The nutritive value of diets predominantly of dried cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz.) tubers supplemented with protein concentrates, and roughage were measured in three experiments using steers.
In Expt 1 the digestibility of diets of dried, chipped cassava tubers and tops (80:20) or rolled sorghum grain and cotton seed hulls (80:20), supplemented with 4 or 8% groundnut meal and urea, was determined. The apparent digestibility coefficients of organic matter (OM) of the cassava diets with 4 or 8 % groundnut meal (0·77 and 0·80, respectively) were significantly (P < 0·01) higher than grain diets with 4 or 8% groundnut meal (both 0·74). The digestibility of starch in the cassava diets was significantly (P < 0·01) higher than in the grain diets (1·00, 0·99, 0·94 and 0·93, respectively). There were no significant differences in the digestibility of the N component (0·62 and 0·61 v. 0·58 and 0·59, respectively). The N retained (g/day) was lower (P > 0·05) with cassava (7·8 and 6·8 v. 11·1 and 10·5, respectively) and was utilized (g/100 g apparently absorbed N) less efficiently (P > 0·05) (18 and IS v.28 and 27, respectively).
The high apparent digestibility of the cassava diet suggests that cassava could replace cereal grain in intensive finishing diets. The N retention data suggest that groundnut meal is no better than urea as a N source.
In Expt 2, 15 steers with a mean initial weight of 173 kg were individually fed pelleted diets of sorghum grain, cassava plus urea or cassava plus meat and bone meal (90 concentrate: 10 roughage). The cattle fed the grain diet ate significantly (P < 0·01) more OM (4·3 v. 3·4 kg/day), grew faster (P < 0·01) (1·21 v. 0·85 kg/day) and slightly more efficiently (P > 0·05) (3·6 v. 3·8 kg/kg) than cattle fed cassava with urea. Cattle fed cassava with meat and bone meal were intermediate between the two treatments for intake and daily gain (3·7 and 1·06 kg/day, respectively) but had the best feed conversion (3·5 kg/kg). The acetic/propionic acid ratio was similar on all three diets (1·2, 1·6 and 1·4:1, respectively), but the ratio of propionic/butyric was significantly (P < 0·01) different (5·8, 2·7 and 2·7:1, respectively).
In Expt 3, 15 other steers with mean initial weight of 195 kg were individually fed pelleted cassava diets with 0, 5 or 10% fishmeal (82 cassava: 18 roughage). The intake of OM (4·2, 4·5 and 4·7 kg/day, respectively), daily live-weight gain (0·98, 1·27 and 1·32 kg/day, respectively) and feed conversion (4·3, 3·7 and 3·7 kg/kg, respectively) were all better in cattle fed cassava with fishmeal. The proportions of volatile fatty acids in the rumen fluid were similar to that recorded in cassava fed cattle in the earlier trial.
It is concluded that cattle fed high energy diets based on dried cassava tubers can perform well. Although feed intake and daily gain of cattle fed cassava may be lower than for cattle fed grain diets, the conversion of food to live-weight gain should be similar or better.