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Mission grass (Pennisetum polystachion)

Datasheet

Description
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Common names 

Mission grass, feather pennisetum, thin napier grass [English]; capim avião, capim custódio [Portuguese]; rumput ekor kucing [Indonesian]

Synonyms 

Panicum polystachion L., Pennisetum atrichum Stapf & C. E. Hubb.

Related feed(s) 
Description 

Mission grass (Pennisetum polystachion) is an annual or perennial grass, with culms up to 2 m high. Panicles are 10-25 cm long and 1.5-3 cm in diameter. Caryopses are 1.7-2 mm long (FAO, 2009).

Distribution 

Pennisetum polystachion is native to India and tropical Africa and naturalized in tropical Asia, Southern USA, Australia, Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia and Hawaii. It is widespread between 23°N and 23°S.

Pennisetum polystachion thrives in difficult conditions and is adaptable. It prefers high rainfall but tolerates short drought periods. It is adapted to a wide range of soils from light sandy to waterlogged clay soil. Mission grass can grow under 80% shade and on poor fertility soils.

Forage management 

In India, total annual yield was around 3.4 t green fodder/ha/year (Narayanan et al., 1972 cited by FAO, 2009), and in Fiji, 7.3 to 13.8 t green fodder/ha/year (Partridge, 1979).

Environmental impact 

Pennisetum polystachion is resistant to fires. It is useful for controlling erosion on hillsides. It does not require fertilizers.

Where it was introduced it tended to develop rapidly and can be now considered a noxious weed. This is the case in the USA (USDA, 2009), in Australia, Fiji and Thailand (Parsons et al., 2001). Overgrazing can be a way to control its development (Ellison et al., 1973 cited by FAO, 2009).

Nutritional aspects
Potential constraints 

Pennisetum polystachion is free of HCN (Mishra et al., 1996).

Ruminants 

Mission grass is a valuable fodder, either grazed or cut to be used as hay by cattle. Its nutritive value and palatability is high before seedling and drops dramatically after it; it is thus recommended to prevent flowering by 6-week cutting intervals.

It cannot stand heavy grazing, which results in pastures being invaded by other species. In Benin, pastures containing Pennisetum polystachion and Andropogon gayanus had a carrying capacity of 0.16 tropical livestock units/ha (Agonyissa et al., 1998). In the Fiji Islands, mission grass oversown with Macroptilium atropurpureum and Stylosanthes guianensis induced an average annual live-weight gain/head of 94 kg in steers if unfertilized, but after a heavy application of fertilizer this increased to an average live-weight gain of 143 kg/head. Marginal live-weight gain at the highest level of fertilizer is interesting only if the stocking rate is over 2 steers/ha (Partridge, 1986).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 19.7 4.4 13.7 30.0 17
Crude protein % DM 8.6 1.8 6.5 12.3 19
Crude fibre % DM 37.7 3.8 27.1 41.0 18
NDF % DM 72.7 1.6 72.7 78.8 3 *
ADF % DM 43.8 9.2 30.2 50.1 4 *
Lignin % DM 6.2 4.1 2.2 11.2 4 *
Ether extract % DM 1.5 0.2 1.1 2.0 18
Ash % DM 11.8 2.2 8.6 15.9 19
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.6 *
 
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 2.8 0.4 2.0 3.7 18
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.3 0.5 1.6 3.5 18
Potassium g/kg DM 28.0 9.7 15.3 38.8 4
Sodium g/kg DM 0.0 1
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.7 2.5 2.8 2
Manganese mg/kg DM 152 1
Zinc mg/kg DM 33 1
Copper mg/kg DM 9 1
 
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 59.5 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 56.9 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.0 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.0 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

CIRAD, 1991; Dougall et al., 1965; Sen, 1938; Senanayake, 1995

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:11

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 67.0 1
Crude protein % DM 6.4 1
Crude fibre % DM 46.8 1
NDF % DM 81.2 *
ADF % DM 53.8 *
Lignin % DM 8.4 *
Ether extract % DM 1.2 1
Ash % DM 8.2 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.5 *
 
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 1.2 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.2 1
 
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 50.5 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 48.2 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.9 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.1 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

CIRAD, 1991

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:11

References
References 
Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., 2015. Mission grass (Pennisetum polystachion). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/400 Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:30

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)