Sudan grass is used as a fodder, grazed or cut for fresh cut-and-carry, or for wilting, ensiling or drying. It is very palatable to cattle, sheep and goats (FAO, 2009). It is easy to dry and it makes good quality hay because of its slender culms.
When compared to other tropical Brazilian hays, Sudan grass hay had the highest crude protein and total digestible nutrients, and met the minimum standard for ruminant nutrition (Aguiar et al., 2006b).
In Japan, Sudan grass hay fed to dairy cattle had more crude protein, total digestible nutrients, starch digestibility and non-fiber carbohydrate digestibility than whole crop rice silage, which resulted in increased yields of fat-corrected milk and not-fat solids (Yamamoto et al., 2005). In Mexico, Sudan grass hay replaced up to 40% of the forage (alfalfa) in steam-flaked maize-based lactation diets without deleterious effect on milk yield and milk quality (Alvarez et al., 2005). In steers fed a steam-flaked maize-based diet, the recommended inclusion rate of Sudan grass hay was 8% (Calderon-Cortes et al., 1996) to 15%, which appeared to be optimal for an acceptable daily gain and dry matter intake (Alvarez et al., 2004).
In Japan, Sudan grass roll-baled silage could be used instead of maize silage at 25% of total dry matter intake in diets for lactating cow diets (Iwama et al., 1999).
In India, calves fed a mixture of 54% Sudan grass green forage and 46% ricebean (Vigna umbellata) had an average daily gain of 456 g/day (Singh et al., 2000).
In sheep, Sudan grass silage had an organic matter digestibility slightly lower than alfalfa hay, but Sudan grass hay had a higher OM digestibility than alfalfa hay (Olteanu et al., 2005). Sudan grass silage had digestibility values comparable to those of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) and teosinte (Zea spp.) (Pinto et al., 1999). In Turkey, it was suggested that Hungarian vetch (Vicia pannonica), added to Sudan grass silage, could enhance dry matter and crude protein degradability (Demirel et al., 2003).
In goats, Sudan grass hay was found to have an overall nutritional quality roughly similar to that of pearl millet, elephant grass and sorghum hays (Aguiar et al., 2006a).