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Cassava in the Livestock Feed Industry

Cassava is widely used in most tropical areas for feeding pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry. Dried peel of cassava roots are fed to sheep and goats, and raw or boiled roots are mixed into a mash with protein concentrates such as maize, sorghum, groundnut, or oil palm kernel meal and mineral salts for livestock feeding. The leaves and stems of the cassava plant are considered a waste product.

However, analytical tests have shown that the leaves have a protein content equivalent to that of alfalfa (about 17-20%). Feeding experiments also showed that dehydrated cassava leaves are equivalent in feed value to alfalfa. Imports of dehydrated alfalfa in the Far East, mainly in Japan, have reached about 240 000 t/yr.


Therefore, a large potential exists for the exportation of dehydrated stems and leaves of cassava. In Brazil and many parts of Southeast Asia, large quantities of cassava roots, stems, and leaves are chopped and mixed into silage for the feeding of cattle and pigs. This use of cassava is increasing.

Cassava is similar to feed grains as it consists almost entirely of starch and is easy to digest. The roots are, therefore, especially suited to feeding young animals and fattening pigs. Many feeding experiments have shown that cassava provides a good quality carbohydrate, which may be substituted for maize or barley and that cassava rations are especially suitable for swine, dairy cattle, and poultry.

However, cassava cannot be used as the sole feedstuff because of its deficiency in protein and vitamins, but must be supplemented by other feeds that are rich in these elements. The amount of cassava and its products fed to animals as scraps in the tropical regions must be fairly large, but there is no way of estimating it. Barnyard fowls, goats, and pigs probably consume cassava roots and leaves regularly in many parts of the tropics, but a true livestock feeding industry based on cassava has been developed only in very few areas.

In the European Economic Community the highly developed compound animal-feed industry uses dried cassava roots as an ingredient, and large quantities of cassava chips, pellets, and meal are imported into these countries for this purpose. The composition of a compound animal feed varies according to the animal (cattle, pigs, or poultry) as well as to the kind of production (dairy, meat, or eggs). There are many constituents that could be used to supply the main elements in compound feed, such as starch, protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins.

In general, oil cakes are the main ingredients in the feedstuffs for cattle, while feed grains are the most important for pigs and poultry. Cassava products were long used as a raw material for compound feed stuffs until their use declined after the Second World War, when grains became cheaper than cassava products in Europe. When grain prices rose again, cassava products were once more used extensively. The maximum content of cassava products in compound feedstuffs is officially set in many countries (Buitrago et al. 2002). In the Federal Republic of Germany, it varies according to the type, but is generally as follows: 10-40% for pigs, 20-25% for cattle, and 10-20% for poultry. In the Netherlands and Belgium, the figures are much lower.

More than 80% of the industrial animal-feed industry caters for the poultry sector. According to a recent study by SOFRECO on behalf of the European Commission, the commercial poultry sector (i.e. large-scale intensive poultry farms) grew to 8.8. million laying hens and an annual volume of 18 million broilers in 2001. At that time, the same team estimated the share of imported chicken meat at 25% of the domestic demand. In the meantime, the import of chickens has been banned and we assume that the shortfall in supply has been filled by an increase in domestic production. Our estimation of large-scale poultry production is therefore 10 million laying hens and an annual production of (18 times 1.25) 22.5 million broilers.

The feed requirement for a laying hen is 125g/day, while those for broilers are 5 kg per 2 kg of poultry meat (live weight). Using these conversion rates it can be derived that the demand by Nigeria’s large-scale industrial poultry sector was (10 million times 0.125 kg times 360 days) 450, 000t for laying hens and (22.5 million times 2.5 kg) 56, 250t. Consequently the demand for feedstuff by the large-scale poultry farmers was estimated to be slightly over 500, 000t. We further estimated that the demand by medium and small-scale poultry farmers amounted to another 60% of the feed market. This estimation was based on information we received during our survey of the industry, the historical figure of 40 million broilers slaughtered in 1982 (at the high of the poultry production in Nigeria).

Consequently we estimate the present demand for animal feed to be at least 1.2 million t. Another way to arrive at this estimate is to use year 2002 estimates for poultry meat and egg production as estimated by CBN (2003). The total production for these two items was (respectively 107, 000t meat plus 514,000t eggs =) 611,000t . Using the same conversion factor of 2.5, this would imply a demand of 1,527,500 MT feed. Therefore our estimation of 1.2 million t seems reasonable. It is a conservative estimate in the light of Nigerian poultry population statistics. These show that the poultry numbers during 1998 amounted to already more than 100 million head and had demonstrated a steadily increasing trend over successive years.

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