Forage Fact Sheet: Morus spp. (Mulberry) and Trichanthera gigantea

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Forage Fact Sheet

Morus spp. (Mulberry) and Trichanthera gigantean

Forages Ideally Suited for the Tropics

Morus spp. (Mulberry)

Globally, mulberry leaves are utilized as feed for the silk worm and livestock. It can be used also as vegetable (young leaves and stems), for human consumption. The leaves are used as tea for medicinal purpose and the fruits can be made into preserves.


Mulberri plants grow best on well-drained neutral pH soils. Shallow soils, such as those frequently found on limestone or gravel, are not recommended.  Planting is done from stem cuttings. For fruit production, plants should be spaced at about 3-4 m apart and 75 cm for foliage livestock production.

Nutritive value

The nutritive value of mulberry is one of the highest found in plants and is superior to traditional forages. It is comparable to concentrate feeds (Benavides, 2001), with in vivo and in vitro digestibilities of 78.4 and 89.2 % in goats, respectively.

Table 1. Nutrient composition of Morus spp., as fed basis

Nutrient                                                   Values

Dry Matter, %                                            28.7

Crude Protein, %                                      13.78

Lignin, %                                                  7.1-8.1

Ash, %                                                      13.07

Total P, %                                                0.14-0.24

Calcium                                                    1.8-2.4


Animal production

In Goats, ad libitum dry matter intake of 4.18% of liveweight has been reported by some researchers, which is much higher than in other tree fodders. In a comparative study utilizing goats and sheep, researchers reported higher daily dry matter intakes of mulberry leaves in sheep compared to goats (3.55 vs. 2.74 kg DM/100kg of body weight).

Other published reports indicate that a combination of mulberry and Trichantera

gigantea leaves (as the protein source) and blocks made of molasses, cassava root meal and rice bran  (as  the  energy  source)  gave  better reproduction and growth performance in ruminants compared to animals fed a diet of commercial concentrates.

Research work done at Bodles Research Station indicates that dried mulberry leaves are very palatable to goats. In growth performance studies with weaner goats, animals fed a basal diet of pangola grass hay supplemented with dried mulberry leaf achieved average daily gains similar to goats fed commercial concentrate feed.


Trichanthera gigantean


A native the Andean foothills of Colombia, it is well adapted to tropics, growing in regions that have rainfall varying between 1,000 to 8,000 mm/year. It grows well in acid (pH 4.5) and low fertility but well drained soils.

In agriculture, trichanthera is used as a forage, live fence post and shade tree and can be grown in association with bananas, Leucaena and Gliricidia.  In Columbia it is used to protect water springs from degradation through stream bank section.


First harvest is at 8 harvest is at 8 to 10 months after planting, giving production of foliage of 15.6 and 16.74 ton/ha (fresh matter basis; 0.5 x 0.5 m spacing) and 9.2 tons/year when planted as a living fence (1 x 1 m spacing).

The ideal height at cutting is 1.0m in moderate rainfall regions and 1.3 to 1.5m in regions where the temperature is high and precipitation low.

Trichanthera cont.

Nutritive Value

Trichanthera has no anti-nutritional factors, it is high in digestible fibre and the protein in the leaves has a good amino acid balance (better than soybean). The plant can be fed to both ruminant and non-ruminants alone or combined with other feed sources.

Table 2. Nutrient composition of Trichanthera gigantea as fed basis

Nutrient                                                   Values

Dry Matter, %                                          88.44

Crude Protein, %                                     18.21

Crude Fibre, %                                         12.5

Ash, %                                                        21.80

Total P, %                                                  11.56

Calcium                                                      5

Gross Energy (kcal/g)                              2.9                   

Further Reading

Miller, D., D. McDonald and F. Asiedu. 2006. The Effect of Mulberry Leaf Meal on the Growth Performance of Weaner Goats in Jamaica.



Rosales, M. 1997. Trichanthera

gigantea (Humboldt & Bonpland.) Nees: A

Review. Livestock Research for Rural



Plants with high productive potential will facilitate the adoption of noncereal grain feeding systems …. FOA

Some of our other Publications

  • Goat Care and Management
  • Pig Care and Management
  • The Mulberry Plant
  • Multi-Nutrient Blocks