Sweet potato vines used as fodder
Animals fed with sweet potato vines benefit from its high nutritional value. Sweet potato fodder can be the main source of protein that animals need for healthy and rapid growth because the vine contains between 15 and 30% protein.
Sweet potatoes contain up to 70% dry matter that animals can digest and transform into various nutrients for their growth, milk production and meat quality.
In addition, sweet potatoes decompose easily in the rumen (the first stomach of a cow, goat or sheep).
Benefits of sweet potato vines as fodder
Sweet potato vines are high quality feed for calves because of their high nutrient content, palatability (calves like that) and protein content.
When calves are fed regularly with sweet potato and Napier grass, farmers can reduce by half the milk they give to their calves – which means sweet potato is a good substitute for milk.
Calves fed Napier grass supplemented with sweet potatoes grow faster than those fed Napier grass alone.
Sweet potato vine is fed to pigs, mainly because of its high crude protein content, high digestibility (over 65 percent) and amino acid content.
Whether given fresh, dried or in silage, sweet potato vines are a good source of protein and amino acids (compounds that combine to form proteins such as lysine, glysine, tryptophan, methionine etc).
Smallholder farmers can reduce the use of expensive feeds by feeding sweet potato creepers to pigs.
Sweet potato vines (creepers) are fed to dairy cows to supplement to their dairy fodder rations such as grass, sorghum or corn stalks.
The sweet potato vines allow dairy cows to produce more milk because they increase the energy content of the ration, which allows the farmer to save the cost he would have to bear by providing more energy feed.
Studies have shown that sweet potatoes can help increase dairy cow milk production by up to 70 percent.
Goats love sweet potato vines. Daily weight gains of 44 g to 82 g were recorded in goats fed sweet potato vines and cottonseed meal.
Sweet potato vines provide enough raw protein and energy to support goats in milk and meat production, even during dry periods when there is less forage. Feeding goats with sweet potato vines provides cheap nitrogen and increases feed efficiency; sweet potato vines can comfortably replace concentrates, especially in males (goats).
Sweet potato creepers can be fed to gilts (female pig under 6 months of age) and sows (mother or adult female pig). Sweet potato leaves can cover 50 percent of the daily food needs of sows and gilts and 20 percent in lactating pigs.
Sweet potato silage can be prepared alone or with added lysine, cassava leaves or sweet potato roots.
Mixed creepers and sweet potato tubers fed to sheep have been found to increase nutrient intake (and use by sheep) – This combination reduces the cost of feeding sheep.
Lambs (young sheep) have been found to increase their daily weight gain by 50 to 60 g per day.