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Date palm leaves and date pedicels

Datasheet

Description
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Common names 
  • Date palm leaves, date palm fronds
  • Date pedicels, date palm racemes
Description 

Date fruit production yields several crop residues, including date palm leaves (fronds), leaf petioles, racemes (without the dates) and pedicels. These by-products are usually distributed to animals during winter, though they can also be used year round (Genin et al., 2004).

Date palm leaves

Date palm leaves and their petioles can be used to feed livestock. They are used traditionally as a complementary feeding source by oasis dwellers (Medjekal et al., 2011). A date palm tree can produce 13.5-20 kg of dry fronds annually (Chehma et al., 2001; Pascual et al., 2000). Given that 1.15 million ha were planted with palm trees in 2009 (FAO, 2011) and assuming an average density of 100-125 trees/ha, it is estimated that 1.9-2.4 million tons of dry fronds are available each year (Genin et al., 2004; Klein et al., 2002).

Date pedicels

Date pedicels are the small stems attaching the fruits to the main stalk of the bunch. While some dates are sold branched (on the pedicels), others are sold after removal of the branches. The discarded pedicels are then used in animal feeding in the same manner as straw (Arbouche et al., 2008). Pedicels represent about 2% of the fruit weight, and it can be estimated that about 145,000 tons of pedicels were available worldwide in 2009 (FAO, 2011; Chehma et al., 2001).

Distribution 

Date by-products are available in countries of production (see Distribution in the Date palm fruits datasheet).

  • Date pedicels can be found at farm level and on processing sites, where they may be of environmental concern if not used as feed.
  • Date leaves are found in the plantations as a result of annual pruning (Medjekal et al., 2011).
Processes 

Date palm leaves

Date palm leaves can be harvested at senescence and chopped to 2-5 cm length before being fed to animals (Arhab et al., 2006). Removing the coarse midrib and the frond base has been recommended (Bahman et al., 1997).

It is possible to make leaf silage after chopping the fronds and mixing them with urea, or with urea and a carbohydrate-rich material such as molasses, citrus pulp or beet pulp (Ziaei et al., 2009). Silage can also be made from chopped stems or fronds (45%) mixed with cull dates (35%), wheat bran and urea (Khorchani et al., 2004).

Fronds can also be treated with ammonia to improve their protein value and DM digestibility (Hassan, 2006; Arbouche et al., 2008).

Date pedicels

Date pedicels have a low protein content that decreases over time. Pedicels chopped to 2-5 cm length and treated with urea have a higher nitrogen content (stable during storage) and a higher nutritive value. Urea-treated pedicels can be stored for a year under black plastic sheets or a mixture of clay and chopped straw (Arbouche et al., 2008).

Environmental impact 

By-products

The by-products of date production have always been recycled by farmers and local populations, a practice considered as "an eloquent example of integrated sustainable use of renewable material resources" (El-Mously, 2001). There is a long tradition of using cull dates and date pits to feed animals, and the crop residues serve as raw materials to create household items, furniture and building materials (El-Mously, 2001).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Date palm crop residues are all low-protein, high fibre by-products, mostly suitable for ruminants as a source of fibre.

Date palm leaves

The crude protein concentration of date fronds is usually low, about 5-7% DM (Arhab et al., 2006; Genin et al., 2004; Medjekal et al., 2011; El-Hag et al., 1992), though higher figures have been reported (10.6 and 16.5% DM; Al-Yousef et al., 1993 and Ziaei et al., 2009). The protein content of the leaves varies seasonally: in Saudi Arabia, protein values for two date palm varieties were found to fluctuate between 8.5-9.5% DM in November-December and 7.5-8.0% DM in June-July (Bacha et al., 1993).

Fibre content is always high: NDF varies from 60 to 90% DM, ADF ranges from 42 to 65% DM and ADL ranges from 10 to 20% DM (Arhab et al., 2006; Genin et al., 2004; Medjekal et al., 2011; El-Hag et al., 1992; Ziaei et al., 2009). These variations can probably be explained by the stage of maturity (young leaves harvested green or after the onset of senescence). There are also differences in feeding value between whole leaves or those with the midrib and petioles removed. Date palm leaves contain high levels of phenols and condensed tannins (Arhab et al., 2006).

Date pedicels

The composition of date pedicels is very similar to that of wheat straw: about 4% DM of crude protein and 34% DM of crude fibre. Pedicels can thus be used in the same manner as straw (Arbouche et al., 2008).

Potential constraints 

Pesticide residues

Dates are fumigated to kill insects, often with methyl bromide (CH3Br) (Glasner et al., 2002). The maximum residue level for methyl bromide on dried fruits was set at 2 mg/kg by the Codex Alimentarius (Codex Alimentarius, 2011). Other pesticides are used, including carbamates and organophosphates, which may leave residues (Khan et al., 2001).

In organic date palm production, carbon dioxide is used instead of methyl bromide (Glasner et al., 2002).

Ruminants 

The nutritive value of date palm crop residues has been extensively studied due to their widespread availability in the countries where date production is important. Both the energy and protein values of these by-products are low, generally comparable to that of cereal straw (Arbouche et al., 2008). Moreover, the crude fibre is not very digestible (45-50%; Chehma et al., 2001), which explains the generally low DM and OM digestibilities of these by-products.

Date palm leaves

Date palm leaves, like cereal straw, can be treated with ammonia to improve their protein value and DM digestibility (Hassan, 2006; Arbouche et al., 2008). In vivo DM digestibility of date fronds is low, values reported are between 38 and 55% (Chehma et al., 2001; Al-Yousef et al., 1993; Pascual et al., 2000), the lower values being for dry fronds (Chehma et al., 2001). In vitro gas production of dried palm leaves is lower than that of barley straw, with a longer latency time, indicating a low DM degradability (high fibre and low protein) (Medjekal et al., 2011). However, some authors have noted that there is a discrepancy between the low gas production values (less than 20% has been reported; Genin et al., 2004) and in vitro DM digestibility, and the higher in sacco DM degradability, similar to that of a good forage such as vetch-oat hay. This difference may be due to the high levels of phenols and condensed tannins that may affect gas production and in vitro analysis but not in sacco measurements (Arhab et al., 2006).

Dairy cows

In lactating dairy cows fed on high-concentrate diets, date palm leaves can be used instead of cereal straw as a buffer to prevent acidosis. The replacement of barley straw by date palm leaves (4 kg DM/d) has no effect on milk yield (15 kg/d) and total daily DM intake (16.8 kg DM) (Bahman et al., 1997). When 4 kg of senescent date palm leaves were offered daily to dairy cows during a 196-day study, voluntary intake of the leaves ranged from 2 to 3 kg DM according to season (Bahman et al., 1993). Less positive results have been reported. Feeding lactating dairy cows with NaOH-treated and ensiled date palm leaves at 30 or 40% of the diet (based on wheat offals, poultry manure and a concentrate) resulted in lower milk yields than when the cows were fed alfalfa hay and concentrate. But date palm leaves could be a viable alternative economically because of their low price and widespread availability, though the costs of the other supplements may outweigh the benefit of palm leaves (Narendran et al., 1986a; Narendran et al., 1986b).

Sheep

In sheep, voluntary DM intake and in vivo DM digestibility of dried date palm leaves given as the sole feed were 44g DM/kg W0.75/d and 38% respectively (Chehma et al., 2001). Like straw, palm leaves can be treated with urea to improve their nutritive value. However, urea-treated ensiled date palm fronds, supplemented by a concentrate made of local by-products, was shown to support only the maintenance requirements of growing sheep and very low weight gain over 120 days (Mahgoub et al., 2007). Apparent in vivo DM, NDF and ADF digestibilities of this diet were only 39, 33 and 25%, respectively, explaining the low animal performance.

Goats

In goats, the voluntary intake of date palm leaflets was higher than that of the whole frond (leaflets + rachis) (70 vs. 53 g/kg W0.75/d), though there was no significant difference in DM digestibility or digestible energy (Pascual et al., 2000). A diet containing 20% date leaves, 20% date pits, 49.5% barley and 10% dried fish fed young kids resulted in a similar or slightly higher voluntary DM intake, in vivo DM digestibility and weight gain when compared to a diet based on cereal grain and soybean meal (El-Hag et al., 1992).

Date palm pedicels

Date pedicels are similar to straw and should be used in the same way in ruminants (Arbouche et al., 2008). Pedicels are more or less comparable to fronds, but actual results depend probably on the precise nature of the materials offered to (and eaten by) the animals. It has been observed that sheep do not eat the racemes whole but select the less tough pedicels. Sheep fed date pedicels ate less DM (26 g/kg W0.75/d) than those fed palm leaves but in vivo DM digestibility of the date pedicels was higher (48%) than for palm leaves. Crude fibre digestibility (49%) was similar to that of the leaves (Chehma et al., 2001). In goats, the voluntary intake of pedicels was similar to that of whole leaves but lower than that of leaflets (52 vs.70g/kg W 0.75/d) and their DM digestibility was lower (44% vs. 54%) (Pascual et al., 2000).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 56.8 48.7 64.8 2
Crude protein % DM 6.6 5.1 8.1 2
Crude fibre % DM 38.5 36.6 40.4 2
NDF % DM 75.8 1
ADF % DM 58.7 1
Lignin % DM 22.0 1
Ether extract % DM 1.9 1
Ash % DM 12.4 11.6 13.2 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.3 *
 
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 45.6 1
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 42.0 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.3 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 5.9 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 22.0 1

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Al-Yousef et al., 1993; Genin et al., 2004

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:32

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 92.2 90.0 94.4 2
Crude protein % DM 4.8 3.9 5.6 2
Crude fibre % DM 31.9 30.7 33.0 2
NDF % DM 81.5 73.5 89.4 2
ADF % DM 59.8 54.2 65.3 2
Lignin % DM 14.6 8.7 20.5 2
Ether extract % DM 2.0 1
Ash % DM 12.9 10.5 15.3 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 16.9 *
 
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 7.0 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.0 1
 
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 44.5 1
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 40.9 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 6.9 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 5.6 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 51.4 1

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Chehma et al., 2001; El-Hag et al., 1992

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:32

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 90.4 3.3 86.3 94.8 6
Crude protein % DM 9.6 5.3 3.9 15.4 5
Crude fibre % DM 33.0 2.3 30.1 36.6 6
NDF % DM 54.8 14.0 48.1 83.3 6
ADF % DM 41.4 6.2 37.9 53.9 6
Lignin % DM 10.3 4.6 7.8 19.7 6
Ash % DM 7.6 2.5 4.6 11.3 6
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.2 *
 
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 48.1 1
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 44.4 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.1 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 6.5 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 58.4 1

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Arbouche et al., 2008; Chehma et al., 2001

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:32

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 41.6 37.7 45.5 2
Crude protein % DM 3.2 3.1 3.2 2
Crude fibre % DM 49.7 48.8 50.5 2
NDF % DM 82.9 82.4 83.4 2
ADF % DM 57.0 55.1 58.9 2
Lignin % DM 14.7 13.4 16.0 2
Ash % DM 8.6 7.9 9.2 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.6 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Genin et al., 2004

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:33

References
References 
Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Delagarde R., 2015. Date palm leaves and date pedicels. Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/8012 Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:35

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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