Discipline: calf raising; 

The cost of supplementation is always a factor to be considered in calf starter diets. A nutritious and less expensive substitute in a supplement of a commercial pelleted concentrate is a possibility and lucerne leaf-meal was consequently considered by the authors referenced below.

In their study they determined the chemical composition, in vitro degradability and potential energy supply of composite diets formulated with the lucerne leaf meal (LLM) and the commercial pelleted concentrate. The in vitro rumen degradability for dry (IVDMD) and organic matter (IVOMD) were estimated at 0, 4, 10, 18, 24 and 48 hours whereas the neutral detergent fibre and crude protein degradability were estimated at 24 and 48 hours using the  Daisy II incubator. Rumen fluid was obtained from calves less than 50 days old. The treatments were (A) the pelleted concentrate alone (PEL), (B) 65% pelleted concentrate and 35% LLM (P65L35) and, (C) 50% pelleted concentrate and 50% LLM (P50L50). The diets were iso-nitrogenous. The Large Ruminant Nutrition System (LRNS) was used to predict the % Rumen Nitrogen degradability and the energy density of the diets.

The lucerne leaf-meal had a gross energy of 16.2 MJ per kg and 25% crude protein in the dry matter (DM). PEL alone was high in starch and bound protein compared to the other diets. The inclusion of LLM in the diets increased the calcium levels but tended to decrease the phosphorus levels. No difference was observed in IVDMD before 10 hours, but diets with LLM were better with longer incubation. Higher effective DM degradability levels were found with LLM inclusion but the rate of degradation did not vary. Effective degradability was 88.0 and 92.0% for P65L35 and P50L50, respectively. Diet C had higher % rumen nitrogen degradability, total digestible nutrients, net energy content for maintenance and net energy for growth values.

The results clearly showed that lucerne leaf meal could be considered as a complementary protein-rich forage in diets of neonates and pre-weaned calves, also because it is highly palatable and sometimes cheaper.


J. L. Marumo, F.V. Nherera-Chokuda,, J.W. Ng’ambi & M.C. Muya, 2016. Nutritional value of lucerne leaf meal inclusion in dairy calf diets. In the 51st Congress of the Grassland Society of SA, Wilderness, 4-8 August 2016.