The effect of stage of regrowth on the physical composition and nutritive value of the various vertical strata of kikuyu (Cenchrus clandestinus) pastures

Marcelo A. Benvenutti, Craig Findsen, Jean V. Savian, David G. Mayer, David G. Barber


A plot study was conducted at the Gatton Research Dairy, Queensland, Australia, to quantify the effects of 5 regrowth periods (9, 11, 14, 16 and 18 days) and 4 vertical strata on the composition and nutritive value of kikuyu (Cenchrus clandestinus) pastures using a block factorial design with 4 replicates. Pasture samples were analyzed for crude protein (CP), ethanol-soluble carbohydrates (ESC), acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (aNDFom), in vitro indigestible neutral detergent fibre (iNDF240) and minerals. Metabolizable energy (ME) was then calculated from the concentrations of other nutrients. Regardless of the stage of regrowth, stems were located mainly in the bottom 1 or 2 strata, while leaves were present mainly in the top 2 or 3 strata. CP, ESC and ME declined, but aNDFom, ADF and iNDF240 increased with stage of regrowth and from top to bottom of the swards (P<0.05). While herbage quality variables were affected by both factors, vertical stratum had a much larger impact on quality than stage of regrowth. These results indicate that grazing management of kikuyu pastures should be based not only on stage of regrowth but also on level of defoliation, as both have strong impacts on the nutritive value of the consumed forage.

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