Panicum antidotale provides a palatable pasture and is valuable as a fodder crop for light sandy soils in dry areas (Sarwar et al., 2006). It is readily grazed by livestock before flowering. At flowering, the spikes have hard and woody stalks that decrease palatability rapidly (FAO, 2011; Quattrocchi, 2006). If livestock do not graze the whole stand, the residue should be made into hay to let the regrowth provide new green material. Panicum antidotale can also be used to make silage (FAO, 2011).
In a comparison of forages in Saudi Arabia, Panicum antidotale was found to have the lowest protein content. Its energy content (estimated in vitro) was higher than that of canary grass (Phalaris spp.) but lower than moringa (Moringa oleifera), jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) and finger millet (Eleusine coracana) (Bakhashwain et al., 2010).
The nutritive value of Panicum antidotale declines markedly as it matures but more research is needed to establish predictive equations of its nutritive value based on the stage of maturity. It can be assumed that, approximatively, the crude protein content decreases by 0.6 ± 0.03% per day and that the NDF content increases by 0.9 ± 0.1% per 10 day. The OMD decreases by almost 1.9 ± 0.6% per 10 days (Malik et al., 1967). The OM digestibility of Panicum species was 57.4 ± 5.1 (n=66; Feedbase, 2011), which corresponds to a ME content of 8.03 ± 0.93 MJ/kg DM. There is a negative relationship between OM digestibility and NDF expressed as:
OMD % = 98.3 – 0.54 NDF (R=-0.26, RSD=4.4%, n=48)
Predictions with NIRS of in vitro digestibility and crude protein of samples of Panicum antidotale were accurate and the estimation of lignin content was adequate. However, prediction of NDF was rather poor (Rabotnikof et al., 1995).
In Saudi Arabia, blue panic has been used in lactating dairy cow diets, in order to replace alfalfa. In vitro CH4 emissions were lower with blue panic than with alfalfa (7.5 vs. 10.3 ml/g DM). However, cows fed on blue panic yielded less milk (5.44 vs. 6.74 kg/d), and had lower fat corrected milk (4.62 vs. 5.58kg/d). It was thus concluded that blue panic could not completely replace alfalfa in dairy cow diets (Allam et al., 2013).