Tropical Grasslands (1989) Volume 23, 84–91

AGRONOMY AND FORAGE QUALITY OF ALBIZIA LEBBEK IN THE SEMI-ARID TROPICS

J. BRIAN LOWRY

CSIRO Division of Tropical Animal Production, Davies Laboratory, University Road, Townsville, Qld 4814, Australia

Abstract

The tree legume, Albizia lebbek (Indian siris), although known elsewhere as a useful forage tree and planted for shade in Queensland, has never been grown for feed in northern Australia. Measurements from trees in the Townsville area show that mature trees in open woodland can make substantial edible dry matter available without cutting or browsing through the natural seasonal fall of leaves (c. 60kg/tree), flowers (30 kg/tree), and pods (30 kg/tree). The existence of a significant feed resource in the fallen inflorescence was unexpected and previously unreported. In addition the tree canopy has a positive effect on grass dry matter production.
The tree products were each fed as the sole diet to sheep for determination of dry matter intake, dry matter digestibility, and nitrogen digestibility. Green leaf was markedly more digestible (64%) in November, shortly after leaf change, than in May (49%). Fallen leaf (protein 9.5%) collected from the seasonal leaf change was readily eaten by sheep (1130 g/day) although digestibility was rather low (44%). The fallen flowers were also readily eaten (protein 23%; intake 958 g/day; digestibility 57%). Pods were a rich protein source (19%) and were available over a longer period than leaf or flower.

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