Ananthi,T, R.Arumugam, A.Yasotha and S. Preethi
Department of Livestock Production Management – Veterinary College and Research Institute, Udumalpet – 126.


In India, fodder is cultivated only 4 to 5 per cent of total cultivated area. The available green fodder is not sufficient to meet the actual requirement of green fodder to the livestock. At present green and dry fodder deficit in our country is fodder available for feeding the livestock is 32 and 23 per cent respectively. In the developing countries, crop residues like paddy straw, sorghum stover and legume stover, haulms etc., are fed to animals due to non-availability of green fodders. Generally, crop residues are having poor nutritive value and will not increase the animal productivity and leads to poor performance and indirectly affects animal health. In most of the places concentrate feeds are provided for cattle to increase the milk yield, but the diet is not balanced and also increases the feed cost and affect the income of the farmers.  Hence, in order to increase the green fodder availability, fodder trees can be cultivated on boundaries, farm bunds, waste lands, backyards, road sides, edges of the pond, canal etc. Trees can able to produce higher green fodder per unit land area. Trees require less water when compared to annual fodder crops. It can extract water from deeper layers and able to withstand drought than other agricultural fodder crops. Trees also requires less inputs in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and labour, as are needed high for growing of agricultural crops.

Of all the tree species used as fodder, mulberry (Morus sp.) occupies a significant place as it grows anywhere, either in the form of a tree or shrub. Mulberry is being cultivated for rearing silkworm in China, India and other countries. Apart from this, used as animal feed for a long time.

Dry matter %28.4
Moisture %71-75
Crude Protein %5-10
Crude Fat %0.64-1.50
Total Ash %4.50
Crude fibre %9.90-13.85
Carbohydrates %8-13
Energy Kcal/100 g69-86
Neutral Detergent Fibre (PDF) %8-11
Acid Detergent Lignin (ADL) %3.40-8.10
Hemicellulose %2.50-12.80
Ascorbic acid, mg/100 g160-280
β-carotene, mg/100 g10.000-14.688
Iron mg/100 g4.70-10.40
Zinc mg/100 g0.22-1.12
Calcium mg/100 g380-786

Plant description:

Mulberry is a fast-growing deciduous woody perennial plant. The form of the tree can vary from pyramidal to drooping. It has a deep root system.

Stems: Its sparsely pubescent stems are sub-erect and woody at the base and may be up to 5 m long.

Leaves: The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, and often lobed and serrated on the margin. Lobes are more common on juvenile shoots than on mature trees.[2][4] The trees can be monoecious or dioecious.

Flowers and Fruits: Flowers are borne in the axils of leaves. Mulberry fruit is a multiple, about 2–3 cm long. Fruits are collective, fleshy, white, lavender, deep red to black and has a sweet flavour when fully ripe.

Fig 1. Field view of Mulberry

Distribution of mulberry

Mulberry can be grown successfully in all conditions, even in tropical, subtropical and temperate climates. It can survive with rainfall ranging from 400-4500 mm per annum. Although the optimum temperature for growth is between 18 and 30°C, mulberry can survive even when the temperature goes beyond 48°C or below 0°C.

Soil: Mulberry grows well in soils that are flat, deep, fertile, well drained and loamy to clayey. The ideal range of soil pH is 6.2 to 6.8.

Propagation: It can be established by seeds or cuttings.

Sowing: Seeds can be sown directly or in containers.

Cuttings: Should be 30-60 cm long with brownish green bark and cut at a 45-degree angle at both ends.

Transplanting:  Plant the cuttings/saplings at a spacing of 60 x 60 cm or 90 x 90 cm.

Time of planting:

  • Plant during rainy season
  • Avoid planting during winter and summer months

Fertilizer: Recommended dose of fertilizer for irrigated crop is 300:120:120 kg NPK/ha.

Forage Management: Mulberry can be harvested 3-4 months after planting, this is followed by a cutting interval of 6-8 weeks. When harvesting, it is important that the branches be cut in an upward direction, this will prevent any stripping of the bark that will cause fungal infections. Mulberry could have a dry matter yield between 2-47 tonnes/year/hectare providing there are favourable growing conditions.

Nutrient composition of fresh mulberry leaves

Mulberry as animal feed

Mulberry is excellent forage for both ruminant animals and monogastric animals during its young shrub stage (Sánchez 2002). Mulberry leaf supplementation can improve the efficiency of the whole diet. It can be considered as a perennial source of feed for most of the year.

Mulberry has been shown as ideal forage to replace commercial concentrates. A normal standard for feeding small ruminants is to feed a 4% of the body weight of the animal on a dry matter basis.

For example:

  •  According to the table above the average dry matter of Mulberry is 28.4% which means that 100 Kg of fresh Mulberry contains approximately 28.4 kg of dry matter and 71.6 kg of water.
  • A 100 kg animal would require 4 kg DM and Mulberry should comprise up to 20% of the daily intake therefore will be 20% of 4 Kg is 0.8 kg DM.
  •  To provide 0.8 kg DM of Mulberry would require 100/28.4*0.8= 2.8 kg of wet Mulberry leaves to be fed.

Mature small ruminants should be fed 2.5% body weight on a dry matter basis.

Text Box: Nutrient	Composition
Dry matter %	28.4
Moisture %	71-75
Crude Protein %	5-10
Crude Fat %	0.64-1.50
Total Ash %	4.50
Crude fibre %	9.90-13.85
Carbohydrates %	8-13
Energy Kcal/100 g	69-86
Neutral Detergent Fibre (PDF) %	8-11
Acid Detergent Lignin (ADL) %	3.40-8.10
Hemicellulose %	2.50-12.80
Ascorbic acid, mg/100 g	160-280
β-carotene, mg/100 g	10.000-14.688
Iron mg/100 g	4.70-10.40
Zinc mg/100 g	0.22-1.12
Calcium mg/100 g	380-786
 Source: Srivastava et al. (2006)

Fig 2. Feeding of mulberry leaves to Goats

On average, 15-20 kg of either full mulberry leaves (if there were any in excess after rearing) or leftover leaves with stalks can be fed to the cows.

Mulberry leaves increase milk quality (protein and fat) and quantity. Mulberry feeds are excellent feeds for high yielding animals because the leaf CP and cell wall contents, combined with structural carbohydrates and ash are proof enough and thus, can be provided either in freshly or dryness forms in the compounded feeds.

Venkatesh et al. (2015) reported that feeding mulberry leaves to cows and goats increased the quantity of milk tremendously and also a drastic increase in the production of milk, protein, and fat in the cattle and goat because of the mulberry supplementation. In addition, supplementing the diet with mulberry leaves has been observed and proven to result in added body weight in both growing lambs and goats. 

In Poultry feed, mulberry leaf meal can be included up to 9% to get increased egg size and production, improvement in yolk colour, increased Vitamin K and beta carotene in the eggs than commercial feed.     


Production of green fodder on cultivated land is difficult due to area allocated for cultivation of fodder crops are less, lack of irrigation facilities and other inputs; and low economic returns compared to cash crops. Mulberry can be grown under varied climatic condition, including fallow and wastelands not fit for agriculture can be used, totally or partly, for producing nutritious green fodder. Feeding mulberry as part of the daily ration of cows will improve the quality and quantity of milk and reduce calving intervals. Mulberry can be included as part of the feed in small ruminants and poultry to increase the animal body weight, egg production and quality of eggs.