Discipline: Natural Sciences
A study was conducted to determine the effects of maceration of leucaena leaves and the length of time these were allowed to stand thereafter on the rate of degradation of its protein content in the rumen of cattle. The four treatments were: I - Control (non-macerated), II - Macerated and left to stand for 60 minutes, III - Macerated and left to stand for 90 minutes and IV - Macerated and left to stand for 120 minutes. Samples from each treatment were incubated from 3 to 48 hrs in the rumen of three fistulated cattle, which serve as replicates. The crude protein degradation values at different times of incubation of the samples were plotted and the rate and extent of rumen digestion were calculated. Results showed that maceration of leucaena leaves and allowing its mass to stand for 60 min had significantly lower degradation values for the water soluble and potentially soluble protein fractions. This indicates that maceration enhanced the formation of tannin-protein complex, an insoluble compound in the rumen, through the destruction of the plant cells of tannin-containing, high protein leucaena. As such, macerated leucaena becomes an excellent source of by-pass protein thus supplying the host animal with proteins in the small intestines for absorption rather than being degraded by the rumen microorganisms into ammonia. It can be concluded that the traditional practice of macerating leucaena leaves by Batangas cattle farmers prior to forced-feeding or "supak" has indeed a scientific basis.