Nigeria grass is a low quality forage. Nutritive value, crude protein content (9.6% DM at early stage and 1.6% at straw stage), digestibility and voluntary intake decrease with maturity (Kaboré-Zoungrana et al., 2008; Bougouma-Yaméogo, 1995). Because of this fast decrease in quality, Nigeria grass should be fed when young. Mature Nigeria grass must be well supplemented in order to sustain growth and/or milk production. Urea treatment may be a valuable option to improve its nutritive value (nitrogen content and digestibility to some extent), and adequate supplementation must be provided to reach production goals.
Nigeria grass fodder results in lower DM intake than sorghum fodder when offered to heifers (Kishore et al., 2000).
The nutritive value of late stage Nigeria grass hay is low and cannot support the maintenance requirements of adult rams of 17-25 kg (Nianogo et al., 1997), but supplementation with nitrogen and energy improves performance (Zoundi et al., 2002).
Reported DMI and digestibility values are shown in the table below:
|Forage type and maturity stage
|Fresh, pre-flowering stage
||43 g DM/kg W0.75
||Banerjee et al., 1974
|Fresh, 65-70 days after sowing
||35 g DM/kg W0.75
||45% DMD, 48% OMD
||Jakhmola et al., 1983
|Fresh, 120-125 days after sowing (50% flowering)
||40 g DM/kg W0.75
||56% DMD, 49% OMD
||Jakhmola et al., 1983
|Hay, boot stage
||69 g DM/kg W0.75
||Kabre, 1988 cited by Achard, 1991
|Hay, tiller stage
||74 g DM/kg W0.75
|Hay, mature stage
||42 g DM/kg W0.75
Treating Nigeria grass hay with urea may enhance nitrogen content, DM intake, degradability and digestibility in sheep but to a lesser extent than supplementation (Nianogo et al., 1997; Bougouma-Yaméogo, 1995).
Effects of supplementation and/or treatments on Nigeria grass hays on animal performance are shown in the table below:
||Effect on nutritive value
||Effect on animal performance
||Cottonseed cake (60g) or cotton seed cake + cotton seeds
||Hay intake increased, OMD unchanged
||No significant effect on daily weight gain
|18 month rams
||25% or 52% concentrate
||Increased daily weight gains: 57 and 71 g/d respectively
||20% concentrate + urea
||Increased daily milk and protein yields
||Increased rumen degradability
||Zoundi et al., 2002
Nigeria grass pasture was found to be palatable to goats, though less so than Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) (Singh et al., 2000).