Bamboo as a Year-Round Forage Source
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2005
Heidi Bissell1, MS; B. Rude2, PhD; J. Sims2, BS; R. Sikes3, PhD; J. Parsons2, MS; A. Kouba1, PhD; J. Ouellette1, MS
1Memphis Zoo, Memphis, TN, USA; 2Department of Animal and Dairy Science, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, USA; 3Department of Biology, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR, USA


Bamboo is a rapidly renewable, nutritionally stable, and in most cases, evergreen forage. Although only rivercane (Arundinaria gigantica) is native to North America, bamboo enthusiasts have imported hundreds of varieties adapted to a wide range of climates and growing zones. We have conducted macronutrient analysis on eleven temperate species collected across all seasons and have analyzed for dry matter, ash, acid-insoluble ash (AIA), crude protein (CP), crude fiber (CF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), lignin, crude lipid (ether extract, EE), and acid detergent fiber crude protein (ADFCP) and gross energy (GE). We have detected no nutritionally significant seasonal changes in nutrient composition.

Bamboo leaves, averaging 14.26±1.75% CP, 10.68±2.36% EE, 71.29±3.08% NDF, 34.21±2.25% ADF, 8.21±3.22% lignin and 10.99±2.03% ash are similar in composition to many grass hays, although there is a greater amount of EE in bamboo leaves than in most grasses. Bamboo culms, at 1.71±1.21% CP, 6.21±1.29% EE, 90.08±2.76% NDF, 62.43±6.45% ADF, 15.75±1.35% lignin, and 1.90±0.63% EE are most similar chemically to the woody “twigs” of many browse species such as grapevines, mulberry and several willow species. Like many other grasses, bamboo contains appreciable quantities of silica and may contain secondary plant compounds of unknown toxicity. However, because of its evergreen nature, bamboo can be used a readily available browse species during winter months when other species are unavailable.


Speaker Information
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Heidii Bissell, MS
Memphis Zoo
Memphis, TN, USA

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