Panicum coloratum is mostly used as grazed pasture but can also be used in cut-and-carry systems and also makes good hay and silage (Quattrocchi, 2006; Cook et al., 2005; Suttie, 2000). It is highly palatable, though intense flowering varieties are less relished by stock and palatability declines with maturity (Cook et al., 2005).
In Australia, between 28 and 91 day regrowth periods, the DM digestibility measured with sheep in summer ranged from 62% down to 49% whilst in autumn the range was from 55% to 49% (Minson, 1971). In Argentina, good Panicum coloratum hay had a DM digestibility of 62% (Petruzzi et al., 2003).
In Australia, cattle preferred Panicum coloratum to Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana), giant star grass (Cynodon plectostachyus), 13 other grasses and legumes including bread grass (Brachiaria brizantha), kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum), buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris), siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum) and perennial soybean (Neonotonia wightii) (Lloyd, 1981). In sheep, the intake of Panicum coloratum was considerably lower than for the Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus) although the digestibility of both was similar (Minson, 1971).
In Argentina, daily gains between 700 and 1000 g/day have been reported with cattle grazing Panicum coloratum (cv. Bambatsi) in the Pampas. Panicum coloratum could support dairy cow requirements without supplementation during winter, as cows grazing it gained 30 g/day during this season while those grazing weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) lost 500 g/day (Petruzzi et al., 2003). In beef cows, coloured Panicum coloratum was the only grass (among Eragrostis curvula, Digitaria eriantha and Sorghum x almum) that maintained enough quality to be used as deferred forage during late fall and early winter (Ruiz et al., 2004).
In lambs, age of regrowth of Panicum coloratum had a negative impact on OM digestibility, OM intake and digestible organic matter intake; all these parameters decrease, from 61.4%, 21.3 g/kg and 13.1 g/kg to 56.9%, 19.2 g/kg and 10.6 g/kg respectively as age of regrowth increased from 6 to 10 weeks. However, the rate of decrease of intake with age of the grass was greater than that of total tract digestibility (Lloyd, 1981; Minson, 1971).