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Effects of Dietary Mulberry Leaf Powder in Concentrate on the Rumen Fermentation and Ruminal Epithelium in Fattening Hu Sheep

College of Animal Science and Technology, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, China
The Seri-Cultural Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhenjiang 212018, China
Department of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 218;
Received: 25 March 2019 / Revised: 3 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 May 2019 / Published: 6 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of Agricultural By-Products in Animal Feeding)
PDF [1294 KB, uploaded 6 May 2019]

Simple Summary

Rumen is the center of nutrient digestion, absorption and metabolism of ruminants. Ruminal microbes such as cellulolytic bacteria degrade the feed nutrients into smaller molecules, which are absorbed into the body mainly through rumen epithelium. Our study found that mulberry leaf powder supplementation improved the development of rumen epithelium, especially stratum basale, the most important layer of rumen epithelium for the energy metabolism. Our study suggests that supplementing ruminants with mulberry leaf powder may be one of the nutritional strategies that can improve the digestion and absorption performance of ruminants.


Mulberry leaves have been used as a protein source in replacing concentrates of domestic animals, however, little is known about the relationship between supplementation level and the development of rumen epithelium. This experiment aimed to investigate the effects of different proportions of mulberry leaf powder (MLP) in dietary concentrate on rumen fermentation and rumen epithelium morphology in fattening Hu sheep. Forty three-month-old male Hu sheep with an initial body weight of 16.5 ± 0.6 kg (BW ± SD) were chosen and randomly divided into five treatments: 0% (control), 15% (T15), 30% (T30), 45% (T45) and 60% (T60) of MLP in concentrate, respectively. The results showed that the dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) in treatments T15 and T30 have no significant difference with respect to the control treatment, but DMI and ADG in treatments T45 and T60 were lower than the control treatment (p < 0.05). The apparent digestibility of organic matter (OM) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) increased linearly and quadraticly as MLP supplementation increased (p < 0.05). The concentration of ammonia (NH3-N) trended to decrease linearly with the increase of MLP supplementation (p < 0.1), whereas the microbial protein (MCP) concentration increased linearly as MLP supplementation increased (p < 0.05). In the results of rumen epithelium morphology, the width of stratum corneum was reduced, whereas the width of ruminal papillae increased (p < 0.05), and the width of stratum granulosum and stratum basale also increased as MLP increased. In summary, MLP supplementation could improve nutrient digestibility, the development of rumen papillae and stratum basale. However, high content MLP (45%–60%) supplementation decreased the growth and food intake performance of fattening Hu sheep. Therefore, 30% MLP is recommended to supplement in concentrate for fattening Hu sheep. View Full-Text
Keywords: mulberry leaf; rumen fermentation; rumen microbial; ruminal epithelial; Hu sheep mulberry leaf; rumen fermentation; rumen microbial; ruminal epithelial; Hu sheep

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Ouyang, J.; Wang, M.; Hou, Q.; Feng, D.; Pi, Y.; Zhao, W. Effects of Dietary Mulberry Leaf Powder in Concentrate on the Rumen Fermentation and Ruminal Epithelium in Fattening Hu Sheep. Animals 2019, 9, 218.

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