Guinea grass is a valuable fodder for pasture, hay and silage. However, it is generally preferable to supplement it with sources of protein to improve animal performance.
Guinea grass is well eaten by all classes of grazing livestock, with particularly high intakes of young leafy plants (Cook et al., 2005).
Reported OM digestibility values range from 53 to 79%. The best OM and DM digestibilities are obtained with young regrowth (Peiris et al., 1995).
In South America, cows grazing Guinea grass yielded 10 to 12 kg milk/day at 2.5 head/ha with good sward persistence and high forage quality (Lima et al., 2006; Lamela et al., 1995). Dairy heifers stocked at 2.3 head/ha on Guinea grass pasture gained 1 kg/ha/d (Costa et al., 2001). Several experiments have shown that supplementing cows or dairy heifers fed on Guinea grass improves animal performance. Supplementation with a concentrate or a concentrate and a legume gave greater milk yields in cows (Goncalves et al., 2005; Razz et al., 2007; Goncalves et al., 2003) and higher weight gains (+35%) in heifers (Rodrigues Filho et al., 2004).
Steers can graze Guinea grass (Difante et al., 2009). Intercropping or supplementing Guinea grass with legumes increased Ca, P, Na and Fe solubility (Ajayi et al., 2009), DM intake (Akinlade et al., 2005) and did not alter meat quality (Jaturasitha et al., 2009). Guinea grass cv. Monbaca gives higher daily weight gains while cv. Masai allows higher stocking rate (Euclides et al., 2008). Adding 60% autoclaved broiler litter to a Guinea grass-based diet in Zebu heifers increased the intake of digestible nutrients and body weight gain (Belewu, 1998).
The protein content of Guinea grass pasture was found insufficient for meeting the nutritional requirement of lambs in South Africa (Relling et al., 2001) and in the Fiji (Aregheore et al., 2004). It was suggested to supplement Guinea grass with a concentrate or with a legume (Aschfalk et al., 2002; Brown et al., 1995). In sheep fed on a Guinea grass hay-based diet, urea treatment or supplementation with poultry manure helped to improve feed conversion ratio and growth performance (Yousuf et al., 2007; Brown et al., 1995). Exogenous fibrolytic enzyme had no effect on rumen digestibility of Guinea grass hay (Avellaneda et al., 2009). Iodinated casein was found to increase rumen potential degradability of Guinea grass (Silva et al., 2007).
Feeding goats with Guinea grass gives better results when it is supplemented with a legume (Ajayi et al., 2008; Bamikole, 2003; Viengsavanh Phimphachanhvongsod et al., 2002) or a crop residue-based concentrate (Aregheore, 2003). Supplementation increased feed intake and nutrient utilization (Viengsavanh Phimphachanhvongsod et al., 2002; Bamikole et al., 2001).