Nutritional value of several Opuntia species Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/zc77ss535

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  • Little is known about cactus nutrients, their proportions in different species and the variability of these proportions with season. In the scant literature available on Opuntia species, no systematic survey has been published to document and compare the nutritional qualities of different species. Also, no studies have been done to determine the seasonal variability of these nutrients. Past work on cactus has been mostly concentrated on Opuntia ficus-indica. This study was designed to determine and compare major pad nutrient content in five Opuntia species, and assess the seasonal variability in one of them: Opuntia fragilis (from John Day Fossil Beds, Central Oregon). The other species included in the analyses were: 0. engelmannii, 0. polyacantha, 0. filipendula and 0. versicolor, and were collected from different regions in the South western United States. Differences in nutrient content were detected between the species included in the analyses, but no single or group of species was consistently low or high in all the components analyzed. 0. engelmannii was the lowest in crude fiber components: 31.18% cell wall constituents, 7.9% cellulose and 2.89% lignin. Consequently, this species had the highest In vivo crude protein (51.80%), In vivo and In vitro dry matter digestibility (57.22% and 59.22%, respectively). The energy measurements indicated that, this species, 0. engelmannii had the highest digest ible energy (2098.54 kcal/kg). Conversely, 0. versicolor, the unique cylindropuntia included in the study, had the highest crude fiber content: 39.85% as Neutral Detergent Fiber residue, 13,73% as cellulose and 3.86% as lignin (second highest). With regard to dry matter digestibility, this species was among the group of lowest rates: 48.30% and 53.62 % respectively as In vivo and In vitro levels. This species, CK versicolor, had the highest crude protein content (6.83%), and the second highest in digestible energy (1927.15 kcal/kg) but it was the lowest in phosphorus concentration (0.08%). O. polyacantha had the highest lignin content (4.79%) and the lowest In vivo dry matter and crude protein degradability rates: 44.61% and 36.61%, respectively. The mineral analyses resulted in a highest calcium level for O. filipendula (6.83%) and a highest phosphorus content in the case of O. fragilis (0.29%). With regard to the seasonal variability, the analyses indicated a general trend of increase in fiber and calcium content from spring to summer. Nearly, these nutrients maintained constant proportions from summer to fall. This was primarily due to the fact that spring growth has reached maturity during this period. A slight decline of fiber content occurred from fall to winter: More soluble components have been synthesized during this period. Phosphorus content was not significantly different between seasons. Spring samples had highest crude protein (3.73%) and digestible energy (1922.33 kcal/kg) content. This was mainly due to rapid growth of the plant, considerable quantity of young pads was included in the spring collection. The seasonal variability was not highly significant. Moreover, content differences between seasons were not very high and a large part of these statistical variability could be inherent to the sampling procedure used. From a nutritional stand point, these small differences should not be taken into consideration in feeding CK fragilis to livestock through the year. All the five Opuntia species analyzed resulted in lower crude fiber content and higher dry matter and crude protein digestibility than grass hay samples (Agropyron cristatum and Bromus spp.) analyzed under the same conditions. When compared to alfalfa (Medicago satiya), cactus pads appeared to be intermediate in forage quality. All the cactus samples had higher calcium levels than the samples reference. In addition, 0. engelmannii had dry matter and crude protein digestibility rates close to those of alfalfa samples. Its digestible energy was only 20% lower than that of alfalfa. From this it could be concluded that the Opuntia species analyzed can fit in livestock rations with attention given to their low phosphorus and protein content. These Opuntias could be fed during any season but are needed, the most, as a late summer and fall supplement and during droughts when other forages are scarce or expensive to feed.
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