Animal feed resources information system

Blue lupin (Lupinus angustifolius)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Blue lupine, European blue lupine, narrow-leaf lupin, narrow-leaved lupin, New Zealand blue lupin, sweet lupinseed [English]; lupin à feuilles étroites, lupin petit bleu [French]; blaue Lupine, schmalblättrige Lupine [German]; lupino azzurro [Italian]; tremoçeiro-azul [Portuguese]; lupino azul, altramuz azul [Spanish]; blålupin, fingerlupin [Swedish]


Lupinus angustifolius L.; Lupinus angustifolius subsp. angustifolius; Lupinus angustifolius subsp.reticulatus


Blue lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) is an annual legume. It is the most important legume crop grown in Australia where it is known as narrow-leaf lupin and is mainly used as forage and silage or as pasture (during late winter or early spring).

The majority of lupin production is used by stockfeed manufacturers for animal feed with ruminants (cows and sheep) the largest market followed by pigs and poultry. There is small but increasing use of lupins in aquaculture. About 40% of lupin production in WA is retained on-farm as stockfeed and seed or is traded on the domestic market to supply the sheep, dairy, pigs and poultry industries (Paterson et al., 2016).


Blue lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) is a self-regenerating annual legume that reaches (20-) 60-150 cm in height (Ecocrop, 2017). Blue lupin is deeply taprooted (the root reaches 2.5 m deep). The stems are robust and hairy. The leaves are digitate and the leaflets are finer than in white lupin (Wolko et al., 2010, Wiley, 2009). The inflorescence is a terminal, 3-30 cm long, false raceme bearing many blue pea-like flowers. Pods: Large pods that shatter readily once mature making it difficult to direct harvest. Pods are susceptible to bud worm (Heliothis) damage when green. Seeds: Produces 'hard' seeds due to an impervious seedcoat and can remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years.  This means it is almost impossible to eradicate Blue lupins from a paddock.  Seed size is around 230 mg (Wiley, 2009).

It usually has blue flowers but some new varieties have white flowers (Ecocrop, 2017).


Blue lupin is used as forage and silage and, for late winter and early spring grazing. Sweet cultivar seeds are used as protein additive in animal feed. Bitter cultivars are grown mainly for soil improvement. It is a good source of honey (Ecocrop, 2017).


Lupins (Lupinus spp.) are broadly distributed throughout the world. There are two geographically separate groups: new World species and Old Word species among which 4 are cultivated, one in from the New World and the 3 others from the Old World. All of them being smooth seeded. Lupins occupy almost all kinds of habitats from sea level to altitudes up to 4000 m (Wolko et al., 2010).

Yellow and blue lupins prefer light to medium textured, well-drained soils that are acid or neutral soils (Wolko et al., 2010).

White lupin can be grown from sea level up to an altitude of 740 m (Ecocrop, 2017). In Ethiopia, it is cultivated between 1500 and 3000 m altitude (Jansen, 2006). White lupin does better in places where average monthly temperatures during the growing season range from 18°C to 24°C and where rainfall is about 400-1000 mm during the same period. White lupin is tolerant of frost but temperatures of -6°C to -8°C during germination and -3° to -5°C at flowering stage are deleterious to the crop. Moisture deficiency is also harmful during the reproductive period (Jansen, 2006).

Blue lupin does well on low to moderately fertile, well-drained, light or medium textured and mildly acidic to neutral sands and sandy loams (Wolko et al., 2010). Blue lupin does not withstand waterlogged soils (Wolko et al., 2010). Under conditions where P is limitinglupins form specialized cluster root structures and/or release P-mobilizing carboxylates that free it from insoluble forms (Lambers et al., 2012). However, blue lupin is less effective thant white and yellow lupins for P and Zn uptake (Wolko et al., 2010).

Statistics about lupin production are nesting all types of lupins. Worldwide lupin (Lupinus spp.) production in 2014 was about 1 million tons. Main lupin producer (625 000 tons) is Australia which is known to produce blue lupin.

Other important producers are Poland, Russia, Germany, Belarus, and Ukraine, totalizing 290000 tons of which most lupins are yellow lupins (TerresUnivia, 2016). The remaining production is due to France and Mediterranean countries like Italia, Spain, Greece and Egypt. This production is about 25 000 tons and is likely to be mainly white lupin (FAO, 2017).

Forage management 

Blue lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) crop can be grown as a winter annual in Mediterranean environments or as a summer annual in temperate regions (Ecocrop, 2017).

Blue lupin seeds intended for sowing should be tested for anthracnose infection and inoculated with adequate rhizobium (Rhizobium lupini) if the crop has not been cultivated in the stand previously (Métivier et al., 2013; Jansen, 2006). Seedbed should be weeded prior to sowing operations (Arvalis, 2014; Pgro, 2014). Sowing rates are variable, depending on climatic conditions and soils and on habit type: branchy narrow leaf types should be sown at approximately 70-80 seeds /m² in UK and non-branchy narrow leaf types should be sown at about 90-110 seeds /m2. Increasing seed rates of narrow leaf lupin up to 125 – 150 seed /m2 could  increase yield potential and improve row width and population (Pgro, 2014).

Blue lupins are susceptible to anthracnose (C. gloeosporoides or C. acutatum), a common seed-borne disease in countries with humid summers. They are however less susceptible than white lupin to this disease wich can be effectively controlled through fungicide treatments (Pgro, 2014).

 Flowers in April-June in the United States. (Monegat; autumn sown in Brazil it provides groundcover in 80-120 days, flowers after 80-120 days and mature in 105-150 days). 

Environmental impact 

N-fixing legume and sustainable P management

Lupins are N-fixing legumes that are reported to fix 300-400 kg N /ha in Europe and Australia (Jansen, 2006). Lupins can provide benefit to the following crop (Pgro, 2014). Lupins are valuable legumes for sustainable P management : in soils depleted in available P, lupin plants form specialized cluster root structures and/or release P-mobilizing carboxylates that free it from insoluble forms (Lambers et al., 2012).

Soil improver and phytoremediation

Thanks to its deep taproot lupin plants improve soil texture and drainage. Lupins can be used after a summer metal-accumulating plant used for phytoremediation. Lupins may extend the phytoremediation period and increase bioavailability of metals in polluted soil under recovery (Fumagalli et al., 2014).

Nutritional aspects
Potential constraints 


Lupin seeds (Lupinus spp.) are known to contain significant levels (from 4 to 20%) of oligosaccharides of the raffinose family (Pisarikova et al., 2009; Saini, 1989). In the seeds of blue lupin species, alpha-galactosides level was reported to be about 60 g/ kg DM or a similar level expressed as 40.8-73.5 g /kg organic matter (Roth-Maier et al., 2004; Gdala et al., 1997). Oligosaccharide level is variable and may depend on variety but also on conditions of cultivation and harvest (Pisarikova et al., 2009).


Sweet lupin seeds

No information on the utilization of sweet lupin seeds in rabbit feeding seems available in the international literature (February 2017). Nevertheless it's known that if included in correctly balanced diets, whole or dehulled sweet lupin seeds could authorize growth performances similar to soybean meal in growing pig feeding (Batterham, 1976; King et al., 2000) or in chicken feeding (Rubio et al., 2003; Nalle et al., 2011). Thus, Lupinus angustifolius seeds may be considered as a potential raw material for rabbit feeding.

The theoretical main nutritional characteristics for rabbit are close to those of white lupin: 35-36% crude protein deficient in sulphur-containing amino acids (Petterson, 2000), a calculated digestible energy content of about 14 MJ/kg DM (Lebas, 2016) and a content of lipids of 3.5 to 6% with 6-8% of alpha-linolenic acid in the total fatty acids (Chiofalo et al., 2012).

Whole plant Forage

Dried sweet lupin forage used as the main source of fibre in a rabbit diet induces growth rate and feed efficiency close to those obtained with white lupin or alfalfa meal used as control in the same conditions (Harries et al., 1999).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 
Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/23099 Last updated on March 29, 2017, 10:51

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