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Armgrass millet (Brachiaria distachya)


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Common names 

Armgrass millet, green summer grass [English]; blembem [Indonesian]; rumput [Malay]; gome-gome [Philippines]; cỏ vừng; cỏ chỉ trắng; vĩ thảo hai gié [Vietnamese]; 臂形草属 [Chinese]


Brachiaria distachya (L.) Stapf, Panicum distachyum L., Panicum distachyon L., Digitaria distachya (L.) Pers. (Manidool, 1992), Brachiaria subquadripara (Trin.) Hitch., Brachiaria miliiformis (J. Presl) Chase, Urochloa subquadripara (Trin.) R. D. Webster, Urochloa distachya (L.) T. Q. Nguyen (Quattrocchi, 2006)

Related feed(s) 

The armgrass millet (Brachiaria distachya (L.) Stapf) is a stoloniferous annual grass rooting from the nodes. The culms (1-2 m long) creep on the surface of the soil. The flowering branches are erect, up to 20-40 cm high. The leaves are linear or narrowly lanceolate, 2-8 cm long x 3-7 mm broad. Inflorescences are 2-10 racemes borne on a 0.5-2 cm long axis. Racemes are 1-3 cm long and bear 2 rows of green, shiny, 2.4-3 mm long, oblong spikelets (FAO, 2010; Quattrocchi, 2006; Galinato et al., 1999; Clayton et al., 2006). Brachiaria distachya is generally used as forage and is very palatable to livestock. It makes valuable hay in India (Galinato et al., 1999).


Brachiaria distachya is native to tropical Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand). It is naturalized in the tropics (USDA, 2010), including Africa (Galinato et al., 1999), Australia and the Pacific Islands (Manidool, 1992). It is found in humid tropical lowlands and occasionally is common in lawns, crops (such as rice and sugarcane), open spaces, forest edges, on seashores and on roadsides where cattle can graze it freely (US Forest Service, 2010; Manidool, 1992). It grows best from sea level to about 800 m, in light shady conditions and on sandy loam soils. It cannot withstand waterlogging but is tolerant of poor soils (Manidool, 1992).

Forage management 

In Thailand, Brachiaria distachya has been reported to yield from 3 t DM/ha/year with no fertilizer to 9 t DM/ha/year with mixed fertilizer. It gave 16.6 t DM/ha/year under 240 kg N + 100 kg P2O5 + 100 kg K2O in the Chiang Mai region (FAO, 2010). It also yielded 15.89 t DM/ha under irrigation with an N fertilizer (300 kg N/ha/year) (Furoc et al., 1976). Armgrass millet can withstand a stocking rate of 5 cows/ha (Holm, 1973). Armgrass millet is sensitive to grazing and light grazing is recommended in order to maintain grass quality (Shanmughavel, 1995).

Environmental impact 

Brachiaria distachya may be used as soil-binder in erosion control and as a trap crop in sorghum ecosystems where it reduces population densities of shoot fly (Atherigona soccata) (FAO, 2010). It is considered as a weed in upland rice cultivations where it hosts several diseases, pests, parasites and viruses (Galinato et al., 1999). In Thailand, armgrass millet can be a reservoir for phytoplasma bacteria, the pathogen responsible for the white leaf disease in sugarcane (Wongkaew et al., 1997).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The protein content of Brachiaria distachya forage ranges from 7% to up to 20% DM, which is higher than that of other Urochloa and Brachiaria species, making it a fodder of relatively high quality, though it is less common than other species (Lowry et al., 1992; Holm, 1971).


Brachiaria distachya is a palatable fodder grass (Göhl, 1982). It can be integrated in intensive cropping system (rice) as fodder for water buffaloes and cattle (Furoc et al., 1976).

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 22.9 2.1 20.5 26.7 16
Crude protein % DM 8.6 1.0 6.9 10.1 16
Crude fibre % DM 27.9 1.5 26.3 30.6 16
NDF % DM 68.0 *
ADF % DM 33.3 *
Lignin % DM 4.1 *
Ether extract % DM 2.9 0.3 2.4 3.3 16
Ash % DM 12.6 1.5 10.2 14.3 16
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.4 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 5.1 1.2 3.6 6.7 10
Phosphorus g/kg DM 5.6 1.0 4.2 7.0 10
Potassium g/kg DM 13.6 2.4 10.9 19.1 10
Sodium g/kg DM 0.4 0.0 0.4 0.5 10
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 54.9 3.1 54.9 65.0 3 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 52.4 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.1 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.4 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 55.6 14.9 42.0 78.0 5

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


Holm, 1971; Holm, 1971

Last updated on 27/11/2012 14:23:13

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Eugène M., 2016. Armgrass millet (Brachiaria distachya). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/488 Last updated on March 22, 2016, 10:59

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