EVERGLADES EXPERIMENT STATION
Belle Glade, Florida
Mimeographed Report No. 10
OF RAMEE LEAF MEALS IN
BY R. W. Kidder
THE USE OF RAMIE LEAF TEALS IN STEER FATTENING RATIONS
August 1947 to January 1948
R. W. Kidder-
Ramie is an important fiber crop for southern Florida. With this interest, in-
vestment and enthusiasm in and for ramie, a study of the feeding value of the dehy-
drated tops p'-iled highly desirable. Some use of this material in poultry rations
to reple';: part of the alfalfa has been found to be both practical and economical.
Other trials, especially with cattle, were not so immediately promising.
The usual procedure in harvesting ramie is to cut the plants with a modified
hemp binder and tie in bundles to facilitate handling. When the ramie arrives at '
the decorticator, the top is cut off prior to decortication, put through a chopper,
dehydrated and ground for feed.
The dehydrated ramie tops have a protein content of 22 to 24 percent and only
18 to 19 percent fiber which indicates that they are a good, high protein, roughage
feed similar in composition to alfalfa leaf meal. Some of the ramie feed that has
been prepared has included not only the tops but also the strippings from the
decorticating machine. This material has a protein analysis of around 17 percent ard
a fiber content of 37 to 38 percent or more. Much of this feed is pithy, woody
material which is much less desirable for feed than the tops.
The vitamin A content of dehydrated ramie tops is around 200,000 international
units per pound. The American Chlorophyll Company has found this material to be
an excellent source for chlorophyll, xanthophyll and carotene or Vitamin A. After
these materials have been extracted, the feeding constituents of the ramie residue,
as shovm by chemical tests, are approximately the same as the original ramie tops.
Since part of the study included the blending of ramie tops with other feed
materials, it was considered important to have the rations for each lot mixed
separately in a commercial mixing plant. Therefore, the feeds were mixed at the
Broward Grain Company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Some difficulty was experienced
in mixing due to the fluffy fibrous character of the ramie feed. This has been
corrected to a large extent by improved grinding methods,
The same carbohydrate content was arranged for each ration with the protein
mostly being supplied by the ramie feeds or alfalfa,
At first it was planned to use only corn and molasses with these feeds, but
experimental feeding in the preliminary period definitely indicated that other com-
ponents should be included to make a palatable ration. After trying several com-
binations, the addition of dehydrated citrus pulp was found to produce a balanced
ration and to make all three mixtures considerably more palatable to the cattle.
There was very little trouble getting the steers to consume the mixture with ramie
tops but those on the alfalfa and extracted rations required 24 percent dehydrated
citrus with 36 percent alf1fa a7d 20 percent each of corn and blackstrap molasses.
The most of the feeding trial used feeds in this proportion.
* Associate Animal Husbandman, Everglades Experiment Station, Belle Glade, Florida.
Calculations made by Dr. Walter H. Eddy of the American Chlorophyll Company
showed that this combination made a feed which was approximately 11 percent crude
protein, 11 percent fiber, 4 percent fat, 54 percent nitrogen-free extract and 8
percent ash, with a nutritive ratio of 1 to from 6.5 to 7.3 in the three rations
which is within Morrison's recommendations of 6.6 to 7.1.
Twenty-four steers were obtained for this test. Six were Herefords from J-bar
Ranch at Loxahatchee. Six were Brahmans from Tledgworth Farm, Belle Glade. Six were
Holsteins from Graham's Dairy, Pensuco; and six were Jerseys which the Florida
Commission Company of Canal Point had obtained in Alabama. These animals were di-
vided into three balanced lots of eight head containing two steers of each breed per
Lot Number I was fed the ration containing 36 percent dehydrated ramie tops,
24 percent dried citrus pulp, 20 percent corn meal and 20 percent blackstrap molass-
es. Lot II received 36 percent alfalfa leaf meal (17% protein) with the same amount
of citrus pulp, corn and molasses as Lot I. Lot III had the ration containing the
extracted ramie instead of the alfalfa of Lot II or the ramie tops of Lot I. Each
lot of 8 steers was fed twice a day as much of their feed mixture as they would clear
up. The steers in Lot II on the alfalfa mixture did not consume as much feed at any
time as those in Lots I and III on the ramie mixtures.
A mineral mixture was before the steers at all times and record kept of con-
sumption. The proportions of ingredients in this mixture was 48 pounds common fine
salt, 481- pounds steamed bone meal, 3 pounds snowform copper sulfate and 1 ounce of
cobalt carbonate. At one time during the hurricane period the steers in Lot III
cleaned up all of their minerals and several of them developed a diarrhea which dis-
appeared as soon as their mineral box was refilled.
The steers were fed in lots 30 by 30 feet with a concrete floor and about 1/3
of the lot including the feed troughs under shelter. The pens were cleaned once a
week during the trial but no bedding was used because nothing was available for
bedding except hay which would be consumed by the cattle in unknown quantities.
Under these conditions the steers could not keep as clean as might be desirable.
Results of Feeding Trial
The accompanying table 1 shows the comparison of the three feeds. Steers in
Lot III consumed the most feed, though they did not gain as well as those in Lot I.
Lot II steers on the alfalfa feed made more efficient use of their feed by gaining
100 pounds on 402.7 pounds of alfalfa while the extracted ration required 503.0
pounds to produce 100 pounds gain, with the Lot I steers on ramie tops about half
way between at 441.7 pounds. This difference was also shown in the other feed
materials of Lot II as can be seen by the records in Table 1.
During the feeding trial the steers were weighed individually every 14 days.
Steers in Lot I gained more consistently than the other two through the first 84
days but slowed up enough during the last month to make the gain rates much more
nearly equal. At the end of 84 days the record showed Lot I with an average daily
gain of 1.98 pounds while Lot II had made 1.71 pounds and Lot III 1.65 pounds.
At the end of 125 days the steers were delivered for slaughter to Kingan and
Company of Bartow. These records have been summarized by lots in Table 2 and show
that there was no practical difference in the carcasses produced by the three ra'io's,
in Table 3 these same data have been summarized according to the 4 breeds represented.
Some breed differences are shown by this record such as the yield of 60.67 percent
for Brahmans compared to 58,83 percent for Herefords and less for the dairy breeds.
There is nothing in this analysis which would indicate any difference between breeds
in efficiency of utilization of these ramie feed mixtures, hence, ramie meal can be
recommended as a component in dairy feeds.
The 24 steers were sold on the basis of carcass grade as established by a
Federal meat grader. Fourteen steers graded "Good", 9 graded "Commercial" and 1
"Utility". They sold at an average price of 22.84 per hundred live weight. Six of
these steers received injuries on their way to market. Most of this was undoubtedly
cue to being hooked by other steers. These injuries caused a gross loss in selling
price of $38.11, an average of 39 cents per 100 pounds or a little more than $1.50
No analysis of costs were made because there was no established market value on
the ramie feeds. The study was not planned from a cost of production standpoint
although the steers brought a good price when sold. Dairy type steers should be
omitted from a dry lot feeding program if the cattle are expected to make good returns
for investment in feeds.
Samples for detailed studies were obtained from one steer of each breed in each
lot. These samples included bone, liver, hide, fat, lean meat and spinal chord.
In trying out a new feed of this kind it was considered important to be sure
that no objectionable flavors were imparted to the meat by any of the feeds used.
For this reason rib roasts were cut from six steers for cooking trials. One Hereford
-and one Brahman steer, each grading "Good", was selected from each lot for these
tests. The meat was kept in a refrigerator at about 35 degrees F. for 10 days and
then the six cuts were roasted at the same temperature for the same length of time.
A meeting of the Palm Beach County Cattlemen's Association was called to coincide
with the cooking trial. Each person present was given an opportunity to examine and
taste samples from each of these six roasts. The roasts were numbered but those
filling out judging cards had no knowledge of which roasts came from Hereford or
Brahman steers, nor which ration was represented by a particular meat sample. The
judging cards used provided opportunity to rate the roasts in the basis of aroma,
flavor of lean, flavor of fat, tenderness of lean. Not all cards were completely
filled in, however, it was evident that no one could find any objectionable flavor
due to any one of the three rations used. It was also evident that the Hereford
roasts could not be distinguished from the Brahman roasts from grade "A" or "Good"
The type of card used in checking these roasts is shown in Figure 1. An analysis
of this checking shows that one Brahman roast was inferior in aroma and flavor to thl
other five. This flavor may have been due to the 10-day ripening indicating that,
this roast did not keep equally well compared to the others. It so happened that
this steer was on the alfalfa ration and caused this ration to receive fewer excel-
lent grades than either of the ramie rations. It also caused the Hereford roasts
to receive a higher score than the Brahman. Some individuals rated this particular
Brahman roast first or second which shows that it was "Good" grade, and only slightly
inferior to the others.
Twenty-four steers were fattened in the dry lot, in three lots of 8 steers each,
including 2 each of 4 breeds. The rations used were mixtures containing 36 percent
ramie tops, alfalfa leaf meal or extracted ramie tops with 24 percent citrus pulp,
20 percent corn meal and 20 percent molasses.
The feeding trial extended for 125 days and produced gains averaging about li
pounds per head daily in all three lots.
No differences were encountered between breeds in the utilization of these
ramie feeds indicating that ramie tops are satisfactory as an ingredient for both
beef and dairy cattle.
Beef carcass grades produced by this trial included lU "Good", 9 "Commercial"
and 1 "Utility". This indicates that the ramie and alfalfa were satisfactory sources
of protein for steer fattening rations.
No differences in flavor of meat from Hereford and Brahman steers of "Good"
grade could be found due to breeding or to rations.
The assistance of Dr. R. V. Allison and Mr. T. C. Erwin of the Station staff in
conducting this trial is greatly appreciated. Mr, J. M, Dempsey and Mr. Rex Roden
of Newport Industries contributed materially in making this study, as also did Mr.
H. S. Van Sant and Dr. Walter H. Eddy of the American Chlorophyll, Inc.
MEAT GRADING CHART
SSprple Flavor Flavor Tenderness Rma
No Aroma of lean of fat of lean
i----- .- i ii ii i i i --- -- -- -! ,- --- -- -- -- ---- ],] z... ---- --- --- -l.
4 _. ....._____________
Rating: E = Excellent, V.G. = Very Good, G = Good, F Fair, P = Poor.
TABLE 1.-FATTENING STEERS ON RANIE, ALFALFA AND EXTRACTED RAIIE, EVERGLADES
EXPERIMENT STATION, Belle Glade, Florida, September 2, 1947 to
January 5, 1948
Feeds Tested Made 36% of Ration
Feeding Period 12 Das Lot I Lot II Lot III
Feeding Period 12 Days Ramie Alfalfa Extracted
Number of Steers per lot
Average Initial wt. per steer
Average Final wt. per steer
Average Total Gain per steer
Average Daily Gain per steer
Amount of Feed Consu
ned per Steer:
Average Daily Ration per Steer:
Feed Reqired per 100 lbs. Gaint
TABLE 2.--SLAUGHTER RECORDS ON STEERS IN RAMIE FEEDING TRIAL.
Lot I Lot II Lot III
Av. shipping wt. Ibs. 750.6 727.5 729.4
Av. slaughter wt. lbs. 722.5 702.5 708.8
Av. shrinkage in transit Ibs. 28.1 25.0 20.6
Loss in weight, percent 3.74 3.44 2.82
Av. warm carcass wt. lbs. 424.1 409.9 41i*3
Av. cool carcass wt. i" 419.9 406.1 409o9
Av. shrinkage in chilling Ibs, 6425 3.75 4,37
Loss in chilling percent 100O 0.91 lo00
*Yield (dressing percent) 58370 58.35 584% 5
* Calculated on slaughter and warm carcass weights.
TABLE 3.--SLAUGHTER RECORDS ON STEERS IN RAMIE FEEDING TRIAL ON BASIS OF
Breed Hereford Bra'man HolsteJa Jersey
Av. shipping wt. lbs. 713*3 703 3 748,3 778,3
Av. killing wt. 684.2 678.3 725.0 757.5
Av. shrinkage in transit 29.1 25.0 23.3 20.8
Loss in weight, percent 4.25 3,69 3.21 2.75
Av. warm carcass weight 02.5 411.5 413.2 437.2
Av. cool 398.2 407.7 h4085 433.5
Av. shrinkage in chilling 4.3 3.8 4.7 3.7
Loss in chilling, percent 1.07 0.92 1.14 0.85
*Yield (dressing percent) 58.83 60.67 56499 57.72
* Calculated on warm carcass and killing weights.