Ensiled sorghum and soybean as ruminant feed in the tropics, with emphasis on Cuba


Correspondence to: V. Fievez, Ghent University, Department of Animal Production, Proefhoevestraat 10, 9090 Melle, Belgium.

E-mail: Veerle.Fievez@UGent.be


The concept is presented of combined cultivation of legumes and sorghum–maize and their use as conserved ruminant feed in tropical regions, with special reference to Cuba. Good yields are obtained during the rainy season through intercropping (alternate rows of either sorghum or maize and soybean). When followed by ensiling, this provides high-quality ruminant feed for the tropical dry season. Soybean compensates for the low crude protein content of sorghum, whereas sorghum allows good silage quality in combination with legumes. The paper reviews and updates recent studies assessing combined sorghum–soybean cultivation and ensiling as well as determination of their feed value. The high nutritive quality and forage potential when these crops are intercropped demonstrate that silage from these plants can be used successfully in ruminant diets in Cuba and other tropical areas. Perspectives for new studies in this field are suggested, particularly with legume species that are more adapted to specific tropical regions and/or with higher forage yield. In addition, it is suggested that there is a need to assess the supplementation impact on meat and milk production at the farm level, as well as its environmental impact, when ruminants are fed combined silages from whole plants of sorghum–legumes.