Animal feed resources information system

Para grass (Brachiaria mutica)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Angola grass, buffalo grass, California grass, corigrass, cori grass, Dutch grass, giant couch, Mauritius grass, Numidian grass, panicum grass, Paragrass, Para grass, Penahlonga grass, Scotch grass, watergrass, water grass [English]; Admirable capin, Egipto, gramalote, grama de Pará, hierba de Pará, hierba del Pará, malohillo, Nilo, Pará, Paraná, pasto admirable, pasto de laguna, pasto malojillo, pasto Pará, yerba del parral, zacate Pará [Spanish]: Angola, bengo, capim Angola, capim angolinha, capim Colônia, capim de boi, capim de muda, capim fino, capim de planta, capim de Pará [Portuguese]; herbe de para [French]; rumput malela, sukut kolonjono, jukut inggris [Indonesia]; ya khon [Thai]; cỏ lông tây [Vietnamese] (Miles et al., 1996)


Brachiaria numidiana (Lam.) Henrard; Brachiaria purpurascens (Raddi) Henrard; Panicum amphibium Steud.; Panicum barbinode Trin.; Panicum equinum Salzm. ex Steud.; Panicum molle Sw.; Panicum muticum Forssk.; Panicum numidianum Lam.; Panicum pictigluma Steud.; Panicum punctatum Burm.f.; Panicum punctulatum Arn. ex Steud.; Panicum purpurascens Raddi; Panicum sarmentosum Benth.; Paspalidium punctatum (Burm.f.) A. Camus; Setaria punctata (Burm.f.) Veldkamp; Urochloa mutica (Forssk.) Nguyen; Urochloa mutica (Forssk.) R.D. Webster ex Zon (Quattrocchi, 1996)


Para grass is a palatable, semi-aquatic, good quality forage grass particularly suited to poorly drained, swampy and flooded tropical and subtropical areas. Para grass can be grazed, used in cut-and-carry systems or made into hay or silage. It could be used for erosion control on river banks and steep slopes (FAO, 2017; Lansdown et al., 2013; Cook et al., 2005).


Para grass (Brachiaria mutica) is a perennial, stoloniferous grass. Para grass has stout and long trailing runners that can grow to a length of 5 m in a season (Cook et al., 2005). Erect culms are decumbent, they root from the basal nodes and may reach a height of 0.9-2 (-3) m. Para grass is leafy. Leaf blades are hairy, linear, up to 30 cm long and 16-20 mm wide. The inflorescence is a panicle (6)-10-20 (-30) cm long holding 5-20 spreading racemes (2-15 cm long) (Cook et al., 2005). In spite of its high number of flower heads, para grass is a poor seed producer and its seeds are not very viable (Lansdown et al., 2013).


Para grass is a palatable species mainly used for its high quality forage. A fast growing grass, it can be grazed, used in cut-and-carry systems to be directly fed or to make hay or silage. It is particularly suited to wet, poorly drained places as it can grow in water to 1.2 m deep (Lansdown et al., 2013). In such "pond pastures", para grass is a valuable green reserve of forage during droughts (Cook et al., 2005). Para grass was reported to have ethnomedicinal properties and leaves might be used as antiseptic in cutaneous affections (Lansdown et al., 2013).


Para grass (Brachiaria mutica) is thought to have originated from flood plains of Sub-Saharan Africa (Cook et al., 2005). It would have then spread southward to Central and East Africa. It was introduced as a forage grass or for erosion control into most tropical countries. It is naturally found in poorly drained, swampy or seasonally waterlogged areas, along creeks, rivers, floodplains, wetlands and drainage channels, around lakes and dams, in roadside ditches and in other damp habitats (Hannan-Jones et al., 2012; Cook et al., 2005; Holm, 1977). It can be found in the tropics up to 27°S. It grows from sea level up to an altitude of 1000 m (FAO, 2017)

Para grass most important trait is its semi-aquatic habit. It is a fast growing summer season species. It can grow in flooded conditions: its hairy leaves and hollow stems float over water depths of 0.3 m to 1.2 m depending on water temperature (deeper in warmer water). However, para grass roots do not stand continuous submersion. Para grass can grow in moist soils of humid and sub-humid areas with annual rainfall of 1200-4000 mm, or in swampy areas of drier environments down to 900 mm rainfall (Cook et al., 2005).

Para grass is a warm climate grass that grows effectively at temperatures around 22°C and stops growing under 15°C. It is damaged by frost but not killed. Though para grass prefers alluvial and hydromorphic soils, it does well on a wide range of soils: from sands to clays with moderate to good fertility (Rao et al., 2010; Cook et al., 2005). Para grass is both suited to poorly drained swampy areas and well drained moist soils. Para grass does well on acidic soils (pH 4,5) or containing high contents of trace elements. It has also moderate tolerance to soil salinity (Cook et al., 2005). Para grass could also be grown on alkaline reclaimed soils (Rao et al., 2010). It is a full sunlight grass but tolerates partial shading: it can grow under mature coconuts in the Philippines, but is then susceptible to weeds (Cook et al., 2005). Para grass survives fires (see Environmental impact below) (Cook et al., 2005).

Forage management 


Para grass is a productive plant, usually yielding 5-12 tons DM/ha/year. It responds to N and P fertilizers. A fertilized stand of para grass could yield up to 30 tons DM/ha in Queensland, Australia. In the Philippines, it was possible to obtain the equivalent of 24 tons DM/ha/year under irrigation (Furoc et al., 1976). The lower yields were obtained in humid tropical Vanuatu in mixed stand of unfertilized para grass-puero (Pueraria phaseoloides) with 2-4 tons DM/ha/year. On alkaline soils yields of para grass were only 6% lower than those obtained on fertile soil (Rao et al., 2010).

Pasture management

Para grass is mainly sown as a permanent pasture for grazing, in wet and flooded areas. It can be grown with other semi-aquatic grasses such as german grass (Echinochloa polystachya) and dal grass (Hymenachne amplexicaulis) but it is generally considered to do better in pure stands (Cameron, 2009; Cook et al., 2005). Para grass can do well with legumes adapted to moist conditions such as hetero (Desmodium heterophyllum), puero (Pueraria phaseoloides), centro (Centrosema pubescens) or calopo (Calopogonium mucunoides). It is important that cultivation conditions favour the legume so that para grass does not rapidly outcompete the legume and suppress it (FAO, 2017). In Thailand, a good balance was possible between para grass and centro planted on lateritic red earth soil.

Para grass can be sown or vegetatively propagated. However, it is difficult to establish from seeds: they are expensive, dormant, their germination is low, and small seedlings can be killed by flooding (Cameron, 2009; Cameron et al., 2008). For vegetative propagation, plant cuttings of a length of 25-30 cm with 3-4 nodes should be hand-planted or disc-harrowed to a depth of 10-15 cm with at least 2 nodes buried. Cuttings should be placed at 1 m interval. Para grass requires weeding till not fully established (Cameron et al., 2008). When seeds are used, they can be sown at 1-2 kg/ha in the ashes of a burn or on a well-prepared seed-bed, or directly into wet areas (FAO, 2017; Cameron, 2009).

Para grass has vigorous growth: it can spread 5 m in a season and competes vigorously with weeds. However, it is sensitive to heavy grazing. It should not be grazed before the stand reaches 30-70 cm high and should not be grazed below 20 cm so that the growing point is not damaged. It is recommended to avoid early grazings during the first year of growth as it results in the pulling out and destruction of cuttings (Cameron et al., 2008; Cook et al., 2005). It generally takes 12 months for a stand to develop properly (Cameron et al., 2008). After establishment a light to moderate grazing pressure is favourable to regrowth and forage quality, and prevents weed development. Under too high grazing pressure para grass becomes very open and subject to invading species (Cook et al., 2005).

Hay and silage

The semi-aquatic habit of para grass is not adapted to mechanical harvest. However, hay and silage can be made in places where cut-and-carry is common. Para grass makes good silage with only 10% DM losses.

Deferred feed

Para grass is a valuable deferred feed in driers areas where it keeps growing on residual moist places and provides green feed for livestock (FAO, 2017). However, livestock should not enter wet stands as it may damage the stand through pugging (Cameron et al., 2008).

Environmental impact 

Water flow and erosion control

Para grass is particularly adapted for the control of water flow and erosion of river banks (Schultze-Kraft et al., 1992). However, para grass may become an issue in ditches, headlands drains and earth tanks where it may choke water flow, increase sedimentation and cause waterlogging of neighbouring crops as this is the case for sugar cane crops in Australia (Hannan-Jones et al., 2012). Sedimented conditions were also reported to smother benthic species and thus reduce the biodiversity of wetlands (Hannan-Jones et al., 2012).


If ungrazed in wetlands of northern Australia, para grass may become a fuel for fires that occur during the dry season. In Australia, para grass was reported to represent a much bigger fuel load than native grasses. It is thus more likely to burn every dry season (Hannan-Jones et al., 2012). These fires are a threat to natural stands of Melaleuca trees (Cook et al., 2005).


As a long-lived, vegetatively propagating pioneering species of disturbed areas, para grass has potential for invasiveness. It is also reported to benefit from cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation and fire (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2014). It may have deleterious effects on native plant species such as wild rice (Oryza australiensis) whose seeds provide food for indigenous birds. No later than 1977, para grass was listed as a serious weed in Australia, Fiji and Thailand, as a weed in Sri Lanka, Colombia, Hawaii, Jamaica, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Trinidad, and as a common weed in Borneo and Mauritius (Holm, 1977).


Para grass, when coupled with a complex of endophytic bacteria (Acinetobacter sp. and Pseudomonas aeruginosa), holds great potential for the remediation of polluted environments, such as crude-oil contaminated soils. Para grass could degrade up to 78% crude oil (Fatima et al., 2016).
Nutritional aspects

Should be grazed rotationally as it does not withstand heavy grazing. Often used as green chopped forage; not suitable for silage.


Green para grass, cut every day, is a forage traditionally employed in medium or small farms to feed rabbits in the tropical Asian countries such as Cambodia (Pok Samkol et al., 2007), Vietnam (Nguyen Thi Kim Dong et al., 2008), Thailand (Kijparkorn et al., 1988), the Philippines (Cortez et al., 1981), or India (Das et al., 2005; Ghosh et al., 2011). Few information seems available on its use in other parts of the world with the exception of one study conducted in Peru (Pinedo Ruiz, 1982). Because it is considered as a traditional forage, in some experiments conducted with para grass the objective was not to evaluate the potential of this forage , but on the contrary to try remplacing para gras with some other forage such as Psophocarpus scandens or Eichhornia crassipes (Nguyen Van Thu et al., 2008; Nguyen Van Thu et al., 2009).

Green para grass used as a sole feed is not able to support rabbit maintenance (Saikia et al., 2004). For this reason it is employed together with other forages richer in protein, such as water spinach (Nguyen Thi Kim Dong et al., 2006), or more frequently with a concentrate generally offered in limited quantity (Ghosh et al., 2008; Kovitvadhi et al., 2016). The recommended proportion of green para grass and concentrate varies widely between experiments, from 20:80 to 80:20 on DM basis, depending on the forage and concentrate characteristics. A proportion of about 25% forage and 75% concentrate seems optimum for growing and reproducing rabbits (Bora et al., 2014; Kovitvadhi et al., 2016). If a balanced concentrate and green Brachiaria mutica are both proposed ad libitum to growing rabbits, the spontaneous proportions of para gras is 12% of the total dry matter intake; but there is no valorisation of the forage since concentrate spontaneous intake is non significantly increased (+1%) and growth rate non significantly reduced (-3%) when compared to the concentrate alone (Keeratikajorn et al., 2012).

Therefore, green Brachiaria mutica (or hay) should be considered as a potential fibrous forage for rabbits with a relatively low content in protein (10-12%), to be used as complement to other raw materials or compound feeds.

Nutritional tables

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 27.5 7.1 16.3 41.9 251
Crude protein % DM 7.9 3.0 3.7 15.8 295
Crude fibre % DM 35.7 2.7 28.7 40.0 294
NDF % DM 68.5 4.0 66.0 80.3 37 *
ADF % DM 41.9 4.4 33.4 50.0 37 *
Lignin % DM 6.2 1.3 3.6 10.0 35 *
Ether extract % DM 1.6 0.5 0.9 3.0 267
Ash % DM 9.6 1.9 6.1 13.8 297
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.0 0.4 17.9 19.7 27 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 3.4 0.8 1.9 5.3 278
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.4 0.9 0.9 4.3 281
Potassium g/kg DM 18.1 6.6 7.0 31.5 256
Sodium g/kg DM 3.7 2.4 0.7 8.7 39
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.5 0.6 1.5 4.1 244
Manganese mg/kg DM 174 76 53 357 54
Zinc mg/kg DM 46 16 25 85 53
Copper mg/kg DM 9 3 4 15 53
Iron mg/kg DM 1493 2096 250 3913 3
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 53.4 10.2 39.3 77.0 14 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 51.1 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.2 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.4 *
ME ruminants (gas production) MJ/kg DM 6.4 1
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 52.6 15.9 26.0 73.5 14

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


Aumont et al., 1991; Butterworth, 1963; CIRAD, 1991; Dirven, 1962; FUSAGx/CRAW, 2009; Gowda et al., 2004; Gowda et al., 2005; Ho Quang Do et al., 2002; Holm, 1971; Khanum et al., 2007; Loosli et al., 1954; Nasrullah et al., 2003; Nguyen Van Thu et al., 2009; Pozy et al., 1996; Prasad et al., 2005; Richard et al., 1989; Singh et al., 1992; Work, 1937

Last updated on 27/11/2012 14:26:00

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 86.6 2.8 82.9 91.7 17
Crude protein % DM 7.5 2.0 4.2 12.4 17
Crude fibre % DM 33.1 1.7 30.3 36.9 17
NDF % DM 68.7 68.7 81.8 2 *
ADF % DM 39.0 39.0 53.3 2 *
Lignin % DM 5.5 5.3 7.7 2 *
Ether extract % DM 1.9 0.2 1.6 2.1 17
Ash % DM 10.4 0.9 8.9 12.3 17
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.7 17.7 18.1 2 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 3.2 1.7 1.0 6.3 9
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.0 0.9 2.6 5.7 12
Potassium g/kg DM 15.5 9.7 4.7 34.4 11
Sodium g/kg DM 3.1 3.0 0.8 8.2 8
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.2 0.9 1.4 3.6 4
Manganese mg/kg DM 117 94 140 2
Zinc mg/kg DM 84 65 102 2
Copper mg/kg DM 12 11 12 2
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 52.7 49.0 52.7 2 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 50.3 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.9 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.2 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 42.5 8.7 35.0 50.0 4

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


Chandrasekaran et al., 1989; CIRAD, 1991; Holm, 1971; Holm, 1971

Last updated on 27/11/2012 14:26:29

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 14.0 1
Crude fibre % DM 31.0 1
NDF % DM 64.4 *
ADF % DM 36.7 *
Lignin % DM 4.9 *
Ether extract % DM 2.2 1
Ash % DM 8.1 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.6 *
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 62.5 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 59.8 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.1 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.9 *

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


Dirven, 1962

Last updated on 27/11/2012 14:26:53

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 5.9 1
Crude fibre % DM 41.5 1
NDF % DM 69.8 *
ADF % DM 48.3 *
Lignin % DM 7.7 *
Ether extract % DM 0.8 1
Ash % DM 6.3 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.5 *
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 49.0 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 46.8 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.7 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.0 *

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


Dirven, 1962

Last updated on 27/11/2012 14:27:12

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 21.6 16.9 26.3 2
Crude protein % DM 12.1 8.7 15.4 2
Crude fibre % DM 29.9 27.2 32.7 2
NDF % DM 65.7 *
ADF % DM 35.5 *
Lignin % DM 4.7 *
Ether extract % DM 3.5 3.4 3.5 2
Ash % DM 10.1 8.4 11.8 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.3 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 4.6 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.6 1
Potassium g/kg DM 10.6 1
Sodium g/kg DM 1.9 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 60.4 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 57.7 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.6 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.5 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 43.1 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 7.9 *

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


Bhannasiri, 1970; Holm, 1971

Last updated on 27/11/2012 14:27:33

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/486 Last updated on June 1, 2017, 13:01