Madre de Agua - a versatile feed crop

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By Edna Garde

Edible Landscape

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


IT IS amazing how God created many living things on earth including even the fodder for the animals. Yes! It is our subject for the day. Have you ever used madre de agua (Trichantera gigantean) for your livestock and poultry? I do, and I will share with you the blessing of using this amazing fodder for the livestock industry.

Actually, mine at home is part of my landscape. I can't remember where I got this wonderful crop but being blessed, I shared it to many people already, not just around the province but even my radio listeners from Panay and other regions. I have planted it at home as soon as I raised my own native chicken.

But I got hold of the information material about the "animal food for the future" as the writer quoted it way back last June 20, 2004 in The Philippine Star. So you can imagine how long enough I campaigned for the use of madre de agua. Why is that so?

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From what I learned, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has done the experiment of this fodder tree. Yes, it is a tree left alone to itself. When BAI brought the planting material in 1997 to the country, they tried feeding it to hogs and the result was great.

The report said that the leaves contain 18 to 22 percent protein. The farmer can substitute his commercial growing-finishing diet of hogs with 20 to 30 percent with madre de agua. The fodder leaves can be fed either fresh or processed into a leaf meal. This is great for commercial raisers especially when the world prices of corn, wheat, soya and other materials get higher and higher every now and then. This is the reason why the BAI campaigned for the use of this fodder and managed to propagate and distribute it.

Madre de agua is otherwise known as Nacedero. It is a non-leguminous tree brought to the Philippines from Latin American country of Colombia. It has been found to grow well in all types of soil and elevations up to 1,800 meters above sea level at low density as 6,700 cuttings per hectare, Dr. Jose Molina of BAI said.

Further, he said, it can be grown between plantation crops and produces 40-60 tons of fresh leaves per hectare.

I've proven that it's easy to take care of. It does not need fertilizer, especially when our surrounding is getting richer every year as we recycle all our bio-degradable into compost and return them back to the ground.

When I visited my friend's farm at the highland of Binalbagan, I was amazed how the cutting I have given her has grown into a tall tree that looks so different from mine which I occasionally cut to give as fresh feed for my chicken.

Technology-wise though, according to BAI, the cuttings can be grown in plastic bags, then transferred in the field after three months. It can be planted directly to the ground and wait for just six months before harvest.

Subsequent cuttings can be done at an interval of 90 days when the saplings height is about a meter above the ground. If the tree is not cut, it can grow up to 20 feet and its verdant green leaves spread into bigger and wider size. That was exactly the picture of my friend's madre de agua.

But tree or bush, madre de agua can be very beneficial to all who use it. It can give your livestock (especially swine) with thinner fat and more flesh but healthier, heavier and reddish meat color and better tasting than those which are not fed with madre de agua.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 29, 2014.

Lifestyle

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