Edible Bamboo Leaves for Cattle
I have been visiting bamboo fields in China and India and happened to learn during my trip that only some (maybe only one) species of bamboo have edible leaves for cattle. Usually only the bacteria in Panda's tomach are strong enough to process bamboo leaves and moreover the bamboo leave fibers can hurt cattle stomachs. Seeing many time on websites that bamboo can be a perennial grass field for cattle grazing I think it would be very usefull to determine which bamboo species have edible leaves (without prior processing like cooking).
Stephane from Guadua Bamboo replied:
I think it is rather the contrary (although this is not my field of expertise). Maybe some bamboo species pose a digestive problem to particular animals, but here in Colombia cows and buffaloes love to eat the leaves of Guadua angustifolia (as you can see in the picture below). As a matter of fact, we need to fence of all our bamboo plantations as cattle could cause severe damage to young bamboo plants.
Finally, the USDA has published a study about the nutritive quality of bamboo browse for livestock. Here they list several temperate bamboo species that are available in the USA.
Thank you Stephane for you responsiveness and useful links. Considering that pastures are a really poor agricultural model in the tropics, bamboos could be a very interesting way to fuel increasing demands on dairy in South-America.
Guy Solomon replied:
I felled a clump of Bambusa balcooa and then milled the leaves for cattle. It smelled like good fresh hay and the cattle loved the chop. I am going to use cattle to clean my Dendrocalamus asper plot too. It will be interesting to see if they eat the leaf fall. I like the photo of you with the cattle and the background. Is that how you dry the bamboo poles?