Use sweet potato vines as fodder

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I would like to know what nutrients sweet potato vines provide to dairy cows, sheep, goats and even pigs.

Sweet potato vines have many nutritional benefits for humans and animals. Sweet potato is delicious, easy to grow, cheap and beneficial because it is loaded with essential vitamins. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins B6, C and D. They contain a good amount of iron, magnesium and potassium. Like carrots, they are also rich in beta-carotene, which is essential in the treatment of vitamin A in the body.

More protein

Sweet potatoes contain nutrients in tubers and their leaves. Animals fed with sweet potato vines benefit from its high nutritional value. Sweet potato fodder can be the main source of protein that animals need for healthy and rapid growth because the MS of the vine contains between 15 and 30% protein. However, the quality of the fodder depends on the proportion of leaves and stems. Unlike forage legumes such as calliander, leucaena, gliricidia or mucuna, sweet potatoes do not contain compounds that prevent the absorption of their proteins. Sweet potatoes contain up to 70% dry matter that animals can digest and transform into various nutrients for their growth, milk production and meat quality. In addition, sweet potatoes decompose easily in the rumen (the first stomach of a cow, goat or sheep).

The following animals can benefit from sweet potato creepers:

Dairy cows

Sweet potato creepers can be fed to dairy cows as a supplement to their dairy fodder rations such as grass, sorghum or corn stalks. When given in addition to these forages, sweet potato vines allow dairy cows to produce more milk because they increase the energy content of the ration, which allows the farmer to save the cost he would have to bear by providing more energy feed. Studies have shown that sweet potatoes can help increase dairy cow milk production by up to 70 percent.

Calves

Sweet potato vines have proven to be high quality feed for calves because of their high nutrient content, palatability (calves like that) and protein content. When calves are fed regularly with sweet potato and Napier grass, farmers can reduce by half the milk they give to their calves – which means sweet potato is a good substitute for milk. Calves fed Napier grass supplemented with sweet potatoes grow faster than those fed Napier grass alone, although calves fed a combination of Napier grass, sweet potato creepers, alfalfa, desmodium, leucaena and sesbania sesbania do much better than those fed Napier grass and sweet potato alone.

Sheep

Mixed creepers and sweet potato tubers fed to sheep have been found to increase nutrient intake (and use by sheep) – This combination reduces the cost of feeding sheep. Lambs (young sheep) have been found to increase their daily weight gain by 50 to 60 g per day.

Goats

Goats love sweet potato vines. Daily weight gains of 44 g to 82 g were recorded in goats fed sweet potato vines and cottonseed meal. Sweet potato vines provide enough raw protein and energy to support goats in milk and meat production, even during dry periods when there is less forage. Feeding goats with sweet potato vines provides cheap nitrogen and increases feed efficiency; sweet potato vines can comfortably replace concentrates, especially in males (goats).

Pigs

Sweet potato vine is one of the most important feeds for pigs, mainly because of its high crude protein content, high digestibility (over 65 percent) and amino acid content. Sweet potato lianas, whether given fresh, dried or in silage, are a good source of protein and amino acids (compounds that combine to form proteins such as lysine, glysine, tryptophan, methionine etc). Smallholder farmers can reduce the use of expensive feeds such as soybeans and fishmeal by feeding sweet potato creepers to pigs. Fresh sweet potato vines can be used to feed pigs without any negative effect on their health and can be used for growth and finishing (pigs being slaughtered for the market) as they value other feeds fed to pigs.

Vines increase the digestibility and performance of the feed. Sweet potato lianas should be fed to pigs throughout the day (ad libitum). The average daily forage of fresh sweet potatoes for a pig weighing 50 kg should be 3 kg. Sweet potato lianas can be given either as a unique protein supplement or in combination with other forages such as mulberry or manioc leaves.

Fresh sweet potato foliage offered to weanlings can reduce cereal concentrates by 10 percent, resulting in good results in weight gain, feed conversion, mortality and herd elimination. It was found to increase food consumption by 25 percent.

Sows :

Sweet potato creepers can be fed to gilts (female pig under 6 months of age) and sows (mother or adult female pig). Sweet potato leaves can cover 50 percent of the daily food needs of sows and gilts and 20 percent in lactating pigs. Sweet potato silage can be prepared alone or with added lysine, cassava leaves or sweet potato roots.

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