Moringa Oleifera in livestock feed

Moringa Oleifera is an amazing plant that grows really well without requiring a lot of water.  It can also produce tons of biomass per acre if it’s managed properly.

Studies have been performed which claim that milk and production can be increased dramatically when livestock feed is supplemented with moringa leaves, but there is some conflicting information.  Here are some of the reports that seem to be the most credible.

Another factor to consider is that Moringa Oleifera grows much more intensely then traditional livestock feeds, so that even if Moringa doesn’t convert to weight gain as efficiently as traditional feeds, it is immensely cheaper to produce.  Alfalfa produces on average, around 7 tons per acre, Oats produce as much as 2.5 tons per acre and Soybeans grown with perfect conditions can produce as much as 6.5 tons of nutritious protein filled beans per acre.  With perfect conditions, and all the inputs at optimum levels, the record production of an acre of alfalfa is at 11 tons per acre.

Moringa has been reported to produce more then 280 tons of green matter per acre.  Approximately %70 percent of that total is reported to be stems and wood, which can be used for paper production or biomass power production.  Traditional feed crops require fertilizer, pesticides and weed killers, which are all expensive.  Inputs required for Moringa production are significantly lower.

Moringa leaves are packed with protein, calcium and other important components of a balanced diet for livestock, and they can be grown with much less fertilizer and pesticides then traditional forage crops.

moringa oleifera seedlings

moringa oleifera seedlings

There are many things to consider related to producing moringa oleifera on a larger scale using commonly available agricultural techniques.  Researching, investigating and experimenting with this plant is a very important part of feeding a planet full of people

Drumstick Tree – Moringa Oleifera

Moringa trees have many benefits and possible uses.  My primary interest is in their use as biomass energy production.  With irrigation, recommended spacing is 4″x4″ and they can be topped every 35 days.  Without irrigation, recommended spacing is in rows 16″ apart with 2″ spacing between trees. Wider spacing results in more leaves and shorter plants with thicker stems.  Closer spacing results in a doubling of the total biomass per acre.

Seeds germinate 10-15 days after sowing.  Harvesting every 35 days results in the highest recorded biomass yields.

Other possible techniques to increase yield:

  • Partial harvesting, leaving some leafy material to increase recovery time
  • Fertilizing with composted plant material
  • Plant closer together initially and then remove slower growing plants

This information is also applicable to use as a livestock feed.  Studies show a significant increase in milk production, weight gain and birthweight among cows fed a partial diet of Moringa Oleifera leaves.

Bibliography

Moringa Oleifera – Supertree

Just got some Moringa Oleifera seeds in the mail the other day and am sprouting them right now.  This tree is a growing machine.  It has the ability to produce hundreds of tons of biomass per acre, each year.  It is the latest of my experiments with super-plants.

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The idea of a tree like Moringa is fascinating to me for many reasons.  Here is a tree that can produce hundreds of tons of green matter per acre per year which can be converted directly to energy, or fed to livestock, or made into paper, or other things like building materials.  What an amazing plant.  It can also produce nutritious food, oil, protein and course fibers.

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I want to learn about producing food and energy for the population.  Biomass power production is one of the most viable power production methods because it’s actually good for the planet.  Although it’s labor intensive, it is safe labor, and it is sustainable and draws carbon out of the atmosphere.  The important thing to remember about biomass power production is that there are often positive side effects which need to be capitalized, whereas fossil fuels almost always have negative side effects that have to be mitigated.

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These seeds were sent to me from India.  I purchased 100 seeds on ebay for $6.  Experiments like this help me to learn more about what I am interested in, which is plants and how we use them to improve the quality of our lives.  These trees also make fantastic livestock fodder in places where they grow readily, and are one of the top plants for biodiesel fuel production.