Macro and trace elements of 26 browse species growing in semi-arid grazing lands of Eastern Cape, South Africa
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Leaves and twigs from woody plants provide essential nutrients to range animals. We examined variation in the mineral status of 26 woody species, and the influence of harvesting height as well as the interactions of the main effects on minerals levels. Leaves were harvested from five individual plants per species at two height levels: low (<1 m) and upper (>1.5 m). For trees, all mineral levels showed variation (p < 0.05) between species. For shrubs and intermediate growth forms (between shrubs and trees), mineral levels except potassium (K) and zinc (Zn) were influenced (p < 0.05) by height × species interactions. Most browse species had calcium (Ca) contents (8.5–50 g kg-1) above the required levels, with the majority of the species having Ca beyond the maximum tolerable limit. Most browse plants had sufficient K, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and Zn concentrations to meet the requirements for ruminants. Copper was deficient in many browse leaves, thus supplementation should be considered in winter. We conclude that such knowledge is essential for sustainable use of browses as mineral supplements, especially during critical periods when climatic conditions limit the feed value of grasses.