INTEGRATED ANIMAL PRODUCTION IN THE OIL PALM PLANTATION
INTEGRATED ANIMAL PRODUCTION IN THE OIL PALM PLANTATION
S. Jalaludin, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor,
The oil palm industry offers a number of opportunities in terms of feed
resources which can be utilised for animal production. These feed resources
range from forages in the inter-rows to the by-products from the oil palm.
Many of these by-products, e.g. palm kernel cake and oil palm fronds, are
rich in nutrients and have been proven to be feeds of high quality.
Integrating animals with oil palm plantations will ensure long-term
profitability as well as sustainability of the agriculture industry in a
very competitive environment.
Oil palm cultivation is rapidly expanding within the tropical zone and
South-East Asia is the leading producer of palm oil, accounting for more
than 80% of the world's output. Palm oil, with a 20% market share, has
emerged as one of the dominant vegetable oils, second only to soya bean
oil. During the past three decades, the production of palm oil grew at the
fastest rate (8% per year) compared to rape seed oil (7.2%), soya bean oil
(4.5%), and sunflower oil (3.7%). Palm oil production is expected to
increase further with the expansion of oil palm cultivation and improved
cultivation techniques. The oil palm industry, with diverse products and
by-products, offers two opportunities for the promotion of animal
production. Firstly, the products and by-products from the industry are
valuable feed resources with the potential to be utilised for expanding
animal production. Secondly, the forages in the inter-rows can be consumed
by ruminants. Integrating animal production with oil palm plantations should
take into account all the available resources, i.e. the products and
by-products of the industry as well as the forages grown in the inter-rows.
Palm Oil By-Products
Palm oil is available in about 15 different grades, ranging from crude to
semi-refined, refined, crude fractionated, refined fractionated oil and
refinery by-products. Palm oil is currently the main fat source in feeds for
monogastric animals, but it is not commonly fed to ruminants because it can
result in rumen disorders, metabolic problems and reduced milk fat content
(Palmquist, 1995). However, calcium soaps of palm oil origin, given to dairy
cattle to increase energy intake, produced many positive effects of an
energy supplement (Palmquist, 1995). This is attributed to the high level of
unsaturated fatty acids (primarily oleic acid) which escape rumen
degradation, leading to enhance digestibility. This makes calcium soaps of
palm oil origin a good source of by-pass energy.
OIL PALM BY-PRODUCTS
Palm press fibre
Palm press fibre (PPF) is a fibrous residue of oil palm fruits after oil
extraction. The potential of using PPF for ruminant production is enormous
but, due to its bulkiness and low feeding value, the amount consumed and
digested is inadequate to support production at an economic level.
Therefore, the use of PPF could be enhanced by improving its nutritive value
by chemical treatment and by manipulating the ration to optimise rumen
Treating PPF with chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, urea and ammonium
hydroxide has shown varying degrees of improvement in feed intake and
biodegradability. For example, DMD increased from 43.3% to 58.0% when PPF
was treated with 8% sodium hydroxide (Jelan et al., 1986). Buffalo could be
induced to increase voluntary intake of PPF (360 g/head/day) which was
sprayed with molasses and supplemented with fish meal. Animals fed
urea-treated PPF had significantly higher voluntary feed intake when energy
and protein were supplemented compared to those receiving only protein or
energy. This is a clear indication that PPF is limiting in both energy and
protein. A feeding system based on PPF needs to be carefully balanced with
supplements in order to ensure optimum production.
Palm Kernel Cake
In Malaysia, more than 60,000 tonnes of palm kernel cake (PKC) are produced
annually. The world production of PKC far exceeds the stated amount. PKC has
a fairly high nutritive value and is being used extensively for fattening
steers in feedlots. Crude protein content of PKC ranges from 7.7 to 18.7%
depending on processing methods and the degree of impurities such as shell
content. At 70% DMD, PKC is readily consumed. Hutagalung (1985) reported
that cattle fed 6-8 kg PKC combined with small quantities of feed additive
(e.g., minerals and vitamins) produced daily growth rates of 0.7-1.0
kg/animal. Similar results were obtained under farming conditions by Jelan
et al. (1986).
There are two intrinsic problems in the utilisation of PKC, namely, the high
oil residue and the copper content. The oil content in certain cases can be
as high as 20%, which can cause rancidity and rejection by the animals. Palm
oil is extracted by expeller or solvent. The former process is rather
inefficient resulting in large quantities of oil residue in the PKC. The
high copper content can cause toxicity in small ruminants, particularly
sheep. To a certain extent, copper toxicity can be alleviated by the
addition of zinc molybdate. The extent of copper toxicity in larger
ruminants is somewhat unclear because feeding PKC over a long period to
either cattle or buffalo has not resulted in retarded growth or mortality.
Furthermore, steers fed high level of PKC were found to have normal
concentrations of rumen metabolites, glucose, urea, alkaline phosphate and
glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase. A more recent study by Hair-Bejo et al.
(1995) showed that buffalo fed 100% PKC had twice as much copper and zinc in
the liver and adrenal cortex compared to buffalo fed a normal diet. However,
high mineral contents in these two organs did not cause any mortality.
Oil Palm Fronds
Oil palm trees require regular pruning to facilitate harvesting of mature
fruit, thus yielding large quantities of fronds (leaves and petioles), which
at present are not utilised for feeding animals. Oil palm fronds (OPF) with
nearly 15% crude protein is a potential ruminant feed (Abu Hassan, 1995).
However, it cannot be economically utilised unless processed into pellet
form. Cattle fed OPF pellets measuring 9 mm in diameter and 3-5 cm in length
with 33.3% total digestible nutrients gained 0.93 kg/day (Asada et al.,
Empty Fruit Bunch
Empty fruit bunch (EFB) can also be processed into ruminant feed as pellets.
Very little work has been done to utilise EFB as ruminant feed but there
should not be serious problems in developing appropriate technology to
improve the feeding qualities of EFB.
Forage Cover Crops
The inter-row spaces found in all oil palm plantations promote the growth of
at least 60 plant species - usually considered as weeds (Chen and Dahlan,
1995). In intensive oil palm plantations, chemicals are used regularly to
control weed growth so that the competition for plant nutrients is minimal.
The cost of weeding is quite substantial and can be easily eliminated if the
forages in the inter-rows are utilised for animal production. In addition,
soil and environmental pollution is minimised. Integrating animals in the
plantation can also reduce fertilizer application since the nutrients
returned to the soil from the animals are quite substantial. Reducing
chemical fertilisers in the long-run will not only reduce production costs
but, more importantly, will minimise further deterioration in soil
fertility. It is a known fact that constant application of chemicals will
alter the ecological profile of the soil. With reduced biodiversity in the
soil, plant growth can be affected.
Cover crops such as Centrosema pubescens, Desmodium audifolium, Pueraria
phaseoloides, Calopogonium caeruleum, etc., found in the inter-rows in most
plantations, are legumes with a high nutrient content. As the palm matures,
the canopy increases and limits light penetration, which in turn will reduce
forage production in the inter-rows. It has been estimated that after the
second year of planting, the light intensity declined by an average of 10 -
15%. Forage DM yield for the five years after planting ranges from 2000-3000
kg/ha to as high as 7000-8000 kg/ha DM depending on the extent of weeding
done (Chen et al., 1991). After five years, DM yields declined to between
500 and 1000 kg/ha.
The stocking density has to be adjusted to correspond with the forage yield.
The carrying capacities and liveweight productions of cattle grazing under
immature oil palm are comparable to those found in ranch operations in
Malaysia, which is about 138-285 kg/ha/year (Chen and Dahlan, 1995). The
carrying capacity under mature oil palm is only 0.3 head/ha which is low.
The carrying capacity can be sustained at a higher level if all the
available biomass (including the by-products) are utilised. However, a
production system which fully integrates livestock utilising forage and
other biomass has not been developed.
Forage production in the inter-rows can be substantially increased even
under mature palms provided the planting density is reduced. Reducing
planting density does not necessarily mean lower fruit bunch production. On
the contrary, production of fruit bunch is maintained because the reduction
in planting density is compensated by increased production from individual
trees. Under reduced planting density there is greater light penetration
resulting in increased forage production.
Chen and Dahlan (1995) suggested that a rotational grazing system at 6-8
weekly intervals is ideal since it allows routine work to be done. They also
recommended that the interval of grazing be adjusted depending upon forage
availability. The stocking rate for cattle varies from 0.3-3.0/ha and in the
case of sheep, from 2.0-14.0/ha. The large variation is due to the
inconsistency in forage availability. Animals should be relocated after 60%
of the forage is grazed when it meets both objectives of weeding and forage
Integrated animal farming can be further intensified if the system
incorporates the utilisation of by-products. The by-products from the oil
palm industry are easily available at competitive costs. There is no reason
why a viable animal production system cannot be developed in conjunction
with the oil palm plantation. In fact, the oil palm industry is the only
basis for animal production in the tropics since conventional grazing alone
The concept of integrating animals with oil palm plantations is a feasible
and practical proposition as demonstrated by many studies conducted in
Malaysia over the past two decades. The only impediment towards implementing
the concept is the attitude of the plantation management which lacks the
expertise in animal husbandry and is unable to see the benefits derived from
such a farming system. Future plantation managers should be competent in
both crop and animal production. At present, plantation management cannot
ignore the need to optimise all available resources for two reasons.
Firstly, with the rapid expansion of oil palm cultivation worldwide,
ensuring profitability solely from extracting oil has become somewhat
uncertain. Secondly, demand for animal products has exceeded supply because
of improved standards of living and affluence. Finally, a paradigm shift is
needed in the way the oil palm sector is managed. This is only possible
through new policy directions and availability of training packages to
advance the concept of animal/crop integrated farming system.
Abu Hassan, O. 1995. Utilisation of oil palm trunks and fronds. In Proc. 1st
Int. Symp on Integration of Livestock to Oil Palm Prod. Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. pp. 129-138.
Asada, T., Konno, T., and Saito, T. 1991. Study on the conversion of oil
palm leaves and petioles into feeds for ruminants. In Proc. 3rd. Int. Symp.
on the Nutrition of Herbivores. Penang, Malaysia. pp. 104.
Chen, C. P. and Dahlan, I. 1995. In Proc. 1st Int. Symp. on Integration of
Livestock to Oil Palm Prod. FAO, Rome. pp. 35-49.
Chen, C. P. H. K. Wong and Dahlan, I. 1991. In Recent Advances on the
Nutrition of Herbivores. Y. W. Ho et. al (Eds.) Malaysian Society and Animal
Production. pp. 233-246.
Hair-Bejo, M., Liang, J. B. and Alimon, A. R. 1995. Copper tolerance in
buffalo: The potential toxic effect of copper in buffalo fed palm kernel
cake. In Proc. 17th Malaysian Society of Animal Production Ann. Conf.
Penang, Malaysia. pp. 246-247.
Hutagalung, R. I. 1985. Nutrient availability and utilisation of
unconventional feedstuffs used in tropical regions. In Proc. Feeding Systems
of Animals in Temperate Areas. Seoul, Korea. pp. 326-337.
Jelan, Z. A., Jalaludin, S., and Vijchulata, P. 1986. In Final RCM on
isotope-aided studies on non-protein nitrogen and agro-industrial
by-products utilisation by ruminants. International Atomic Energy Agency,
Vienna, Austria. pp. 77.
Palmquist, D. L. 1995. By pass energy from palm oil for cattle. ln Proc. 1st
Int. Symp. on Integration of Livestock to Oil Palm Prod. Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. pp. 123-128.
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LIVESTOCK FEED RESOURCES WITHIN INTEGRATED FARMING SYSTEMS
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