Kenaf Shows Potential as a Finishing Diet for Lambs (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Sat Dec 22 00:07:14 EST 2001

Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 09:48:24 -0500
From: ARS News Service <isnv at>
To: ARS News List <ars-news at>
Subject: Kenaf Shows Potential as a Finishing Diet for Lambs

Kenaf Shows Potential as a Finishing Diet for Lambs

ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Jennifer Arnold, (301) 504-1624, jaarnold at
December 17, 2001

Can a crop grown to make paper be used to feed animals? Agricultural
Research Service scientists say yes, based on their studies in El Reno,

ARS nutritionist William A. Phillips and colleagues at the Grazinglands
Research Laboratory in El Reno compared two crops as a roughage source in
the finishing diets of lambs. One was kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.), a
relatively new crop to the United States. The other, alfalfa (Medicago
sativa), is the most commonly grown U.S. hay crop.

A member of the hibiscus family, kenaf is related to cotton and okra and
does well in many parts of the United States. Although not widely grown
here, it has been grown around the world as a source of fiber. In the United
States, kenaf has been cultivated  primarily for pulp in papermaking.

Previous research at El Reno has shown kenaf could replace alfalfa pellets,
a commonly used protein supplement in sheep and cattle diets, as a crude
protein supplement for lambs fed bermudagrass or fescue hay, without
affecting feed intake or gain. The researchers used the lambs as an
experimental model for cattle and concluded that the same response would be
likely in cattle.

In the most recent project, 53 spring-born lambs were randomly assigned to
pens and fed one of two different diets. Each diet contained 86 percent
corn, nearly 6 percent molasses, more than 1 percent limestone and ammonium
chloride, and 5 percent of either ground alfalfa hay or ground kenaf hay.
Data from the study showed kenaf hay can replace alfalfa hay in the
finishing diets of lambs without significantly affecting feed intake or

Alfalfa is a perennial legume used in high-concentrate diets fed to lambs
and cattle to provide protein and dietary fiber. To produce alfalfa, farmers
must make a multi-year commitment of land and resources that is not always
optimal for some integrated cropping-livestock enterprises. In some cases,
unconventional annual crops like kenaf would provide producers with more
flexibility than a perennial crop--including the option of marketing kenaf
as a livestock feed or a source of fiber.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research
agency. The Grazinglands Research Laboratory is on the web at:

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