The effect of stage of harvest on dry matter (DM) yield and herbage nutritive value of Panicum coloratum under sub humid climatic conditions of western Ethiopia was evaluated. Three harvesting stage treatments (8, 10 and 12 weeks of regrowth age) were assessed. The herbage DM yield (P<0.05); and leaf (P<0.05) and stem component DM yields (P<0.01); and leaf to stem ratio (P<0.001) values were significantly affected by the age of regrowth. Herbage and stem component DM yields; and stand density exhibited an increasing trend with age of regrowth. Mean herbage DM yield ranged from 11.04±0.91tha-1 to 14.71±0.91tha-1. The crude protein (CP) content was 8.28±0.34 and 8.43±0.34% for the 8 and 10 weeks treatments, respectively, while it declined to 6.27±0.34% for samples harvested at 12 weeks of age. Mean values of neutral detergent fibre (NDF) were generally high for all harvesting treatments, the values ranging from 74.02±0.85 to 77.50±0.85%. The in vitro DM digestibility (IVDMD) values ranged from 46.92% for the 12 weeks to 53.65% for the 8 week harvests. The calcium concentration ranged from 0.38±0.05% for the 10 weeks treatment to 0.51±0.05% for that of 10 weeks. Similarly, phosphorus content varied from 0.13±0.005 to 0.15±0.005% and no clear trend was observed with stage of maturity. It was recommended that the grass be harvested at 8 weeks of regrowth age for optimal yield and quality.
Key words: Dry matter yield, leaf to stem ratio, crude protein, neutral detergent fibre, in vitro dry matter digestibility, calcium, potassium.
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