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Blue signal grass (Brachiaria leersioides)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Blue signal grass

Taxonomic information 

Many Brachiaria species, including Brachiaria leersioides, have been placed by some authors in the Urochloa genus, so the taxon Urochloa leersioides is often considered as the correct one. However, these changes remain disputed and even recent papers still refer to Brachiaria leersioides (Torres González et al., 2005).


Blue signal grass (Brachiaria leersioides (Hoschst.) Stapf) is an annual grass that grows in semi-arid areas (Göhl, 1982). It provides grazing during the dry season (Ibrahim et al., 1988; Bogdan, 1958).


Blue signal grass is a caespitose, tufted annual grass. Its culms are erect and geniculate, slender, 15-70 cm tall. The leaves are mostly cauline, hairy, bluish in colour. The leaf blades are 2-20 cm long, 2-5 mm wide, linear, flat, spreading. The inflorescence is a 3-20 cm long panicle bearing 3-14 racemes along a central axis. Blue signal grass racemes are 1-7 cm long, deflexed or spreading, unilateral (Ibrahim et al., 2016). Spikelets are about 3 mm long (Bogdan, 1958). There are often waxy deposits on the inflorescence (Quattrocchi, 2006).


Brachiaria leersioides is native of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique (Ibrahim et al., 1988). It is also reported in Egypt (Ibrahim et al., 2016). Blue signal grass can be found from sea level to an altitude of 1800 m, in semi-arid regions, in dry grassland and on sandy wadis and shallowstony soils (Quattrocchi, 2006; Ibrahim et al., 1988). It can grow in light shade, in bush and open scrub, but also in woodland (Quattrocchi, 2006). It only seldom forms colonies but usually occurs scattered between other grasses and herbs (Dougall et al., 1965).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Nutritional information about Brachiaria leersioides is scarce. It seems to be a grass of relatively poor to medium quality with a protein content of 9-12% DM.


Very little information is available about the use of Brachiaria leersioides by ruminants. An early report noted that it was grazed by elephants (Dougall et al., 1965) while a later study reported that it represented a minute part of the diet of sheep and Grant's gazelles (Nanger granti) in Kenya (Kilonzo, 2003).


No information seems available in the international literature on the use of Brachiaria leersioides in rabbit feeding (2017). However, this grass is used without problems by wild and domestic ruminants, in Kenya for example (Kilonzo, 2003). Other Brachiaria species such as Brachiaria decumbens, B. ruziziensis, B. mutica or Brachiaria brizantha are commonly used to feed rabbits, mainly as a source of fibre. Blue signal grass is most probably a potential source of forage for rabbits, but experiments would be necessary before extensive use.

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  
Crude protein % DM 9.9   7.9 11.8 2  
Crude fibre % DM 33.5   31.5 35.5 2  
Ether extract % DM 2   1.9 2 2  
Ash % DM 14.1   13.5 14.7 2  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 68.7         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 39.1         *
Lignin % DM 5.2         *
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.2         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 3.9   3.4 4.4 2  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.9   1.6 2.2 2  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 58         *
OM digestibility, ruminants % 61         *

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


Dougall et al., 1965

Last updated on 08/12/2017 22:29:04

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Lebas F., 2018. Blue signal grass (Brachiaria leersioides). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/487 Last updated on February 19, 2018, 10:45