Water Lettuce as Animal Feed

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DailyLunatic

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Surin, Thailand
My Wife's friend has heard of my desire for floating water plants to keep my pond clear, and to be used as animal feed. She has several ponds and raises fish and frogs for sale. Her ponds are covered with a water plant that here in Thailand is referred to as 'Bee Flower' or 'Dok Jok'. I call it Water Lettuce and it looks like some variety of 'Pistia'.

She has been growing in full sun so I should have:
1] limited issues with sun damage as they are already acclimated, so no need for the shade cloth.
2] limited issue with fish predation as the plant is larger than either the Duckweed or Azolla I had tried previously, so, no need for the rafts.

However, other than keeping a clear pond, I was intending to use the plants to augment my animal feed as well. (goat and chicken)

I am finding conflicting information on the use of Water Lettuce as animal feed. Some say 8% crude proteins, others 20%. Some that the plant is toxic and contain Calcium Oxalate crystals in the leaves which will cause mouth sores and kidney damage. Others say that is commonly used in feed in many countries around the world. Culturally, it is commonly used here in Thailand.

Long story short (too late), both statements are true. It seems to depend on the animal you intend to feed the plant, and how often.
Chickens and pigs appear to be unaffected by the Calcium Oxalate
Goats on the other hand, are affected. They will willingly take it, just that it causes them issues. One article suggested keeping augmentation to less than 30%. Which was my intent. I don't think my small pond could produce more than an armload once a week or so.

So, has anyone here used Water Lettuce as feed? If so, what animal were you feeding, how often, and did you see issues?

-sterling
 

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One note:
Water Lettuce is prohibited, regulated or illegal in many US states:
Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) - AL, CA, FL, LA, MS, SC, TX, WI​
Water Lettuce Rosette (Pistia Rosette) - AL, CA, FL, LA, MS, SC, TX, WI​
Water Lettuce Curly Leaf Rosette (Pistia Rosette) - AL, CA, FL, LA, MS, SC, TX, WI​

Additionally, Water lettuce can form thick floating mats that can cover the entire surface of a pond. This can lead to oxygen depletion and fish kills.

Please understand any limitations for use in your area.

-sterling
 
I have never used it but did see a documentary about freshwater manatees from the Amazon that had been rescued and were in rehab. They were being fed water lettuce.
 
I have never used it but did see a documentary about freshwater manatees from the Amazon that had been rescued and were in rehab. They were being fed water lettuce.
As I understand, it depends on the animal to which it is fed. Chickens and pigs are apparently fine, Goats and cattle not so much.

-sterling
 
Last edited:
It's really interesting.
We have access to the same plants, but the context is so different depending on where we live. Pistia can be hard to grow indoors, and here, outdoors freezes for half the year. One person's pig feed is another's greenhouse plant...

It's why it's so valuable for people to at least say what country they're in. Advice to a Canadian about this plant will be a different story, and since I can only imagine Thailand, never having been there.
 
It's really interesting.
We have access to the same plants, but the context is so different depending on where we live. Pistia can be hard to grow indoors, and here, outdoors freezes for half the year. One person's pig feed is another's greenhouse plant...

It's why it's so valuable for people to at least say what country they're in. Advice to a Canadian about this plant will be a different story, and since I can only imagine Thailand, never having been there.

I posted a vid I took on my visit to a river recently to YouTube. It's of Water Hyacinth, not Pistia, but like you mention, shows exactly how differently a plant can grow depending on the environment.

It's of one single massive floating mat of Hyacinth. When they (the locals) do anything at all, they generally just dredge it up for landfill. Such waste if it could be used as silage.

-sterling
 

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