If correctly managed, Gliricidia sepium can provide fresh feedstuff to cattle, sheep and goats during periods of scarcity. Its palatability varies from place to place, depending on climatic and soil conditions. This could be due to aromatic antinutritional factors such as flavonol and total phenols (Wiersum et al., 1992).
Familiarisation to Gliricidia sepium is required so that cattle can eat it readily and benefit from its high protein content (Wiersum et al., 1992).
With heifers, gliricida could replace up to 25% of the crude protein of green maize (Rekha Kurup et al., 2004). Supplementation with gliricidia brought forward the onset of puberty and enhanced global animal performance (Gonzalez et al., 2003). Gliricidia seemed palatable to calves grazing it, and resulted in increased dry matter availability and daily weight gain (Simon, 1999). With young cattle (Zamora et al., 1994) and steers (Abdulrazak et al., 1996), supplementation of a basal diet with Gliricidia sepium enhanced dry matter intake and body weight gain.
Feeding Gliricidia to sheep leads to mixed results. Supplementation with Gliricidia sepium of a concentrate/Brachiaria basal diet up to 25% of dietary crude protein resulted in decreases in dry matter intake and body weight gain (Merkel et al., 1999a; Merkel et al., 1999b). Likewise, sheep fed 50% Gliricidia sepium and 50% Pennisetum purpureum had a poor growth response (Grande et al., 2005). Nevertheless, Gliricidia sepium supplementation had positive effects on dry matter intake and digestibility when added to low quality diets in Mexico (Alayon et al., 1998) and Australia (Ahn et al., 1989).
In growing sheep fed on intensive diets, soybean meal can be replaced by gliricidia without altering animal growth (Archimède et al., 2009).
Gliricidia sepium is a good forage for goats (Srinivasulu et al., 1999). Goats prefer the whole foliage (leaves and stems) to the leaves (Keopaseuht et al., 2004), though they find gliricidia less palatable than Leucaena leucocephala (Odeyinka, 2001). Supplementation with Gliricidia sepium of basal diets such as Panicum hay, rice straw, sorghum, rhode grass or natural grass usually had positive results, with increases in daily weight gain, dry matter intake and digestibility of dry matter, organic matter and crude protein (Kenya: Abdulrazak et al., 2006; Vietnam: Nguyen Van Hao et al., 2001; India: Srinivasulu et al., 1999; Indonesia: Ondiek et al., 1999 and Sukanten et al., 1996). Mixing gliricidia with an energy source such as maize bran was also successful (Ondiek et al., 1999; Srinivasulu et al., 1998). Inclusion levels ranged from 30% to 50% of the diet (on a DM basis). The whole foliage is more digestible than the leaves (Keopaseuht et al., 2004).