Axonopus compressus is one of the main species used in grazing systems under tree plantations in Asia and Oceania because of its ability to grow and tolerate heavy grazing while maintaining quality under shade (light transmission less than 50%) (Stür et al., 1990; Samarakoon et al., 1990). In spite of the importance of Axonopus compressus in pastures, its nutritive value and its potential for livestock has not been widely investigated.
Typical in vitro DM digestibility values are in the 54-65% range. However, much lower (32%; Holm, 1971a) and much higher in vivo DM digestibility values (75%; Kaligis et al., 1990) have been reported. In vitro DM digestibility of Axonopus compressus herbage grown under shade was slightly higher (1-2 units) than that for the herbage grown in full sunlight, an effect contrary to much of the published literature (Samarakoon et al., 1990). Potential in vitro gas production of Axonopus compressus was low when sampled during the dry season but similar to other grass species during the rainy season (Evitayani et al., 2004b).
Sheep and lambs
Under intensive continuous grazing in the subtropics, daily live-weight gain in lambs was lower by 34% on a native grassland dominated by Axonopus compressus than on a native grassland dominated by Paspalum notatum (0.045 kg/lamb/d vs. 0.060 kg/lamb/d). This may have been related to the lower pasture in vitro OM digestibility (56% for Axonopus compressus vs. 65% for Paspalum notatum) (Aviles-Nova et al., 2008).
In goats fed ad libitum indoors, in vivo DM digestibility and voluntary intake of aged Axonopus compressus swards (12 weeks of regrowth, 37% dead material) were higher than those observed in several young or aged swards of similar grass species. At the same age of regrowth, voluntary intake was 19% and 28% higher for Axonopus compressus than for Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus) and Dallis grass (Paspalum dilatatum) swards respectively (Kaligis et al., 1990)
There are no reported studies concerning the use of blanket grass for the feeding of dairy cows and no recent work on beef cattle (2012). In Japan, Axonopus compressus was found to be one of the most palatable grasses in a comparison between 10 pasture species for grazing cattle (Nada, 1985). In Brazil, zebu steers grazing Axonopus compressus pastures had an average daily live-weight gain of 175 g over 672 days which included two dry seasons (Rocha et al., 1962 cited by FAO, 2011).