Used as hay or silage and combined with other alternative forages during periods of fodder scarcity, manicoba can be a valuable option for improving the feed efficiency of livestock production systems in semi-arid areas, due to its high drought-tolerance, low production cost, longevity and palatability (Araujo et al., 2002).
In 2 and 3 year-old Zebu-cross bullocks, the addition of 2.5 kg manicoba to the ad libitum diet of Cenchrus ciliaris hay significantly increased intake and daily live-weight gain from 132 to 757 g in a 70-day trial (Salviano et al., 1989).
Sheep and goats
Manicoba hay is palatable to sheep and goats. Including manicoba hay in lamb diets from 30 to 70% increased DM intake from 59 to 71 g/kg W0.75 (Araujo et al., 2001). In another experiment the digestibility of manicoba hay in sheep and goats was found to be quite low (40-50% for DM, protein and energy), possibly due to its high lignin content. However, the total energy supply was considered to be satisfactory due to the high DM intake (98-99 g/kg W0.75). Nitrogen degradability was probably low due to nitrogen binding in ADF (Barros et al., 1990). Supplementing sheep with different levels of manicoba hay resulted in moderate live-weight gains and nutrient intakes, thus making it a good supplement during periods of forage scarcity (Araujo et al., 2001; Araujo et al., 2004). Lambs given manicoba hay as the sole feed gained 100 g/d and it was suggested that added concentrates would increase weight gain (Almeida et al. cited by Araujo et al., 2002). Diets consisting of 30% manicoba hay and 70% concentrate have been used routinely in practice (Cartaxo et al., 2009).