Nutritional Value of Opuntia ficus-indica Cladodes from Portuguese Ecotypes

1 Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco, School of Agriculture, 6001-909 Castelo Branco, Portugal
2 CERNAS-IPCB - Supported by national funds through Foundation for Science and Technology
3 University of Extremadura, 06071 Badajoz, Spain


RODRIGUES, A. M., F. I. PITACAS, C. M. G. REIS and M. BLASCO, 2016. Nutritional value of Opuntia ficus-indica cladodes from Portuguese ecotypes. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 22: 40–45

The use of Opuntia ficus-indica cladodes as a forage for ruminants has been very important in the semi-arid and arid regions of the world. O. ficus-indica cladodes can be fed to small ruminants especially in periods of the year when there is low quality and quantity of pasture. In Mediterranean regions like South of Portugal during the rainy season the availability of pasture is quantitatively and qualitatively satisfactory, but in critical times of the year the shortage and low nutritive value of forages causes decreased productivity in the ruminant’s production of milk and meat. The aim of this study was to evaluate the nutritional profile of the cladodes from five different Portuguese ecotypes of O. ficus-indica, in comparison with cultivar “Gialla”, and also evaluate its potential use as a feed for ruminants. Among populations’ significant differences were found in crude protein and ash content, and different groups were unfolded. In general, O. ficus-indica has a low content of DM, CP and NDF and high content in NFC and EM. Given the importance that DM, PB and the NDF have for nutrition and feeding of ruminants we conclude that O. ficus-indica can be used in feeding small ruminants provided that animals have access to dry forage and a feed source with high CP content. Used as fodder, O. ficus-indica seems to be an optional interesting feed for small ruminants in driest period of the year.

Key words: Opuntia ficus-indica, spineless cactus, nutritive value, animal feed, Mediterranean region
List of abbreviations: ADF – acid detergent fiber; ADL – acid detergent lignin; CP – crude protein; cv – cultivar; DM – dry matter; ME – metabolizable energy; NDF – neutral detergent fiber; NFC – non fiber carbohydrates; OFI – Opuntia ficus-indica; TDN – total digestible nutrients

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