Banj oak foliage is commonly used for fodder in the Himalayas. In the Garwhal region, farmers owning cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats, judged banj oak third after moru oak (Quercus floribunda) and kharsu oak (Quercus semecarpifolia) in a survey to rank wild fodder species. However, while they ranked banj oak first for its abundance and use, they gave it low scores for nutritional value and milk production value (Dhani Arya et al., 2011), an empirical assessment that has been confirmed by in vitro measurements. The overall conclusion is that banj oak is a low quality fodder that is preferably used under conditions of scarcity (Barman et al., 2008).
In the Northern grasslands of Pakistan, a survey of 11 tree fodder species found that banj oak leaves had the lowest palatability in sheep (Sultan et al., 2008).
Digestibility and energy value
In vitro DM and OM digestibilities of banj oak foliage have been found to be very low (36-45%, Barman et al., 2008; Singh et al., 2005; Sultan et al., 2008), and similar to those of wheat straw or rice straw (Singh et al., 2005). In vitro OM digestibility and metabolizable energy (5.5 MJ/kg DM, gas method) of banj oak foliage were among the lowest in a comparison of 12 fodders in the Indian Himalayas (Singh et al., 2005), and in a comparison of 11 fodder tree leaves from the Northern grasslands of Pakistan (Sultan et al., 2008).
Despite their poor nutritional value, banj oak leaves have been used efficiently as a protein supplement in low quality diets. When banj oak leaves were used to supplement grass hay in bull diets, increasing the inclusion of leaves at up to 60% of the diet had a positive effect on feed intake and protein intake (Paswan et al., 2010). In growing cattle, supplementation of wheat straw with a concentrate and banj oak leaves (39:31:30 ratio) resulted in a higher feed intake (+ 41% DMI), higher DM, OM and NDF digestibilities (52, 55 and 49%, respectively) and a higher ME intake (+ 17%). Including banj oak leaves at 30% in a wheat straw-based diet increased N retention and body weight gain (Sharma et al., 2008). Feeding banj oak leaves to growing cattle as 33 or 65% of the diet decreased their parasitic load (Sahoo et al., 2004).