Stockpiling of Three Tropical Forage Grass Species1
- C.P.E. Omaliko2
During the annual dry season (October to March) in much of the tropics, supply of herbage for the livestock is limited. Hay and silage making are usual methods of conserving herbage but these methods are capital intensive and easily out of reach of the tropical pastoralist. Therefore, other methods of conserving herbage have to be evolved. In this study, stockpiling was used to conserve herbage. The main. objective of the experiment was to study the effects of four stockpiling periods on dry matter yields. Also, residual effects of management on the sward's productivity were assessed. Three forage species that are extensively used in grassland agriculture in southern Nigeria were stockpiled in 1977 and 1978 to provide dry-season feed. The species were stargrass (Cynodon nlemfuënsis Vanderyst), elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.) and guineagrass (Panicum maximum Jacq). The four stockpiling periods were from either June, July, August, or September to November of each of the 2 years. Yield and quality of herbage from the poststockpiling cuts were estimated in December 1977, February and December 1978, and February 1979. On 15 May 1978 and 1979 residual effects of both the stockpiling and the subsequent post-stockpiling dry season cuts on the swards performance were assessed. For the 2 year period, dry matter yields averaged over all three species were highest (7,330 kg/ha) and lowest (2,100 kg/ha) from the July and September stockpilings, respectively. The species varied in dry matter yields, and in the stockpiling period that gave the highest yields. Stargrass attained its highest yield from June stockpiling while the other two species were highest from July stockpiling. Elephant grass had a significantly higher dry matter yield (5,500 kg/ha) than either stargrass (4,370 kg/ha) or guineagrass (4,360 kg/ha). Yields from post-stockpiling herbage cuts in December and February were low (390 to 1,800 kg/ha). However, the quality was relatively high for a herbage at this season—percentage crude protein (CP%) = 4.3 to 10.8; acid detergent fiber (ADF%) = 39.8 to 43.8; and total ash percentage = 4.7 to 12.4. There were no significant residual effects of stockpiling periods on the dry matter yields of herbage harvested early in the following season. These results suggest that stockpiling is an attainable method of providing good quality herbage during the dry season in the tropics. However, more studies involving different aspects of its management will still be required.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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