Wood ash in livestock nutrition: 2. Different uses of wood ash in animal nutrition

Author: J.B.J. van Ryssen
Year: 2018
Issue: 1
Volume: 11
Page: 62 - 67

Wood ash is a mineral source that is readily available in most subsistence farming communities. The potential use of wood ash as a mineral source in animal nutrition is evaluated and reviewed. The predominant mineral in wood ash is calcium (Ca), and thus a potential Ca source in animal diets. However, the wide, source-dependent variations of Ca and other minerals in wood ash are limiting factors in the extensive use of ash in livestock diets. Ca sources with a less variable mineral composition such as feed lime (CaCO3) and limestone are therefore preferable. This restricts the inclusion of wood ash in diets except where a good estimate of its Ca content is available. Specific situations exist under subsistence farming conditions in which wood ash could be used as a Ca supplement, for example when kitchen waste high in cereal products or cassava tuber meal that is low in Ca is fed to livestock. Variation in the concentrations of most trace elements in wood ash is even wider than that of Ca. However, it is suggested that trace elements in wood ash formed when combustion is at temperatures below 500 ºC have a relatively high bioavailability. Therefore, wood ash could be a valuable source of trace elements under subsistence farming conditions. Wood ash is an alkaline product which has been utilized in the alkaline treatment of roughages to improve digestibility and also to reduce the tannin content of feedstuffs. Contrary to other hazardous alkali such as NaOH used in the treatment of feedstuffs, wood ash is a non-corrosive alkali. It is suggested that these treatments would be feasible under resource-limited farming conditions. However, attention will have to be given to the problem that products containing ash would have a high Ca to P ratio which could result in a phosphorus deficiency in livestock. VanRyssen_vol 11_Issue_1_Wood ash in livestock nutrition 2 Different uses of wood ash in animal nutrition

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