shrubs improve the overall performance of this animal (Das et al 2008). The growth performance of local cattle (Tho-tho) has not been reported so far but it is a smaller size animal than mithun of the same region. Dry matter (DM) consumption per day was 6.88 kg for mithun and 5.97 kg for Tho-tho cattle and the difference was significant (p<0.05). Better growth performance in mithun than cattle was because of increased dry matter intake in this experiment similar to the findings of Das et al (2010). The feed conversion ratio was also better (P<0.05) in mithun than cattle.

 

As far as nutritional characteristics are concerned, intake of both protein and energy was more in mithun than cattle resulting in higher growth rate of mithun than cattle (Lapitan et al 2008).

Physical and Chemical Properties of Leathers

The physical properties of the leather from mithun and cattle hides is presented in table 3.  


Table 3. Physical characteristics of leather from mithun and cattle hide

 

Mithun

Tho-Tho cattle

SEM

P

 

Skin weight, kg

28.1 a

20.4 b

1.90

0.01

Bag leather strength, kg/cm2

 

 

 

 

Tensile

114 a

95.8 b

3.02

<0.01

Stitch tear

85.8 b

117 a

4.75

<0.01

Grain crack

9.07 a

5.67 b

0.53

<0.01

Ball bursting

72.9 a

61.9 b

1.71

<0.01

Means with different superscripts in a row differ at p< 0.05


The skin of both mithun and cattle was removed manually after slaughtering the animals and weight was recorded immediately. The skin weight of mithun (28.1 kg) was more than the skin weight (20.4 kg) of cattle and this may be the preliminary observations for production of good quality leather from mithun hides compared to cattle hides.  Physical characteristics like tensile strength, grain crack strength and ball bursting strength of bag leather were higher in mithun leather showing unique in strength properties compared to cattle leather.

  

The chemical properties of leather from mithun and cattle hides is presented in table 4.


Table 4. Chemical characteristics of leather from mithun and cattle hides (% on DM basis)

 

Mithun    

Tho tho cattle

SEM

P

Crude protein

96.4 a

94.0 b

0.65

0.04

Ash

1.88 a

2.15 b

0.06

<0.01

Ether Extract

1.46 a

3.60 b

0.49

<0.01

Bound organic matter

20.7 a

16.9 b

0.88

<0.01

Chromium content

3.92 a

2.82 b

0.25

<0.01

Means with different superscripts in a row differ at p< 0.05


The chemical analysis showed that the bound organic matter, protein and chromium content were more in mithun leather compared to cattle leather.  Leathers are routinely checked for quality of the leather by these methods (Leather International 2003). Superior physical and chemical property of mithun leather was because of better genetic potential in mithun for production of good quality leather (Annual Report NRC on Mithun 2010). In this experiment, better growth and leather performance indicated superiority of mithun than cattle in improving socioeconomic conditions of poor farmers in NEH region. 

Electron Microscopy

Scanning electron photomicrographs of crust leather samples from crusts made in conventional chrome tanning methodology from mithun and tho-tho cattle hides showing the grain surface of the leathers at different magnification levels are shown in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4.


Figure 1.  Scanning electron micrograph of chrome
tanned mithun hide surface at 150X
magnification  

Figure 2.  Scanning electron micrograph of chrome
tanned cattle hide surface at 150X 
magnification  

Figure 3.  Scanning electron micrograph of chrome
tanned mithun hide surface at 3500X  magnification
 
Figure 4. Scanning electron micrograph of chrome
tanned cattle hide surface at 3500X
magnification 

 

Figure 1 is photomicrograph of grain surfaces of mithun wet blue tanned in conventional chrome tanning methodology; whereas figure 2 exhibits photomicrograph of grain surfaces of cattle wet blue tanned in conventional chrome tanning methodology. Both the cow and mithun leather samples exhibited a clean grain surface, which indicates that there is no physical deposition of chromium and the surfaces are free from keratinous debris. Higher magnification scanning electron micrographs (x3500) also confirm the above observation. The hair follicles look clean without any foreign materials in both the cases. Micrographs at higher magnifications in the case of mithun hides show highly opened up fibre structure which can explain the high percentage area yield in the case of mithun chrome tanned leather and also higher thickness which is the principal asset to our leather industry which is now ridden with the problems of tiny raw materials. The fibre bundles also seem to be evenly dispersed (separation of fibres) better in the case of mithun hide. Opening up feature also come out to be better in the case of innovative one.

 

Figures 3 and 4 exhibit the scanning electron photomicrographs 3500x magnification of grain surface of leathers processed from mithun and cattle hides. The above manifested features account for higher physical strength, higher yield, and more thickness in the case of mithun hide when processed with conventional chrome tanning methodology. Thus, tanning society can get rid of the acute crisis of availability of raw hide of substantial thickness. So, scanning electron micrographs of both mithun and cattle hides tanned in conventional methodology firmly corroborate the earlier findings on superior properties of leathers prepared from tanned mithun hides. 


Conclusions


References

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Received 11 October 2010; Accepted 20 March 2011; Published 1 May 2011

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