The effect of drying on the intake and rate of digestion of the shrub legume Calliandra calothyrsus.
Calliandra calothyrsus is a productive tropical shrub legume with high crude protein content. In an intake trial 6 Merino wethers, 18 months old and 27 kg, were fed on fresh calliandra leaf and poor quality Chloris gayana hay 50:50. In 2 digestion trials fresh, wilted, oven-dried (25 and 65°C) and freeze-dried calliandra leaves were incubated in sacco in the rumen of steers and leaves wilted for 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 48 h at 25° were incubated likewise. There was a large difference (P<0.01) between voluntary intake related to body weight of fresh (59 g DM/kg0.75) and low temperature dried calliandra (37 g DM/kg0.75). The higher level of intake was associated with a higher in sacco digestibility of fresh material than oven-dried or freeze-dried leaf material. Low temperature drying for 3-6 h reduced rate of digestion and could reduce intake. It is recommended that only fresh material be used to evaluate calliandra, and maybe the same principle should apply to other forages, especially shrub legumes.