Tropical Grasslands (2003) Volume 37, 94100
A feeding strategy of combining tropical grass species for stall-fed dairy cows
J.M.N. BWIRE1, H. WIKTORSSON1 and A.J. MWILAWA2
1 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Uppsala, Sweden
An experiment was carried out to determine dry matter (DM) yield and frequency distribution of tropical grass species and to investigate the effects of feeding various combinations of these species on the performance of dual-purpose cows managed under a zero-grazing system in semi-arid areas of central Tanzania. Cenchrus ciliaris, Cynodon plectostachyus and Rottiboeria exeltata had the highest yields, while Chloris gayana and Heteropogon contortus yielded the least. Combinations of these grass species in a 50:50 ratio comprised of 4 rations tested: R1, Cenchrus ciliaris (CC) and Panicum maximum (PM); R2, CC and Cynodon plectostachyus (CPL); R3, PM and CPL; and R4, CPL and Rottiboeria exeltata. Eight cows in a double 4 x 4 Latin square design were fed rations R1-R4 ad libitum supplemented with concentrate (33% sunflower seed cake and 67% maize bran), that accounted for about 40% of DM intake. Total DM intakes of all rations were similar. R2 had the highest digestibility and metabolisable energy and crude protein concentrations. Cows produced more milk (5.3 kg/d, excluding milk suckled by the calves) on R2 than on R3, R1 and R4, which resulted in 4.6, 4.9 and 4.8 kg/d, respectively. Milk components were similar. Combining Cenchrus ciliaris and Cynodon plectostachyus provided good quality hay for milk production.