Thursday, July 18, 2024

Chemistry and Nutritive Values of Some Grasses

Grasses, even when dormant, are fair to good sources of energy for ruminant animals, but other nutrients, especially crude protein and carotene, are likely deficient when plants are dormant. Grasses are plants with jointed stems.

The stems are normally hollow between the joints (node). Leaves are in two rows on the stem. Veins in the leaves are parallel. About 75% of forage consumed in the tropics is grass.

Nutritional Quality of Grass

The performance of livestock grazing grasses is directly related to the quantity and quality offered. There are many factors that influence intake of grass, the most important being digestibility and crude protein.

Digestibility is a measure of the proportion of grass that can be utilized by an animal.

Grasses that are green, leafly and actively growing will have a higher digestibility than those that have dried.

The crude protein of early to late vegetative stage is higher than late flowering stage. Young growing grasses have a crude protein value of 8-16 percent but most matured grasses have 3.5-8 percent.

Most tropical grasses only have energy and crude protein for maintenance only. Thus, growing and lactating animals who require higher levels of protein in their diet must have protein rich supplements included in their diets

The quality problem of tropical grasses;

Do not meet the nutritional requirements of ruminants for maximum production.

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Availability of green feed for at least half of the year in seasonally dry regions, and low nutritive value during most of the season of active growth.

Including presence of material which is unpalatable because of senescence.

Some Important Forage Species


Botanical Name Common Name

Andropogon gayanus (Kunth) Gambia grass Cenchrus biflorus (Roxb) –

Cenchrus Ciliaris (Linn) Buffel grass Pennisetum pedicellatum (Trinn) –

Cymbopogon giganteus –

Digitaria decumbens Pangola grass

Digitaria smutsii wolly finger grass

Hyparrhenia spp. (Nees) Stapf –

Brachiaria brizantha –

Echinocloa colonum (L.) Link. Jungle rice Pennisetum polystachion (Linn.) Schult

Setaria sphacellata Golden blue grass

Andropogonn tectorum Schum. & Thon Giant blue stem Cymbopogon giganteus –

Megastachya mucronate –

Panicum phragmatoides –

Pennisetum purpureum Schumach Elephant grass

Panicum maximum Jacq Guinea grass source

In summary, grasses comprise of 75 % of forages in the tropics but need to be supplemented with protein rich diet for growing and lactating animals.

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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