Acacia saligna as a fodder tree for desert livestock and the interaction of its tannins with fibre fractions

A. Allan Degen, Klaus Becker, Harinder P.S. Makkar, Norbert Borowy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Acacia saligna was examined as potential fodder for sheep (27.4 kg) and goats (14.8 kg) raised in arid and semi‐arid areas. This leguminous tree remains green all year and can be grown in deserts using only runoff water. Phyllodes collected in March had a crude protein content of 12.5% dry matter (DM) and high tannin content (tannins as tannic acid equivalent to 11.3% and condensed tannins as leucocyanidin equivalent to 8.3% DM). DM intake was low, amounting to 0.80% and 1.05% body mass daily for sheep and goats, respectively. Sheep lost 227 g day−1 and goats 196 g day−1 while on this diet. Dry matter, organic matter and energy digestibilities were low in both species but were higher for goats than for sheep, and negative digestibilities were measured for acid detergent fibre (ADF) and acid detergent lignin (ADL). Metabolisable energy intake for goats was 121.9 kJ kg−0.75 day−1 and for sheep was 78.6 kJ kg−0.75 day−1. Apparent N digestibility was 17.5% and 0.9% for goats and sheep, respectively, and both species were in negative N balance of 0.25–0.30 g kg−0.75 day−1. Total water intake and output were higher in sheep than in goats. Extractable tannins were virtually absent in faeces in both species, however, output of condensed tannins and protein in the ADF and ADL fractions were substantially higher. This showed the presence of tannin‐protein complexes in these fractions which explained the negative digestibilities of ADF and ADL. It was concluded that Acacia saligna could not be used as a sole dietary source for small ruminants because of low intake and negative nitrogen balance. This was due mainly to the high tannin content. However, the tree might have a potential as a supplementary fodder due to its high crude protein content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1995


  • Acacia saligna, tannins
  • fodder
  • livestock
  • nitrogen
  • tannins interactions with fibre fractions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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