Livestock Research for Rural Development 24 (10) 2012 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Supplementing Tithonia diversifolia with Guinea grass or tree foliages: effects on feed intake and live weight gain of growing goats

Ngo Hong Chin and Khuc Thi Hue

Goat and Rabbit Resarch Center, Hanoi, Vietnam


Bach Thao x Co goats with an initial weight of 18.1 kg and 5.5 months of age were used to study the effects of supplementing Tithonia diversifolia with Guinea grass, fresh cassava foliage,  banana leaves  or jackfruit foliage. 

DM feed intakes were increased by 14 and 25%, and growth rates by 22 and 29%,  when the goats were fed (1% of LW as DM) with fresh foliage of cassava and Jackfruit, respectively, replacing Guinea grass as supplements to a basal diet of ad libitum fresh foliage of Tithonia diversifolia.

Key words: banana leaves, bypass protein, cassava foliage, Jackfruit, tannins


Tithonia diversifolia often called Wild sunflower or Mexican sunflower is a member of the family Asteraceae, genus Tithonia and species diversifolia (Henderson 2001). It had been observed to be widely spread in many countries in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Many studies suggest that Tithonia can be used for many different purposes as feed for animals and fish, fuel, compost, land demarcation, soil erosion, building materials and shelter for poultry (Olabode et al 2007) and as a medicine to treat various ailments (Agboola et al 2006) .  

In Vietnam, Tithonia grows wild in the highlands. When Tithonia was planted as a fodder plant in acid soil in the GRRC, with 10 tones manure/ha/year, annual edible biomass yields were about 170 tonnes/ha with a very high crude protein content in the foliage (Nguyen Van Sao et al  2008).

The constraint to the use of Tithonia foliage is thought to be the high solubility of the protein which is quickly fermented in the rumen of goats with poor “bypass” characteristic and hence supporting low N retention (Pathoummalangsy and Preston 2007). Thus it is proposed that growth of goats fed Tithonia foliage will be improved if supplemented with high tannin foliage which will help to bind the protein in the diet, and facilitate the bypass characteristics.

The objective of this study was therefore to test a range of foliages with and without known contents of tannins as supplements to Tithonia foliage fed as the basal diet.

Materials and methods


The experiment was carried out at the Goat and Rabbit Research Center, Sontay, Hanoi, Vietnam, longitude E 105o25 and latitude N 21o06. The altitude is about 220 m above sea level. The climate in this area is tropical monsoon, with a wet season between April and November and a dry season from December to March. Average annual rainfall is 1850 mm. The trial was conducted during August to November, 2011.

Experimental feeds and animals

Tithonia foliage (Tithonia diversifolia) was used as the basal diet. The supplements were: Guinea grass (Panicum maximum), cassava foliage (Manihot esculenta Crantz), jackfruit foliage (Artocarpus heterophyllus) and banana leaves (Musa sapientum L.). All foliages and guinea grass were harvested in the fields 1 to 2 hours before feeding. During spells of rainy weather, the forages were harvested the day before feeding to limit the effects of low DM content. The guinea grass and banana leaves were chopped into pieces of 7-10 cm before feeding by giving in separate feed troughs. The tree foliages were offered by hanging in bunches in front of the feed troughs.

The tree foliages were harvested with the length of the stems from 50 to 60 cm, to facilitate hanging above the feed trough.  The cassava variety used was K98-7 (medium bitter variety).  The crossbred goats (Bach Thao x Co) had an average weight of 18-19 kg/head with an average age of 6 months. Before starting the experiment, the goats were treated against parasites with injections of Ivermectin solution (1 ml per 4 kg BW) and vaccinated against pasteurellosis, enterotoxaemia, foot and mouth disease and goat pox.

Experimental design

Thirty two goats were randomly allocated to four treatments with eight animals (equalized for sex) per treatment in a completely randomized design. The length of the trial was 12 weeks. The goats were given Tithonia foliage as the basal feed (TD) and were supplemented with fresh cassava foliage (CF), guinea grass (GG), banana leaves (BL) or jackfruit foliage (JF).  The Tithonia foliage was fed ad libitum in all treatments. Guinea grass, jackfruit foliage, banana leaves and cassava foliages were fed at 1% of the goat body weight (DM basis).


The goats were kept in separate cages, fed individually and were adapted to the experimental feeds for 10 days before starting the experiment. The feeds were divided into 4 meals per day (7:30; 10:30; 14:30 and 16:30). Mineral lick blocks (510 limestone meal, 210 g bone meal, 170 g cement as a binding agent and 100 g salt) were available ad libitum by hanging on the wall of the pens. Water was given freely via water nipples. The experiment lasted for 84 days. The animals were allowed to exercise daily from 14.00 h to 15.00 h. During the exercise time, males and females were separated to avoid mating.  The animals were weighed in the morning before feeding at the start and end of the experiment and at two week intervals. Growth rate, feed intake and feed conversion ratio, were calculated.

Chemical analysis

Samples of feed offered and refused were taken weekly for analysis of DM, then pooled to give monthly samples for further analysis of crude protein CP, neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and ash. Dry matter and nitrogen were analysed according to the standard methods of AOAC (1990). Neutral detergent fiber was determined by the method of van Soest et al (1991). 

Statistical analysis

The data were analyzed statistically using the GLM procedure of Minitab Software, version 15(Minitab 2008). Treatment means which showed significant differences at the probability level of P<0.05 were compared using Tukey’s pair-wise comparison procedure. The statistical model used in the analysis of the growth trial was:

Yijk = m + Ti + eijk,

where Yijk is the dependent variable, m is the overall mean, Ti is the effect of treatment (diets), and eijk is the random error, independent and normally distributed.

Results and discussion

Tithonia and cassava foliage had the highest content of CP and minerals and lowest content of NDF; Guinea grass had the opposite characteristics (Table 1). Cassava foliage was also rich in CP and low in NDF. Banana leaves had similar CP to Guinea grass but less NDF. Jackfruit foliage had intermediate values for both CP and NDF.   

Table 1: Chemical composition of the experimental feeds








g/kg DM

Tithonia foliage





Guinea grass





Banana leaves





Jackfruit foliage





Cassava foliage





The intake of Tithonia foliage was increased by supplementation with Jackfruit and cassava foliage as compared with Guinea grass and banana leaves (Table 2). Total DM intake was greatest with Jackfruit foliage followed by cassava foliage with lowest values on Guinea grass and banana leaves. Intake of Tithonia foliage as percentage of total DM intake followed a similar pattern to total DM intake. 

Table 2: Mean values for feed intake  of the goats fed Tithonia foliage supplemented with Guinea grass or tree foliages


Guinea  grass

Banana leaves

Cassava foliage

Jackfruit foliage


DM feed intake, g/day






  Tithonia foliage






  Guinea grass






  Banana leaves






  Jackfruit foliage






  Cassava foliage












DM intake, % of LW






CP, % in DM






Tithonia foliage, % of  total  intake






a,b,cMeans within rows with different letters differ at P<0.05

Growth rates were increased by 22 and 29% when Tithonia was supplemented with foliage of cassava and Jackfruit, respectively (Table 3; Figure 1). Banana leaves were no better than guinea grass as a supplement for Tithonia. The improved growth rates with cassava foliage and Jackfruit were due to the higher feed intakes, as DM feed conversion was similar on all treatments. The beneficial effects of cassava foliage as a supplement to basal diets low in true protein are well documented (Ffoulkes and Preston 1978: Ho Quang So et al 2002); however, this is the first report of its use as a supplement to a forage already high in true protein (The tithonia foliage contained 24% crude protein in the DM [Table 1]).  It is hypothesized that the synergistic effect of the cassava foliage combined with Tithonia foliage could have been due the indirect effect of the content of condensed tannins (Hue Khuc Thi 2012 ) in the cassava (by protecting the tithonia foliage protein against degradation by rumen microbes) or the direct effect of the bypass characteristic of the protein in the cassava foliage, or a combination of both effects. The same argument can be applied to the even greater impact of the Jackfruit foliage, which is reported to contain up to 13% of condensed tannins (Kongmanila and Ledin 2009). although much lower in crude protein than the cassava foliage.  

Table 3: Mean values for live weight gain and feed conversion for goats fed Tithonia foliage supplemented with Guinea grass or tree foliages


Guinea  grass

Banana leaves

Cassava foliage

Jackfruit foliage


Initial LW, kg






Final LW, kg






LW gain,  g/day






DM feed conversion






a,b,cMeans within rows with different letters differ at P<0.05

Figure 1. Effect on live weight gain of goats of supplementing ad libitum Tithoniia foliage with Guinea grass, banana leaves or fresh foliage of cassava or Jackfruit



We would like to acknowledge the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) in funding this experiment as part of the regional MEKARN project.


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Received 20 June 2012; Accepted 23 September 2012; Published 1 October 2012

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