Improving lamb performance with sericea lespedeza and molybdenum

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2013: $10,007.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Grant Recipient: University of Arkansa
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Charles Rosenkrans
University of Arkansa

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management, parasite control
  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures


    This research was conducted to find the effect of prolonged feeding of sericea lespedeza (SL) leaf meal pellets with or without supplemental molybdenum on changes in body weight, serum and liver concentration of trace minerals (TM), hematology, and serum biochemistry. Thirty weaned ram lambs fed 2 lb. of a control (alfalfa pellets) or SL diet. Within the SL group, half of the lambs were treated with molybdenum to restore reduced serum molybdenum observed previously. Treatment with molybdenum increased serum and liver concentrations to that of control fed lambs; however body weight was similar between molybdenum and no molybdenum lambs. Serum and liver concentrations of trace minerals, mainly molybdenum, zinc copper, selenium, and cobalt were reduced in sericea lespedeza compared with control fed lambs. There were changes in most of the hematological and serum biochemical values between diet groups, but most were small and within a normal range and body condition were similar between diet groups. It appears that there were no detrimental effects in long term feeding of sericea lespedeza pellets, as might be practical for parasite control. It may be best to include a good mineral supplement to lambs fed sericea.




    The Southern U.S. has an abundance of pasture for small ruminants, although internal parasites can be challenging. Forage plants rich in condensed tannins like sericea lespedeza (SL; Lespedeza cuneata) may aid in controlling both gastrointestinal nematodes, especially Haemonchus contortus and coccidia species. However, prolonged grazing or feeding of SL leaf meal pellets (> 56 day) decreased weight gain in lambs and kids and serum concentration of trace minerals mainly molybdenum, manganese, zinc and selenium, compared with control diet fed animals. A marked reduction in molybdenum occurred in SL-fed sheep and goats compared with control animals, with as high as 90-fold reduction. Because of the recent popularity of grazing or feeding SL hay or pellets, which are both commercially available, for an aid in the control of parasites, it is important to understand potential limitations to production of small ruminants.



    Project objectives:

    To determine the effect of molybdenum supplementation on changes in body weight and serum and liver concentration of trace minerals in lambs fed SL.


    To determine change in body weight, hematology, and serum chemistry in lambs fed condensed tannins rich sericea lespedeza pellets.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.