Integrating tropical legumes with condensed tannins into ruminant grass-based diets for sustainable production

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $100,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: Puerto Rico
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Elide Valencia
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: tropical legumes


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research


    Gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN; Homonchus contortus) account for the greatest the economic loss to small ruminant farmers in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. Legumes can increase animal performance and condensed tannin (CT) containing forages exhibits anthelmintic properties. Use of CT legume calliandra had positive GIN control in Puerto Rico (fresh and dry), but calliandra was not effective in the US Virgin Islands. Monitoring anemic animals and feeding of CT legumes (deworming banks) can reduce anthelmintic use. Perennial peanut, Morus and pigeon pea can improve small ruminants nutrition in the different agro-ecological zones of Puerto Rico.

    Project objectives:

    Research objectives were: (i). Determine intake, digestibility and nitrogen balance of lambs fed diets of tropical grass hay (eg. blue stem; Dicanthiumannulatum or guineagrass; Panicummaximun Jacq.) supplemented with tropical legumes with condensed tannin (CT) [perennial peanut (Arachis spp.); desmodium (Desmodium heterocarpum(L.) DC. Subsp. ovalifolium (Prain.) cv. Maquenque, calliandra (Calliandra calothyrus)] and pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan), (ii). Determine average daily gain and parasite load of lamb-crops creep grazing CT tropical legumes (perennial peanut, desmodium, calliandra and pigeon pea), (iii) On-farm demonstrations of CT legumes and their effects on parasite control on small ruminants, and (iv). Prepare economic costs and returns of forage and small ruminant production on conventional dewormers vs. dewormer banks.

    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.