The nutritive value of Columbus grass is dependent on the age of regrowth and it provides good feed only on soils which are at least moderately fertile (Hacker, 1992; Cook et al., 2005). Between 6 and 14 weeks, crude protein decreased from 15.6 to 5.2% DM, NDF increased from 52 to 69% DM. Dry matter and nitrogen degradability decreased from 41 to 32% and 48 to 33% respectively (Lanyasunya et al., 2007b). The application of fertilizer improved the in vitro gas production, suggesting enhanced fermentation (Lanyasunya et al., 2007a).
It has moderate to high palatability but is not as readily eaten as annual sorghums (Pritchard, 1964 cited by FAO, 2010),
It stands heavy stocking and will give several grazings in a season (up to 2-3 grazings per season for a rain-fed crop), but it does not stand heavy trampling and is therefore more suitable for rotational grazing. It should be grazed heavily once the crop is 50 cm high to prevent it from growing too coarse. For maximum regrowth, stubble is left at 15 cm (FAO, 2010).
Silages harvested between 7 and 13 weeks post-planting compacted well and the fermentation was complete at 21 days. Soft dough stage (80 days post-planting) was found to be the optimal stage for ensiling, being a good compromise between yield and quality. However, it did not meet ruminant requirements for protein (14.7 to 6.4% DM) and P (0.21-0.12% DM), though other minerals were sufficient (Kallah et al., 1997).
The following table summarizes research findings of grazing Columbus grass on performances in cattle.
||DMI and weight gain
||77 or 84 days of regrowth
||DMI 1.67% BW
||French et al., 1988
|Brigalow environment, Queensland, Australia
||Up to 0.83 kg/head/day over 112-day; 340 kg/ha in 336 days. Increased stocking rates increased LW gain in the cooler months and decreased it during summer.
||Silvey et al., 1988
||Criollo x Zebu
||400 kg LW in 2.5 years
||Grazed November to April; 2.5 head/ha
||Criollo x Zebu
||717 kg/ha in 23 months
For regrowth of 56, 70 and 84 days Columbus grass intake did not exceed 1% of the total body weight in goats. Due to the low dry matter intake, crude protein intake was also low and goats did not meet their maintenance requirements (Elizondo, 2004). Goats fed Columbus grass produced 0.73 kg of milk per day (Herrera et al., 2009).