Tropical Grasslands (1998) Volume 32, 166–172

Stockpiling herbaceous tropical legumes for dry season feed in Jamaica

I.F. ANDRADE1, L.G. ATKINSON2, L.E. SOLLENBERGER2, G.J. RUEGSEGGER3, P. MISLEVY4 and R.S. KALMBACHER4

1Agricultural Research Institute, Minas Gerais, Brazil
2Agronomy Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
3Dairy Nutrition Services, Chandler, Arizona, USA
4Range Cattle Research Station, Ona, Florida, USA

Abstract

Quantity and quality of forage available during the dry season limit livestock production in Jamaica. The objective of this research was to assess stockpiling of forage legumes as an option for dry season feeding. Six forage entries were compared, including Siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum), rabbit vine (Teramnus labialis), rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata), pinto peanut (Arachis pintoi), a mixture of Siratro, rabbit vine, and glycine (Neonotonia wightii), and a stargrass (Cynodon nlemfuensis) control fertilised with 100 kg/ha N per year. Other treatments were date of initiation of stockpiling (October, November and December 1) and length of stockpiling period (45, 75, 105 and 135 days). With few exceptions, stargrass yield (average of 4.6 t/ha) was 2–3 times greater than that of the legumes. After 2 years, percent cover of Siratro declined from 95% to 25%, but rabbit vine and the mixture maintained more than 50% legume cover. Rhizoma and pinto peanut established slowly, were defoliated only in the second year, and had 81% and 44% cover, respectively, at the end of the experiment. The crude protein of herbage from legume plots averaged 1.5 to 2 times that of stargrass, and digestibility averaged 10 percentage units higher than that of stargrass. Initiation of stockpiling between November 1 and December 1 may allow cattle to remain on pastures to be used for stockpiling while rains continue in October and may provide relatively high quality forage for use during most of the December–March dry season.

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