Tropical Grasslands (1992) Volume 26, 89–93

The effect of drying on the intake and rate of digestion of the shrub legume Calliandra calothyrsus


1CSIRO, Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, Davies Laboratory, Townsville, Queensland; 2CSIRO, Division of Tropical Animal Production, Davies Laboratory, Townsville, Queensland.


Although Calliandra calothyrsus is a productive tropical shrub legume with high crude protein content, it has not been well accepted in tropical countries as a feed source. To investigate the reputed poor acceptance of calliandra we studied the voluntary intake and in sacco digestibility of fresh and dried leaf material in experiments at Townsville.
Using Merino wethers, there was a large and significant difference (P < 0.01) between the voluntary intake related to body weight (W) of fresh (59 g DM/kg W0.75) and low temperature dried (25°C) calliandra (37 g DM/kg W0.75). The higher level of voluntary intake was associated with a higher in sacco digestibility (using Droughtmaster steers) of fresh material than oven dried at 25°C or 65°C or freeze dried leaf material. Low temperature drying for quite short times (3–6 hours) depressed rate of digestion and could also depress voluntary intake.
It is recommended that only fresh material be used to evaluate calliandra. It is suggested that the same principle may well apply to other forages, especially shrub legumes.

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