Babassu meal can be used in ruminant diets. Due to its low cost, it can be an economically viable substitute for more expensive sources of protein and energy. It is palatable and used in the same way as coconut meal (Göhl, 1982). Babassu meal is included in tropical grass silages to improve their nutritive value, but inclusion of more than 5-10% DM seems to degrade the fermentation characteristics of silage (Vieira et al., 2007).
Degradability and digestibility
Babassu meal has a lower DM and ruminal crude protein degradability (about 50%) than many other by-products, due to a low soluble fraction (Marcondes et al., 2009). Total apparent DM, OM or NDF in vivo digestibilities in sheep are low (also about 50%) compared to other by-products (Rocha Junior et al., 2003).
In dairy cattle (350 kg, 8 kg milk/d), replacing of wheat middlings by babassu meal (1:1 on DM basis, 9% of total dietary DM) did not affect milk production and DM intake (Silva, 2006). In dairy heifers, 15% (diet DM) of babassu meal did not change the feeding and ruminating behaviour of the animals (de Castro et al., 2009).
Reported maximum inclusion rates of babassu meal in sheep are in the 10-20% range. Voluntary DM intake started to decrease with as little as 10% (diet DM) of babassu meal in the diet (Xenofonte et al., 2008). The unsafe inclusion rate was higher in other experiments (20%, Sousa, 2003; 30%, Sousa et al., 2007). Weight gain and carcass quality of finishing lambs started decreasing at 10% (Xenofonte et al., 2009) or 20% (Sousa, 2003). One experiment reported inconsistent results on in vivo diet digestibility (lower digestibilities up to 20% and higher digestibilities at 30%) but concluded that the lower total DM intake at 30% made this rate unsuitable (Sousa et al., 2007)