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Defleecing of Angora and Spanish goats using Leucaena

A. J. Litherland, A. Yami, T. Sahlu, and A. L. Goetsch

Journal of Animal and Feed Sciences 8:525-532. 2000.

Leucaena leucocephala is a tropic tree legume with a high nutritive value (e.g., 14 to 30% crude protein), which is often used in ruminant diets in drought-prone areas of developing countries. However, Leucaena contains mimosine, a free amino acid that can be toxic to unadapted ruminants. In wool follicle bulbs, mimosine inhibits DNA synthesis and, hence, cell division. Following mimosine treatment, dividing fiber-producing follicles of sheep and goats have shed their fibers. Similarly, it is conceivable that mimosine could be used with goats to remove cashmere from active secondary follicles without loss of guard hair in seasonally inactive primary follicles, and perhaps true mohair could be separated from undesirable kemp fibers in the Angora goat as well. However, economical means of mimosine delivery have not yet been established. Leucaena feeding may hold promise in this regard. Therefore, objectives of this experiment were to determine effects of the dietary inclusion of a moderate level of Leucaena on fleece shedding and subsequent fiber characteristics of Angora and Spanish goats. Thirty Angora (16 kg) and 20 Spanish (19 kg) 8-month-old doelings, having not previously consumed Leucaena, were used. A diet of 22.5% Leucaena leaf meal (0.17% mimosine in total diet dry matter) was consumed ad libitum for 8 days starting on November 13, with daily mimosine intake in the first 3 days averaging 56 mg/kg body weight. Results of this experiment indicate potential for use of fed Leucaena as a source of mimosine to induce fleece shedding in goats similar to that for sheep, apparently without marked subsequent effects on productivity. Future research should entail higher dietary levels of mimosine, through greater inclusion of Leucaena or use of Leucaena higher in mimosine. In addition, results of this experiment suggest that further experimentation with Leucaena and mimosine to defleece should consider both mohair- and cashmere-producing goats, because of possible differences in responsiveness to mimosine in shedding and carryover effects.


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