Reply To: Comfrey

  • theholisticgoat

    June 22, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    Comfrey (Symphytum spp.) as a feed supplement in pig nutrition contributes to regional resource cycles


    In smallholder agriculture, the fast-growing and perennial accumulator plant comfrey (Symphytum spp.) was used to supply pigs with protein and minerals. Comfrey leaves show similar values in dry matter as soybean or blue lupine in crude protein content, but much higher levels of calcium and phosphorus. However, in terms of increased efficiency in animal husbandry, comfrey has been displaced by mainly soybean and cereals. Due to its profile of macro- and micronutrients the use of comfrey could have the potential to re-establish local resource cycles and help remediate over-fertilized soils. The aim of the study was to evaluate whether a modern pig breed accepts a continuous feed supplement of dried comfrey leaves. After an initial adaptation period post-weaning, German Landrace piglets were subjected to either a standard control diet or a diet supplemented with 15% dried comfrey leaves for 4 weeks. Body weight was reduced in comfrey-supplemented piglets compared to controls, which might be attributed to reduced palatability in the experimental setting. Nevertheless, comfrey-supplemented piglets exhibited adequate bone mineralization and intestinal integrity. The microbiome profile in feces and digesta revealed higher diversity in comfrey-supplemented piglets compared to controls, with pronounced effects on the abundances of Treponema and Prevotella. This may be due to described bio-positive components of the comfrey plant, as data suggest that the use of comfrey leaves may promote intestinal health. Digestive tract phosphorus levels were reduced in piglets receiving comfrey supplementation, which may ultimately affect phosphorus levels in manure. Results indicate that comfrey leaves could serve as a feed component in integrated agricultural systems to establish regional nutrient cycles. The trial provides a basis for further work on comfrey as a regionally grown protein source and effective replacement for rock mineral supplements.”