Manure Manager

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Sainfoin – ‘healthy hay’ – being examined as a livestock food supplement


March 9, 2008
By Manure Manager

Researchers at Britain’s
University of Reading are investigating how feeding an ancient food to
livestock could become a huge benefit to the environment.

Researchers at Britain’s University of Reading are investigating how feeding an ancient food to livestock could become a huge benefit to the environment.

Sainfoin – derived from the French term ‘sain foin’, which means ‘healthy hay’ – is an almost forgotten traditional fodder legume that used to be widely grown throughout Europe before the use of commercial fertilizers. The feed has a very high voluntary intake by cattle, sheep and horses and is believed to contain unique nutritional properties.

It is thought that the unique nutritional, environmental and veterinary properties of sainfoin are governed by the presence of tannins, which are natural products that occur only in a few fodder legumes. Past research also suggests that the sainfoin tannins achieve good anti-parasitic effects. This could explain why it is such a good fodder for young livestock such as lambs and calves.

Proposed projects include:
• characterizing the different tannins from the sainfoin germplasm,
• understanding how the tannins interact with protein,
• nutritional analysis of the sainfoin germplasm,
• agronomic evaluations of different sainfoin germplasm and
• pre-breeding trials.


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