Animal feed resources information system

White mulberry (Morus alba)

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 

White mulberry, gewone moerbei, witmoerbei, sang, mûrier blanc, weißer maulbeerbaum, amoreira branca, mora, moral blanco, morera blanca


Morus alba f. tatarica Ser., Morus alba var. constantinopolitana Loudon, Morus alba var. multicaulis (Perr.) Loudon, Morus indica L., Morus multicaulis Perr.

Related feed(s) 

Wide-spreading round-headed tree up to 15 m high with grey or greyish yellow branches bearing thin, rather small light-green leaves.

Nutritional aspects

The leaves are palatable to cattle. In North Africa the coppice shoots are harvested for animal fodder.


Mulberry in pig feeding (Cuba)


Fresh leaves

Fresh Morus alba leaves are well accepted as forage by growing rabbits or by adults in reproduction or not; this was demonstrated in the different parts of the Wold as in Mozambique (McNitt, 1980; Timberlake et al, 1985), in Nigeria (Bamikole et al., 2005), in India (Desmukh et al., 1989; Rohillia et 2000), in Vietnam (Nguyen et al., 2000; Viet, 2006), in Cuba (López et al., 2004), in Venezuela or Mexico (Nieves et al., 2004; Ramos-Canché et al., 2011)

Used as sole feed, fresh mulberry leaves allow maintenance of adult rabbits (Deshmukh et al., 1989) or an acceptable growth rate for fattening rabbits : about 40% of that of rabbits fed a balanced diet (Bamikole et al., 2005). However, if used as sole feed for rabbit does , fresh leaves are not able to provide a normal reproduction (Lopez et al., 2012).

Proposed ad libitum in addition to a concentrate, fresh (or just wilted) mulberry leaves may represent 30-40% and even up to 60% of the total dry matter intake without significant perturbation of growth of rabbits or Angora wool production. Technical or economical advantages depend mainly of the type and quantity of concentrate chosen in the study. Most generally no significant perturbation was observed for carcass traits or physiological parameters obtained even with a high proportion of leaves (McNitt et al., 1980; Nguyen et al., 2000; Rohilla et al., 2000; Bhatt et al.2010; Ramos-Canché et al., 2011; Premalatha et al., 2012).

For rabbit does, lower reproduction traits were observed with Morus alba leaves distributed ad libitum in addition to a restricted commercial diet (60% of the control) than with the control itself or the distribution in the same conditions of Hibiscus rosa sinensis foliage : 5.6 kits born alive per litter vs 7.0 and 7.8 for the 2 other treatments (García Contreras et al., 2009). However if Morus alba leaves are proposed together with other forages such as sugar cane stalks, and leaves of sweet potato or Neonotonia wightii forage in addition to a local concentrate, reproduction traits were considered as perfectly acceptable (Lopez et al., 2004, 2011)

Dried Morus alba foliage

Mulberry leaves dried in the sun or in the shade under a roof were used with success as a feed ingredient for growing or Angora rabbits by numerous authors (Bhatt et al., 2008; Dihigo et al., 2008; Hernández et al., 2014; Ly et al., 2017; Martinez et al., 2005, Nieves, 2009).

Drying in the sun needs 3 to 5 days while drying in the shade needs about 5 days even during the rainy season in the tropics : temperature 25-32°C and humidity of 80-90% (Nieves et al., 2008; Montejo-Sierra et al., 2018). Thus in first analysis sun drying seems to be quicker and therefore more interesting. However drying in the shade in practice is more advisable because the maximum leaves production is observed during the rainy season thus a period propitious to foliage harvesting and storage. In addition, during the rainy season sun drying is difficult (extra work necessary by some unexpected rain fall) and not secure, with potential mycotoxins development, an unacceptable risk for rabbits (Mezes, 2008; Pentón-Fernández et al., 2016; Montejo-Sierra et al., 2018) .

The most frequently acceptable proportion of dried mulberry leaves in a balanced  experimental diet is 25-30% (Prasad et al., 2003; Nieves et al., 2006,) but for experimental reasons it was increased up to 60-75% and even 92%, without health perturbation, and with growth performance in relation with nutrients balance in the final diet (Ferreira et al., 2007; Ramos-Canché et al., 2011, Mora-Valverde, 2012)

Silage of Morus alba leaves

Silage in not a common presentation of feeds for rabbits (Lebas et al , 1996). However a study was conducted during 12 weeks with growing rabbits receiving silage as sole feed. It was silage of imperial grass (Axonopus scoparius) , or a silage made with 70% imperial grass + 30% meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris), or 30% ramie (Boehmeria nivea) or 30% mulberry leaves (Morus alba); a control group received fresh imperial grass only. Growth rate of rabbits was similar (134 to 141 g/week) with the 3 silages containing 2 types of forages, values significantly higher than those obtained with exclusive imperial grass silage (123 g/w) or fresh imperial grass (109 g/w) (Villa et al., 2016) . This demonstrate that even with that presentation (silage), mulberry leaves mixed with an other forage are suitable to feed growing rabbits.

Nutritive value

Morus alba leaves are usable to feed growing rabbits or Angora rabbits  without particular restriction other than nutrients content of the daily ration. As an illustration of this statement Morus alba leaves are sometimes included as control in the study of other raw materials (Singh et al., 1984;  Premalatha et al., 2012; Vázquez Pedroso et al., 2016). For reproduction some additional experiments would be welcome before unrestricted recommendation. But the main problem seems more related with classical nutrients balance, only few experiments were performed, than with the presence of a particular group of molecule even if the molecules with known pharmacological activities are numerous in mulberry leaves, but  presently, this situation should not be excluded  (Lopez et al., 2004; Garcia Contreras et al., 2009; Chan et al., 2016).

In the formulation of balanced diet, mulberry leaves should be used as a forage with relatively moderate content of fibre (20-50% NDF) , but with a high content of proteins (15-22% DM) and a high content of digestible energy : 11.4 MJ/kg DM on average, as demonstrated in the table xx. Proteins are highly digestible for a forage 73% on average, value higher for example than that of alfalfa (60-65%). These proteins are relatively rich in lysine (120% of requirements) but deficient in sulphur amino acids (86% requirements) . In addition, mulberry leaves are very rich in calcium (2 times recommendations) but deficient in phosphorus  (Lebas, 2013).

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

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).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 28.4 3.4 24.2 35.1 9
Crude protein % DM 19.4 3.9 11.5 25.3 13
Crude fibre % DM 15.7 2.4 13.3 20.2 6
NDF % DM 32.0 9.9 22.5 55.2 9
ADF % DM 19.4 2.8 15.4 22.5 8
Lignin % DM 5.0 1.7 3.9 7.0 3
Ether extract % DM 5.6 2.3 3.0 7.4 3
Ash % DM 13.2 4.2 7.9 22.2 13
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.1 17.4 18.1 2 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 27.4 7.5 22.0 36.0 3
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.5 1.8 2.4 5.7 3
Potassium g/kg DM 17.5 1
Sodium g/kg DM 2.0 1
Magnesium g/kg DM 5.6 4.0 7.2 2
Zinc mg/kg DM 109 1
Copper mg/kg DM 20 1
Iron mg/kg DM 782 1
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 7.7 1
Tannins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 14.4 12.7 16.0 2
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 72.7 4.9 67.0 79.2 5
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 69.1 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.5 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.0 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 71.4 5.9 62.1 77.6 5

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


Alibes et al., 1990; Cheema et al., 2011; Chiv Phiny et al., 2008; CIRAD, 1991; Dongmeza et al., 2009; González-García et al., 2008; Gowda et al., 2004; Kanpukdee Suchitra et al., 2008; Leterme et al., 2006; Makkar et al., 1998; Sen, 1938; Shayo et al., 1999

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:22

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/123 Last updated on February 11, 2019, 15:24