Fenugreek

Fenugreek

Fenugreek has been used as fodder in the Mediterranean Basin since ancient times; its Latin name “foenum-graecum” means Greek hay. Fenugreek seeds yield oil that is used to flavour various food recipes, are used in perfume and cosmetic industries, as well as being used in drug treatments; fenugreek seeds contain diospenin, which synthesises hormones in drug form.

Fenugreek seed husks are a source of protein, mucilage, oiland sapogenin, which protect plants against microbes, fungi and attack from other hostile organisms. Plant residues or whole plants may be used as green manure and fuel. This plant, therefore, has numerous usages and multi-purpose value.

Agricultural Animal Husbandry:

Among other livestock feed products, it offers high-quality forage and compares well with alfalfa in terms of its growth habits. However, fenugreek forage grown in greenhouses, when cut from weeks 15 and 19 reportedly has higher in vitro DM digestibility than alfalfa during the herb’s early stage of blooming.

Protein content tends to be higher in the early stages of growth, around 9 weeks. Volatile fatty acids were similar to alfalfa in the early blooming stage, according to research.

Fenugreek is high-quality forage and a well-adapted to dry land. It has been shown in Canada to help beef cattle farmers to reduce animal feed requirements with its increased feed efficiency. This feed also reduces water consumption during crop production.

Straw:

Fenugreek straw has been compared to ruminant feedstuffs commonly available in an area of South Asian 2015.

Impacts of Fenugreek Seeds on Animals

Buffalo

Feeding MilchMurrah buffalo cows on fenugreek seeds in a mixture with cane sugar and pearl millet following calving is common practice in India between October to March. This animal feedstuff has been scientifically demonstrated to meet the necessary animal protein and energy requirements.

Dairy cows

Fenugreek seeds were included in dairy cattle feeding during 3 weeks at up to 20% of the dry matter (DM). Dairy cows fed on fenugreek seeds did not have significantly lower body weight and there was no effect on milk yield. There is a possibility of slightly increased fat-corrected milk yield, but no impact has been found in tests on milk flavour or taste. In research conducted in 2004, fenugreek seeds tended to reduce animal blood cholesterol by 4% compared to a‘control group’ of animals, not fed on fenugreek seeds. This feeswas also found to result in 15 percent reduced milk cholesterol, which could be said to have health benefits for dairy product consumers, as well as animal health.

Sheep

In research conducted on sheep in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy, Awassi ewes were fed on diets with similar levels of nitrogen and energy producing rations,with either Nigella sativa seeds, or fenugreek seeds, or a mixture of the two feeds.

The ration containing fenugreek seeds or the mixture of fenugreek and nigella seeds resulted in higher milk yield, protein milk yield and increased lambs’ weight. Research scientist Al-Rawi and his team found that there was no detrimental effect on animal health, in research carried out in 2014. Ten years before, the same results had been demonstrated in other research.

Barki ewes in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy and Barki rams were offered a berseem (2 kg per day) and rice straw (0.25 kg per day) based diet, with 0.9 kg concentrate, to which fenugreek seeds were added at two levels: 20 g/d and 40 g/d.

Total dry matter (DM) intake was greater at the lower level of fenugreek seeds, but at the higher level DM intake decreased in comparison to control animals not fed this diet of added fenugreek seeds. However, researchers discovered that even at the higher level, of dietary dosage, fenugreek seeds did improve nutrient digestible elements, i.e. crude protein, organic matter, dry matter, effective energy, nitrogen free extract and crude fibre digestibility in rams.

According to H.M. Saleh’s research in 2004 with ewes, milk yield, fat-corrected milk and feed efficiency were improved by the addition of fenugreek seeds. There were also benefits for weaning weights and average daily weight gain of suckling lambs with the addition of fenugreek seeds to a ewe’s diet too.

Goats

Research has been conducted on Saudi goats in early lactation that were fed 60 grams per day (g/d) of fenugreek seeds for 7 weeks. This showed increased milk yield, pluslevels of growth hormone were also improved; this dietary supplement also significantly reduced glucose and urea levels in plasma. M.A. Alamer’s research team in 2005 concluded that the enhanced milk yield was due to the increase in growth hormone stimulated by this diet.

This research evidence of the positive health related benefits of fenugreek seeds for goats built on previous research, when Baladi goats were fed on berseem clover and concentrates, plus 10 g/d fenugreek seeds. The Baladi goats also produced higher milk yields. The goats’ milk also had higher levels of nitrogen and soluble nitrogen, together with higher salt content, according to Dr.Abd El-Kader Mahmoud Kholif’s research team in 2001.

Further findings included that the goats fed fenugreek showed increased acidity in cheese produced from their milk; also there was higher tyrosine and tryptophan levels; total fat and solids decreased, however. The ratio of fat compared to volume of solids also decreased, as did total soluble nitrogen.

Kholif’s team conducted further research a few years later in 2004 which established that Baladigoats fed on a mixture of seeds, includingfenugreek, black cumin, caraway and garden cress at 8 or 16 g/d also increased milk yield by 14.8 and 17.8% more respectively. Milk fat and protein yields were increased too,with milk composition otherwise unchanged. Animal health was found to be improved too, when analysis of the goats’ blood showed a tendency towards lower cholesterol.