Country Pasture/Forage Resource Profiles

Sri Lanka

Sujatha Premaratne and G.G.C. Premalal

1. Introduction
2. Soils and Topography
3. Climate and Agro-ecological zones
4. Ruminant Livestock Production Systems
Up-country: Tea Estate Dairy/Market Vegetable System
Mid-Country: Kandyan Forest Garden System
Coconut Triangle and Lowlands
Dry Lowland Systems
5. Pasture and Grassland Resources
Improved Forages
Natural (wild) Guinea grass
Natural Grassland Resources of Sri Lanka
Grassland Productivity
Traditional livestock production in natural grasslands
Present situation of grassland-based livestock production
Issues and development programmes in grassland development
6. Opportunities for Improvements of Grassland Resources
7. Research and Development Organizations and Personnel
8. References
9. Contacts


1. Introduction
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, an island just off the southern tip of India, (between 50 55' and 90 50' North and 790 42' and 810 53' East; 432 km North to South; 224 km West to East) has a population of 19.462 million (according to the World Factbook the July 2006 population estimate was 20,222,240 with a growth rate of 0.78%, although with the ongoing unrest accurate estimates are problematic) on an area of 65,610 sq km (land area- 62,705 sq km; inland water 2,905 sq km). It belongs to the group of developing countries classified by the UN as “most seriously affected” by the international economic crisis. The majority of the Sri Lankan people are Sinhalese (74%; mostly Buddhists). The minorities are Tamils (18%; mostly Hindu), Moors (7.1%) and Burghers (0.3%). Sinhala is the predominant language, followed by Tamil with English being used especially in business and urban areas.

Figure 1. Location of Sri Lanka
Figure 2. Map of Sri Lanka
[Click to view full map]

Most Sri Lankans live in rural areas, so special attention has been given to rural development and land reform. The urban population (21.5%) is mainly concentrated in greater Colombo and five other cities. But 70% of Sri Lanka’s population lives in the south-western economically and climatically favoured province, on only 30% of the country’s land; the dry zone accounts for 60% of the land, but has only 20% of the population. Population density per square kilometre was 310 in 2004 (Annual Report Central Bank, 2004).

Compared to other South and Southeast Asian countries, Sri Lanka ranks very high in parameters of life expectancy (males: 71.7 years; female: 76.4 years), health standards (crude death rate in 2003: 1.89%; rate of natural increase in 2003: 1.28%; infant mortality rate in 2003: 1.11%) and education (literacy rate in 2003-2004: overall: 92.5%; male: 94.5%; female: 90.6%), Annual Report Central Bank, 2004. During the last few years, the population growth rate was reduced to 1.28% (Annual Report Central Bank, 2004) and was only 0.79% in 2005 according to World Factbook . Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the economy and gives employment to at least 34% of employed persons (7,305,000) with a high degree of subsistence farming, and provided 18% of GDP in 2004 (Annual Report Central Bank, 2004).

The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, which expanded by 1.6 per cent in value added terms in 2003, contracted marginally by 0.7% in 2004 mainly due to the impact of inadequate rainfall on certain major crops. The relative importance of the agriculture sector continued to decline from 19 per cent of the GDP in 2003 to 18 per cent in 2004 owing to the low contribution from paddy production. However, production of other subsidiary food crops and vegetables improved, as farmers shifted to them from paddy to ensure maximum use of available water. In fact the ‘other agricultural crops’ category which includes, vegetables, subsidiary food crops, minor export crops, animal husbandry, sugar cane, tobacco, and fruits, expanded by 3.2 per cent in value added terms compared to 1.9 per cent recorded in 2003, while the value added in the fishery sector recorded an improvement of 1.6 per cent.

The livestock sector, mainly the dairy and poultry industries, recorded a mixed performance in 2004: it is estimated that total milk production has grown by 3 per cent to 190.8 million litres and total milk collection increased by 13 per cent due to an improved collection network. Table 1 summarises livestock types, their numbers and products for 1998 – 2004.

Table 1. Sri Lanka statistics for livestock numbers and production for 1998-2004
[Click to view table]

In Sri Lanka, nearly 12,000 km2 of the total land area is under grass (Pemadasa, 1990). Using grassland for livestock through traditional means goes back several centuries. The cohesiveness of traditional societies and social groups in livestock rearing led to holistic approaches that resulted in appropriate, environmentally sound sustainable technologies. Nevertheless, as in many other countries, Sri Lankan grasslands have deteriorated due to mismanagement under the existing socio-economic position. However grasslands remain very important for livestock production and environment stability. There is a continuing need to maintain a broad spectrum of production and conservation interests in order to ensure the effective and suitable management of the grassland resource (Premaratne et al., 2003).


2. Soils and Topography

In general, Sri Lankan soils do not pose a major problem for forage and other crop production. The major soil groups and their extents are given in Table 2. The physical properties of major soil groups viz; Reddish Brown Earths, Red Yellow Podzolic, Red and Yellow Latosols, Reddish Brown Latasolic are favourable for wide-ranging agricultural purposes. The fertility of wet zone soils is poor because these soils have been extensively leached due to high rainfall. The CEC values of most of the soils are low. Therefore, special fertilizer management practices on these soils are required. The base saturation of the dry zone soils remains at a higher range. Solodized solonetz, Bog and Half Bog soils are the major groups of problem soils found in the country.

Table 2. Extent of the major soil groups in Sri Lanka

Major Soil Group

Area (ha.)


Reddish Brown Earths and Immature Brown Loams; rolling, hilly and steep terrain



Non-calcic Brown soils, soils on old alluvium and Solonetz; undulating terrain



Red-Yellow Latosols; flat to slightly undulating terrain



Calcic Red-Yellow Latosols, flat terrain



Solodized Solonetz and Solonchaks; flat terrain



Grumusols; flat terrain



Soils on recent marine calcareous sediments; flat terrain



Alluvial soils of variable drainage and texture; flat terrain



Regosols on recent beach and dune sands; flat terrain



Red-Yellow Podzolic soils with semi-prominent A1 horizon; hilly and rolling terrain



Reddish Brown Latosolic soils; steeply dissected, hilly and rolling terrain



Immature Brown Loams; steeply dissected, hilly and rolling terrain



Bog and Half-Bog soils; flat terrain



Latosols and Regosols on old red and yellow sands; flat terrain



Alluvial soils of variable drainage and texture; flat terrain


Regosols on recent beach sands; flat terrain


Three topographic zones, namely the central highlands, the plains, and the coastal belt are distinguished by elevation. The south-central part (Central Highlands) is the heart of the country and the core of this area is a high plateau, running north-south for approximately sixty-five kilometres. This area includes some of Sri Lanka's highest mountains (Pidurutalagala is the highest at 2,524 metres). On the east, the Uva Basin consists of rolling, grass-covered hills, traversed by some deep valleys and gorges. The land descends from the Central Highlands to a series of escarpments and ledges at 400 to 500 metres before sloping down to the coastal plains.

Most of the island's surface consists of plains between 30 and 200 metres above sea level. In the south-west, ridges and valleys rise gradually to merge with the Central Highlands, giving a dissected appearance to the plain. The coastal belt, about thirty metres above sea level, surrounds the island. Sri Lanka's rivers rise in the Central Highlands and flow in a radial pattern toward the sea; most of them are short. Sixteen principal rivers are longer than 100 kilometres; twelve of them carry about 75 percent of the mean river discharge of the country. The longest river is the Mahaweli Ganga at 335 kilometres in length.

Figure 3. Topographic features of the country


3. Climate and Agro-ecological Zones

Sri Lanka is in the north-equatorial tropical zone. The climate is tropical with high humidity and temperature which vary with altitude. At a given altitude, temperature is constant throughout the year and is not a limiting factor to crop production except at higher altitudes, where frosts occasionally occur. Seasons are not determined by change of temperature, but by the rainfall distribution influenced by convectional precipitation and two monsoons. The northeast monsoon in November – February is locally called “Maha season” and the south-west monsoon from May – September “Yala season”.

Topography plays a major role in the pattern of rainfall distribution. While the northeast monsoon rains are island wide, the mountains intercept the southwest monsoon. Thus the country can be divided into three climatic zones:

a) The highlands and the southwest receiving both monsoons are the “Wet zone”. This is the most intensively exploited zone with 67% of it’s area under permanent agriculture.

b) The Northern and Eastern lowlands receiving only the Northeast monsoons are the “Dry zone”. This zone covers two thirds of the island. It is the most favoured area with regard to radiation levels. But lack of rainfall during February – September is a major constraint to crop production. With irrigation, yield potential for field crops is high in the zone.

c) A narrow strip of land fringing the highlands to the North and East lies between the two zones and is the “Intermediate zone”. It is dominated by coconuts along the Western Coastal region, where dairy production has a long tradition.

Figure 4. Average annual rainfall (1961-1990)
[Click to view full image]

Agro-ecological Zones
Sri Lanka has a heterogeneous agro-ecological environment and many workers have made efforts to classify this situation. A particular agro-ecological region represents fairly even agro-climate, soils and terrain conditions and would support a particular farming system with a certain range of crops and farming practices, including forage cultivation and livestock farming.

On rainfall distribution, Sri Lanka has traditionally been classified into three climatic zones viz; the Wet Zone, Dry Zone and Intermediate Zone. The Wet Zone covers the south-western region including the central hill country and receives relatively high mean annual rainfall over 2,500 mm without pronounced dry periods. The Dry Zone covers predominantly the northern and eastern part of the country, being separated from the Wet Zone by the Intermediate Zone. The Dry zone receives a mean annual rainfall of less than 1,750 mm with a distinct dry season from May to September. The Intermediate zone receives a mean annual rainfall between 1,750 to 2,500 mm with a short and less prominent dry season.

In differentiating these three major climatic zones; land use, forestry, rainfall and soils are widely used and as a result, they were divided into 24 agro-ecological regions. Environmental change, availability of more spatial and temporal data and advancement of GIS technology has led to the sub-division of the 24 agro-ecological regions of Sri Lanka into 46 sub-regions. Figure 5 shows the main agro-ecological (agro-climatic) zones.

Figure 5. Agro-ecological zones of Sri Lanka
[Click to view full image]

The largest number of cattle is found in the dry zones, where herd sizes are also the largest. The relative distribution of cross bred dairy cattle is highest in the mid- and up-country as well in the wet lowlands near Colombo. In the first case, this can be attributed to the temperate climatic conducive to the health and performance of improved animals. While in the second case, it may be attributed to the high milk prices available through the informal market close to the urban area, under which circumstances the risks to improved animals of lowland conditions are acceptable.


 4. Ruminant Livestock Production Systems

General Background
Livestock numbers for the period 1998-2004 have been described earlier in Table 1.

Livestock keeping in the country not only depends on the agro-ecological conditions (like climate or pasture) but also on the farming traditions (crop-livestock integration for example) and the farmer’s socio-cultural and religious environment. The main purpose of cattle keeping varies according to the type, breed, and agro-ecological zone. For example, up-country, improved cattle are kept only for milk and manure, whereas the local Lankan cattle are also used as draught animals. In the coconut triangle, buffaloes provide both milk and draught. In Sri Lanka, cattle and buffaloes are not reared for meat per se because of religious barriers and, meat is a by-product of the dairy industry. Most of the older animals, culled animals, male animals and native animals are being slaughtered to produce beef. It is illegal to slaughter buffaloes. Leather is a by-product from the slaughtered animals.

In general, 1.8 million smallholdings covering 1.42 million hectares (approximately 0.8 hectares per holding) produce food crops and animal products mostly for domestic consumption; a third of holdings have livestock. On the other hand, holdings of the cattle population (holdings of less than 4 hectares) account for about 95 % in the livestock sector.

In 2004 and 2005 beef and veal production in Sri Lanka was estimated at 28,200 and 29,000 mt respectively, buffalo meat was 3,503 and 3,955 mt, chicken meat 94,700 and 99,500 mt, eggs 49,590 and 52,000 mt, goat meat 1,430 and 1,500 mt and mutton and lamb 148 and 156 mt. (FAOSTAT 2006).

Milk is the principal element of the livestock sector, having reached a level of about 165,580 Mt in 2004 and 174,100 Mt in 2005. Of this about 60-70% is domestically consumed or locally marketed. Only about one-third of the total production is processed into milk powder, yoghurt, butterfat etc.. To satisfy the national demand, a total of 65,792,177 kg of dairy products, mainly milk powder are annually imported, which cost US$ 109,512,105 per year (Livestock Statistics, 2002). According to FAOSTAT the value of all dairy products imported in 2003 was US$119,908,000 and US$122,359,000 in 2004, of which almost US$112 M (2003) and US$113 M (2004) was for dry milk powder. In addition beef and veal imports in 2003 and 2004 were 50 and 54 mt, chicken meat was 2,314 and 1,645 mt, with milk equivalent imports totalling 506,901 and 434,483 mt.

Agro-ecological regions and livestock production
From the point of view of livestock production, the country is divided into four agro-ecological regions.

  • Up-Country and Mid-Country
  • Coconut Triangle
  • Low Country Wet Zone (Wet Lowland)
  • Dry Zone (Dry Lowland)

There zones reflect the effects of both altitude and precipitation. The common topographic and climatic features, type of animals and husbandry practices in the major systems are given in Table 3.

Table 3. Cattle and Buffalo systems: topography, climate and animal husbandry


Elevation (m)

Rainfall (mm)

Temp. Range 0C

Animal Types

Husbandry Practices

Up country




Pure exotic and crosses; some zebu crosses

Zero grazing, small herds; some tethering

Coconut triangle




Crosses of exotic breeds. Zebu types, Indigenous animals and crosses, Buffaloes

Limited grazing, tethered under coconut palms medium size herds

Wet lowlands




As above

Limited grazing, medium size herds

Dry lowlands




Indigenous cattle, zebu cattle and their crosses, Buffaloes

Free grazing, large nomadic herds, Sedentary small herds in irrigated schemes.

Source: Ibrahim et al., 1999

Up-country: Tea Estate Dairy/ Market Vegetable System
This zone is characterized by tea plantations and dairy production from cattle kept in two systems, the estate- and village-based system (the system can also be found in mid-country tea lands).The zone has few buffalo. The mean herd size is 3 - 4 with an average of one lactating cow. Many employees of the tea estates have dairy cattle, mainly European breeds, Friesian, Jersey and Ayrshire and their crosses (Ibrahim, 2000) which are kept in sheds beside workers’ quarters. There is extensive use of artificial insemination. In the village-based system most smallholders are crop-livestock farmers, growing vegetables and paddy. Manure is a major product of their cattle, with milk often a secondary source of income (Zemmelink et al., 1999).

Feed resources are generally constraining with producers dependent on cutting from small plots of steep pasture above the tea land, in gullies or valleys or on scavenging Gliricidia, Erythrina, etc. from plantations (Premaratne et al., 1997,1998; Stewart et al., 1998). Fodder supplies are seasonal as are concentrate prices and there is very little or no grazing. Milk marketing systems are well developed and are assisted by the concentration of estate workers into villages, with usually twice a day milk collection. Multiple milk collection and processing organizations operate in the area.

Manure is an important output of the system and is marketed through private entrepreneurs who collect directly from farms and sell to market gardeners in the Nuwara-eliya area. There is very little room for expansion of production in these areas due to feed and land constraints. Allocation of unused tea lands for fodder could increase the animal production in this area.

Mid-Country: Kandyan Forest Garden System
The mid-country zone has the highest (75%) proportion of dairy cattle, mainly Jersey, Ayrshire and Friesian crosses, and the highest proportion of purebreds (25%). Artificial insemination is widespread and increasing. The zone is characterized by medium-intensity dairy production. but also has some zebu cattle and local buffaloes (Ibrahim, 2000). Average milk yields are about 6 litres/cow/day or around 1,500 litres/cow/lactation. Farms combine a homestead tree garden system with rice production in the low-lying land, generally cultivated by buffalo. Farm or landholding size averages 1.6 hectares, encouraging the adoption of more intensive feeding. There is an increasing dependence on off-farm fodder and on bought concentrates which are influenced by the level of household income (Zemmelink et al., 1999).

Feed resources are not a severe constraint overall, although they can be seasonally. Cattle are often grazed - tethered on paddy land or bunds (Premaratne, 1993b; Premaratne and Sivaram, 1995; Premaratne, 1996 and 2000). Concentrates, mainly poonac (copra cake) and rice bran, are used. Manure is used on paddy or other crops or sold. A number of dairy co-operatives are well established and are providing services such as concentrate feed on credit, and in some cases AI and extension, as well as loans. In this zone the immediate constraint to increased milk production may be the inefficient feeding of dairy cattle. Access to livestock extension is poor and is a constraint to greater productivity. Access to AI and health services is generally good but variable, constrained in some areas by terrain, infrastructure and distances.

Coconut Triangle and Lowlands
In this area, which forms most of the peri-urban dairy system around Colombo, there is wide variation in level of integration of crop and livestock and in level of intensification. The system is relatively extensive, with landholdings reported at about 4 acres/household (Ibrahim, 2000). Cattle and buffalo form an integral port of farming systems, helping in weed control and providing manure in coconut lands. Buffaloes are used for paddy cultivation. In both zones cattle and buffalo graze or are tethered on fallow paddy fields and on natural pasture under the coconut plantations and in non-cultivated areas, including common properties. This is supplemented with grass from roadsides. Coconut poonac and some bran are often fed as local availability is high. Rice straw is not generally used, but it may occasionally be in dry seasons (Perera et al., 1999; Premaratne et al., 1999; Ibrahim and Premaratne, 1999). Manure is used in situ, on crops, or sold. There is considerable variety of genotype of cattle including zebu, crossbred, local and Indian buffaloes. Under intensive management system, Jersey and Holstein Friesian are used in the area. The F1 sire breed for intensive systems is Jersey x Sahiwal, Holstein Friesian x Sahiwal, AMZ or AFZ. In addition, Zebu breeds such as Sahiwal are used under extensive management. AI is being used and appears to be on the increase.
Figure 6. Cattle grazing under coconut
Figure 7. Sheep grazing under coconut
[Click to view full images]

Milk marketing is generally adequate and market infrastructure is good. Buffalo milk is generally converted to curd for which there is high demand. The potential for fodder production is not fully exploited in spite of current availability of pasture subsidies. Labour constraints again are likely to play a role in this due to proximity of urban areas.

Dry Lowland Systems
This large zone encompasses a considerable variety of settings, from sub-humid forest to dry scrub to large irrigated rice-growing areas. The zone is typified by use of indigenous breeds. Cattle and buffalo form an important capital asset for peasant farmers and where there is the possibility to sell milk, are becoming an important source of income.

In the north and south systems focus on low technical efficiency, low cost and labour-efficient extensive beef-dairy production. On average cows make up 40% of the cattle herds and 50% of the buffalo herds which graze for most of the year on paddy lands, bunds and scrub jungles. There is almost no use of concentrates and little of crop residues, although buffaloes are fed rice straw. Silage is produced in most of the government farms but hay production is more common with farmers, although amounts produced are small (Ibrahim et al., 1989; Panditharatne et al., 1986a and b; Premaratne et al., 1993; Samaraweera et al., 2001). In the rainy season milk collection may fall as animals are moved off paddy lands. AI is severely constrained by open herd management, so that upgrading is occurring through use of studs. There is very poor access to extension services.

The average production of milk from an indigenous breed is less than 1 litre/cow/day, with 2-5 times more from dairy-cross breeds. The primary product is beef animals, mostly males up to 2 years old, which are sold once or twice a year to traders. Milk is sold when available and some of the standard collection structures apply, although distance is a limiting factor, as is low milk density. Milk prices are relatively high due to high fat and SNF, providing a good incentive for increased production. In some areas curd marketing is well organized but milk spoilage is relatively high due to poor refrigeration facilities.

There is some potential for increased production if market systems and price incentives are improved. The most direct means for increase could be upgrading of local animals, with focus on buffaloes and in that case a focus on the use of stud bulls to overcome the practical constraints to AI.


5. Pasture and Grassland Resources

Improved forages
A number of reports have dealt with improved forages in Sri Lanka, including those by Chadhokar (1980), Chadhokar and Lecamwasam (1982), Dissanayake and Waidyanatha (1987), Jayasundera and Marasinghe (1989), Jayawardana (1985), Lane (1981), Liyanage (1986), Liyanage (1989), Liyanage (1990), Liyanage (1991), Liyanage and Jayasundera (1988), Liyanage et al. (1989), Liyanage and Pathirana (1992), Westenbrink (1986) and Zemmelink et al. (1999).

Chadhokar (1980) focused on the forage problems of small dairy farmers in the Mid-Country and Coconut Triangle and reported on forages, silage making, drought feeding, useful fodder trees and forage seed production. Liyanage and Jayasundera (1988) demonstrated the value of Gliricidia as an animal feed and Chadhokar and Lecamwasam (1982) reported the results of feeding Gliricidia maculata to milking cows; Jayawardana (1985) reported on the pastures of Sri Lanka while most of the studies dealt with various aspects of integrating pastures with coconuts. For a comprehensive study of the integration of pastures and coconuts reference should be made to Reynolds (1995).

However, in spite of various research, farm grown or improved pastures are not practiced to any great extent in Sri Lanka especially among smallholdings due to socio-economic limitations. These limitations are; unavailability of land, lack of inputs, lack of establishment and management experiences, low awareness of improved forage technology and poor animal production outcomes. However, among middle level holdings and large scale farms, there is a considerable trend for improved pasture and fodder utilization. Types of forages presently available or grown in the country and their yields under different management conditions are summarized in Table 4.

Figure 8. Cultivated Fodder
(Hybrid Napier Var.CO-3)
Figure 9. Fodder grass chopping
Figure 10. A fodder growth and yield trial at the Veterinary Research Institute at Gannoruwa, near Peradeniya
[Click to view full images]


Table 4. Common forages and their yields under different management conditions

Forage type (species, varieties etc.)

Yield (Dry or fresh as mentioned below)

Hybrid Napier (Var. CO-3 and Bana)

(Pennisetum purpureum x P. americanum)

 Fresh yield: 5-8 kg / Plant at 45d cutting interval and 1 x 1 m spacing under good management

Dry Matter Yield: 40,000 – 75,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 1 x 1 m spacing under good management

Napier grass – (Common Napier)

(Pennisetum purpureum)

Dry Matter Yield: 20,000 – 40,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 0.75 x 1 m spacing under good management

Napier grass – (Clone -13)

(Pennisetum purpureum)

Fresh yield: 3-5 kg / Plant at 45d cutting interval and 1 x 1 m spacing under good management

Dry Matter Yield: 40,000 – 60,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 1 x 1 m spacing under good management.

Guinea Grass

(Ecotype – A)

(Panicum maximum)

Dry Matter Yield: 12,000 – 15,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 0.60 x 0.75 m spacing under good management

Dry Matter Yield: 10,000 – 12,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 0.60 x 0.75 m spacing under normal management

Dry Matter Yield: 8,000 – 10,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval under roadside and natural grassland conditions

Guinea Grass (Var. 435, Hamil, TD-58)

(Panicum maximum)

Dry Matter Yield: 15,000 – 20,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 0.5 x 1 m spacing under good management

Dry Matter Yield: 10,000 – 12,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 0.5 x 1 m spacing under normal management

Setaria (var. Kazungula)

(Setaria sphacelata)

Dry Matter Yield: 12,000 – 15,000 kg/ha/yr at 45d cutting interval and 0.5 x 0.75 m spacing under good management

Brachiaria spp.

Signal Grass -Brachiaria brizantha

Ruzi Grass - B. ruziziensis

Dry Matter Yield: 10,000 – 12,000 kg/ha/yr at 35d cutting interval, and under full sunlight and good management

Dry Matter Yield: 8,000 – 10,000 kg/ha/yr at 35d cutting interval, and under coconut and good management


(Pennisetum clandestinum)

Dry Matter Yield: 12,000 kg/ha/yr at 40 d cutting interval, and good management

Perennial Rye

(Lolium perenne)

Dry Matter Yield: 12,000 – 15,000 kg/ha/yr at 40d cutting interval and good management


(Gliricidia sepium)

Fresh Yield: 2-3 kg/plant/cut at 75 d intervals as 2 yr old hedgerows and 30 cm spacing


(Leucaena leucocephala)

Fresh Yield: 1.5-2 kg/plant/cut at 75 d intervals as 2 yr old hedgerows and 30 cm spacing

Sources: Various research publications in Sri Lanka

Figure 11. Kandyan Forest Garden System

Natural (wild) Guinea grass
Guinea grass (Panicum maximum Jacq.) was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 1820s for forage and has become naturalized in most ecological zones, ecosystems and habitats with the exception of hilly and semi-arid parts of the country. This is generally called “Wild Guinea Grass” and has become a valuable forage (Premaratne, 1993a; Premalal et al., 1990). Two main varieties are found: a coarse, broad leaved, hairy, stemmy, robust grass up to 3 metres high, known locally as Guinea-“A” and a finer, narrower leaved, leafy grass with smaller culms of 1-2 metres known as Guinea-“B”.

Naturally, it now overruns road and railway sides, natural forests, crop plantations, natural grasslands and scrubland at low and mid elevations. There are several Guinea grass dominant grasslands occurring in the low country dry zone areas. Forest Department statistics show that the vegetation under natural Guinea grass in Sri Lanka now covers approximately 35,000 hectares.

Figure 12. Wild Guinea grass along road sides

Natural grassland resources of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's grasslands have been categorized in many ways, based on their origin and evolution, geographical distribution and floristic composition. However, natural grasslands in Sri Lanka can be recognized as plant communities in which dominant species are perennial grasses with very few or no shrubs and trees (Moore, 1964). Stability of grasslands often depends on the direct or indirect influences of man (Moore, 1964). Pemadasa (1983) has carried out a comprehensive survey of natural grassland resources in the country and Table 5 lists the major and sub grassland types based on this survey.

Table 5. Grassland types of Sri Lanka

Main type

Main-sub type

Sub -type




Humid zone dry Patana

Summer zone dry Patana


Intermediate Patana


Lower wet Patana

Upper wet Patana



Upland savanna


Lowland savanna


Wet zone pastures

Inland grasslands

Maritime grasslands

Dry zone pastures

Damana grasslands

Thalawa grasslands

Villu grasslands

Tank bed grasslands

Intermediate zone pastures

Coconut grazing grounds

Arid zone pastures

Dry pastures

Humid pastures

Mixed pastures

Source: Extracted and arranged from Pemadasa (1983).

Sri Lankan grasslands are likely to play an economically vital role because they have a potential as feed for livestock. However, their exploitation has been rather unsystematic due to increasing biotic interference by haphazard clearing for short-term cultivation, illegal burning, and extensive removal of herbages for fodder and over-grazing. These activities have caused considerable floristic and habitat changes and severe erosion of many types of grassland with near complete destruction of some areas (Pemadasa, 1981). In terms of climatic and vegetation contrast, the grasslands of Sri Lanka can be divided into three general categories; Patana, Savanna and Lowland grasslands. Further, they are sub-divided into several forms. Important characteristics of some grassland types, which have a potential for livestock farming, are summarized in Tables 5 and 6.

Figure 13. Patana grasslands after burning
Figure 14. Cattle grazing on a natural dry zone pasture
[Click to view full images]

Table 6. Characteristics of Grassland types

Grassland type

Rainfall (annual), climatic zone and elevation

Distributional locations

Dominant forages *

Potential for livestock**

Important remarks

Dry Patana

•1 750-2 250 mm


•500-2 000 m

Uva Basin

Arundinella spp. Pollinia spp. Ischaemum spp. Themeda tremula. Andropogon spp.


The burning of grass just before the rain results in the soil being exposed and consequently eroding. This probably accounts for the absence of any trees.

Wet Patana

•2 500-4 000 mm

•upcountry wet

•>2000 m

Horton Plains,

Elk Plain,

Moon Plain,


Chrysopogon zeylanicum


Grasses are tufted, coarse and wiry. Scattered trees are prominent.

Lowland Savanna

•1 450-1 750 mm

•low country

•300-400 m

Bibile, Monaragala

Panicum spp.

Themeda tremula Desmodium spp.

Themeda triandra


The grass cover is much taller. Fire-tolerant species are rather sporadic.

Upland Savanna

•1 500 - 2 000 mm

•mid country wet

•400-500 m

Wellawaya Pethyagoda

Panicum spp.

Themeda tremula Heteropogon triticeus Desmodium spp.

Mimosa pudica


The grass cover is much taller. Soil is eroded and denuded as a result of frequent destruction of vegetation.


•1 500 – 2 000 mm

•low country dry

•0-200 m

Polonnaruwa Manampitiya Thamankaduwa Maduru Oya

Cynodon dactylon Stenotaphrum secundatum 

Bothriochloa glabra


Wet grasslands found in the flood plains of the rivers in the dry zone. Grasses are more succulent. Soil is rich in nutrients.


•1 250-1 750 mm

•low country dry

•0-100 m

Damana Ampara


Imperata cylindrica


Origin seems to be the result of forest clearing followed by repeated fire.


•2 000-2 500 mm

•low country wet

•0-200 m




Cynodon dactylon


Arise as a result of forest felling and chena cultivation in wet zone.

Source: Modified from Pemadasa, 1983
*Forages are tentatative and up-to-date studies are needed.
** Authors' observations

Figure 15. Savanna grassland
Figure 16. Dry season foraging
[Click to view full images]

Grassland productivity
The economic viability of grasslands as grazing grounds depends partly on their productivity and quality of constituent forage species (Pemadasa, 1990). Further, grassland productivity depends on many factors, including annual rainfall and its seasonal variations, soil fertility, species composition, stocking rates and, anthropogenic and other biotic pressures (Murphy, 1975). Although little is known of the productivity of the grasslands of Sri Lanka, the general view is that most are of low productivity. This is probably due to a deficiency of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (Pemadasa, 1981). The low density of legumes, loss of nutrients by leaching and erosion and, slow rate of microbial activity are some of the possible causes (Muller-Dombois and Perera, 1971). Amarasinghe and Pemadasa (1983) estimated the annual productivity of green forages of some dry Patana grasslands to be around 68,000 to 111,000 kg/ha, however, information on current studies under Sri Lankan conditions is lacking. These yields are less than those for similar Indian grasslands (according to Ambasht et al., 1972).

Traditional livestock production in natural grasslands
There was a strong tradition among the pastoralists based on natural grasslands. When considering the history of community oriented systems, the sustainable production pattern, protection of grassland resource and, protection and appreciation of wild life were positive key factors. These strong traditions gave environment stability to large parts of the country together with other agricultural practices. Traditionally different pastoral systems were found in various regions in the country.

Further, these livestock raisers were heirs to centuries of accumulated experience and skills for locally available resources of the grassland. Indigenous knowledge has been brought down from generation to generation and functioned as a part of the information base in the society. The pastoralists had a wide knowledge of the ecosystem in which they survive and ensured the use of natural resources in a sustainable manner (Naheesan, 2002). However, in the past, due to availability of land and free from various out side threats, farmers were able to have many more animals and therefore livestock farming was a first-class business.

Figure 17. Cattle grazing on tank bed grassland
Figure 18. Cattle under scrub jungle in the dry zone
[Click to view full images]

Present situation of grassland-based livestock production
With an increase of human population the traditional feeding, breeding and surviving habitats for livestock (and wildlife) have been acutely restricted due to large-scale development activities (e.g. irrigation schemes, agricultural settlements, urbanization etc.). Nowadays, farmers have developed a complex culture, including a wide variety of on- and off-farm activities to deal with an unfavourable economic and social environment (Zemmelink et al. 1999).

Available information on the socio-economic background of livestock farmers in grassland areas and their production systems, forages and botanical composition, and soil and animal status are limited. However, preliminary studies on farmers’ socio-economic background and production systems, investigations on available forage species and their botanical composition, and, some chemical properties of soils in selected grassland types and locations have been carried out recently by the authors. The main findings of these studies are summarized in Table 7.

Table 7. Some basic information on grassland based livestock production systems

Information category


Grassland types and locations studied

  • Dry Patana grasslands/Knuckles range
  • Tank bed grasslands/ Tabbowa and Inginimitiya
  • Lowland Savanna/ Bibile and Monaragala
  • Open grasslands/ Wasgomuwa

Forage resource

Grassland is the main forage.

  • high in seasonal variability
  • low in productivity
  • herds are moved on availability of forages


  • loss of animals due to drought and cattle raiding
  • threats from illegal cultivation and activities

Grazing management

Mostly free grazing, Animals are either not gathered at night or graze for 8-10 hrs from early morning to late afternoon and housed at night

Facilities and support needed

  • reliable markets
  • appropriate veterinary and extension facilities
  • government and other organizational supports
  • income diversification opportunities
  • water supply in dry season

Degree of crop-livestock intensification and diversification of income sources

  • very low; but increasing in some areas where cropping is possible

Livestock species

Mainly traditional breeds of cattle, buffaloes and goats

Livestock products

  • meat, milk and draught power
  • some hoofs and hides
  • collection of manure is rare
  • milk production ranges from 200-400 litres per lactation

Degree of economic stability

  • low; systems are predominantly lacking in inputs
  • With increasing population the systems tend to evolve into mixed systems

Environmental concerns

  • overgrazing, soil erosion, weed invasion and burning
  • adverse changes in floristic composition
  • competition with wildlife and recreation

Source: Information of preliminary studies carried out by authors (unpublished)

Preliminary investigations by the authors reveal that the so-called traditional pastoralism is no longer economically sound, basically due to land limitation and other unsettling reasons (Premalal and Premaratne, unpublished). This paper does not discuss the matters pertaining to number of classifications in livestock production systems previously made by a number of workers.

Issues and development programmes in grassland development
According to experiences in other countries, development and demonstration of a sustainable grassland management and livestock improvement strategy is not merely a technical matter. Further, it has very little to do with basic principles such as, stocking rates, grazing patterns and systems. Issues such as water, extension, education, and health are rated much higher in many instances. The capacity of local, community-based structures where they exist, to address their own problems in an organized manner was very limited. On the other hand most farm communities had a very clear picture of a prosperous future, but very few of them had the capacity to get their own, or had thought of soliciting the right support to get there (Reynolds et al., 1999). The authors of this paper have also noticed the same chain of issues as a core problem pertaining to development of local grasslands. However, many positive results are available in other instances with a clear mandate of developing and demonstrating grassland management for livestock production through a participatory and multi-disciplinary manner (Reynolds et al. 1999 and Miller, 2001).

The authors have observed that the current livestock management systems are incompatible with the area and, are not sustainable because of:

  • Rapidly growing population has failed to adjust the management system on which farmers and their livestock depend,
  • The lack of a land tenure system that permits free access to communal resources,
  • The absence of long-term development policies, plans and strategies for particular regions and communities,
  • Uncoordinated and poor governmental and institutional support,
  • Making livestock breeding policies particularly on the climatic zone, but not for a particular grassland community,
  • Inadequate information base and extension service, and inadequate marketing opportunities and support.

To face the ever more complex challenge to sustainable grassland resource management, the authors recognize the importance of fundamental social and socio-economic issues in the design and implementation of related interventions through participatory and multi-disciplinary approaches.


6. Opportunities for Improvements of Grassland Resources

Constraints identified in improvement of national grasslands
Management of grasslands for sustainable development remains a major challenge for researchers, policy makers and development agencies. The livestock sub-sector together with the larger agricultural sector now has considerable limitations which are listed below: climatic, biotic and edaphic factors are coupled with these limitations when development activities are implemented:

  • Inadequacy of grassland management policies coupled with other functional policies such as economic, socio-economic, land use and wildlife management
  • Inadequate funding and many other complex issues in the national research system
  • Difficulty in management of research due to dispersion of agricultural research under several ministries of the government
  • Poor infrastructure in many grassland associated areas. e.g. market outlets and veterinary facilities
  • Inherent low productivity of grasslands due to seasonal variation of rainfall, poor nutritional status of soils, weed invasion, unpalatability and low quality of forages
  • Lack of current research information on productivity, soil properties, existing forage species and their nutritional quality and, persistence of improved forage species under particular grassland ecosystem
  • Unavailability of functional sources of planting materials for improved forages for local conditions
  • Main focus of current livestock policy towards agroclimatic issues but not towards the actual background of the grassland ecosystem
  • Lack of collective agreement, poor-cooperation and disorganization of the pastoralists
  • Poor involvement of governmental and private organizations in participatory approach.

Opportunities and suggestions for developing grassland resources

Despite the constraints, every grassland-resourced country should develop this resource in a sustainable manner to reduce poverty and meet food needs.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of the Government of Sri Lanka has launched a revised Agriculture and Livestock Policy which generates a new approach to traditional livestock production. The ministry has started to allocate funds for communal grassland development activities. The research sector especially the state and universities have made efforts to identify the relevant institutional structure, present grassland resources and socio-economic background of the farmers involved in selected grassland ecosystems.

Milk marketing seems to be improving and consumption of liquid milk increasing gradually and farmers are now becoming interested in investing more money in dairying. Natural grasslands have to play a key role in providing feed for dairy stock.

The Council for Agricultural Research Policy (CARP) now provides funds for demand-driven research and development to ensure sustainability in the agriculture and livestock sector without irreversible degradation of environment resources. With this objective, the Government has also increased fund allocation to the CARP for implementing such research for reducing poverty and meeting the future food needs

The universities and state sector institutions have access to highly qualified, well-trained human resources with laboratory and field equipment and this is a big boost for grassland research activities in the country. A keen and enthusiastic group of researchers will be formed in the near future to implement the development of grassland resources.


There is a considerable “hidden harvest” from the grassland resources of Sri Lanka. Further, the grasslands are multifunctional with importance for livestock, wildlife use and other domestic uses, each of which generates marketed and non-marketed outputs. Researchers and policy makers should pay much more attention to extract these uses and outputs, integrating the fundamental, social and socio-economic issues into the design and implementation of development interventions through a multidisciplinary manner. The key policy question is how to increase total land productivity in a sustainable way while minimizing degradation. The following suggestions are made for a sustainable development of the grassland resources of the country:

  • Models together with agricultural and livestock must be developed as a base for communal grassland management
  • Research must continue and more case studies are required to deepen understanding of locally appropriate solutions
  • Logical statistical databanks must be compiled and revised for regular planning development activities
  • A strong extension service with effective veterinary background needs to be strengthened
  • Planning must take account of the potential effects of climatic changes, e.g. effect of drought on herbage productivity, and soil and water resources
  • A national level review and mapping of the status of present grassland cover of the country are urgently needed
  • Monitoring of various aspects of land deterioration is essential
  • Participation of pastoralists must be encouraged during development and implementation of strategies
  • Pastoralism in wildlife protected areas must be gradually proscribed and encouraged to develop communal grasslands in adjoining public localities.
  • Issues such as development of water resources, extension and education must be considered in addition to basic grassland principles.

  7. Research and Development Organizations and Personnel

Department of Animal Production and Health: A key department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. It is responsible for various development actions on livestock production and health including pasture/forage development.

Animal Science Departments of all major agricultural universities in the country: University of Peradeniya, University of Ruhuna, University of Jaffna, University of Sabaragomuwa and Eastern University. Responsible for academic and research activities on livestock management.

Veterinary Research Institute: This institute is under the Department of Animal Production and Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. The Pasture and Fodder Division of the institute has the mandate to carry out research on forage production, utilization and management, grassland development and conservation of forage germplasm.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya: Responsible for academic and research activities on livestock diseases and management.

National Livestock Development Board (NLDB): This belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and is responsible for management of the Ministry’s livestock farms.

Milk Industries of Lanka Company Limited (MILCO): belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and is responsible for forage development activities in the country.

Mahaweli Livestock Enterprise: managed by the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka and is for the management of livestock farms of the Mahaweli Authority.

Fodder Resources Centre, Kotadeniyawa: One of the regional centres of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. It is answerable for production of forage planting materials and distribution among the farmers throughout the country.


8. References

Amarasinghe, A. and M.A. Pemadasa.1983. The ecology of a montane grassland in Sri Lanka, VII, Biomass production, Ceylon Journal of Science. 16: 15-21.

Ambasht, R.S, Manuryan, A.N. and U.N. Singh. 1972. Primary production in certain protected grassland of Varanasi, India. pp 43-50. In: Golly, P. M. and Golly, F.B. (eds.) Tropical ecology with an emphasis on organic production, Athens.

Annual Report - 2004. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Chadhokar, P.A. 1980. Recommendations on tropical forage development. Report of the UNDP/FAO Tropical Pasture Development Project – Sri Lanka/IDA Dairy Development Project, Peradeniya. 33 pages.

Chadhokar, P.A. and A. Lecamwasam. 1982. Effect of feeding Gliricidia maculata to milking cows. A preliminary report. Tropical Grasslands, 16, 46-48.

Dissanayake, S. N. and U. P. D. S. Waidyanatha. 1987. The performance of some tropical forage grasses interplanted with young Hevea trees and their effect on growth of the rubber. Tropical Agriculture 64(2): 119-121.

Ibrahim, M.N.M. 2000. Dairy Cattle Production. Printing unit, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. (ISBN:955-97074-0-x.).

Ibrahim, M.N.M., Premaratne, S. and H.G.D. Perera. 1989. Ensiling characteristics and nutritive value of Guinea grass (Panicum maximum, Jacq) as affected by growth stage. Australasian Journal of Animal Science. 2 (2) : 123-128.

Ibrahim, M.N.M. and S. Premaratne. 1999. Nutrient Requirements of Buffaloes. Water Buffalo in Asia : 1. Nutrition of the Buffalo. M.N.M. Ibrahim, K.K. Pathirana and J.A. de S. Siriwardene. SAREC/NARESA Buffalo Information Dissemination Programme. Pp 49-68. ISBN 955-590-034-5.

Ibrahim, M.N.M., Staal, S. J., Daniel, S.L.A. and W. Thorpe. 1999. Appraisal of the Sri Lanka Dairy Sector. Volume 1, Main Report. Ministry of Livestock Development and Estate Infrastructure. 97p.

Jayasundara, H.P.S. and R. Marasinghe. 1989. A model for integration of pasture, tree fodder and cattle in coconut smallholdings. Coconut Bull. (Sri Lanka), 6 (2), 15-18.

Jayawardana, A.B.P. 1985. Pastures in Sri Lanka. In Proc. of International Sympos. on Pastures in the Tropics and Subtropics, 2-6 October 1984, Tsukuba, Japan. TARC Trop. Agric. Res. Series No. 18, 71-85.

Lane, I.R. 1981. The use of cultivated pastures for intensive animal production in developing countries. In: Intensive Animal Production in Developing Countries (ed. Smith, A.J. and Gunn, R.G.). Occas. Pub. No. 4, BSAP, 105-143.

Liyanage, L.V.K. 1986. Pasture Management and Animal Husbandry in Coconut Lands. Coconut Bulletin 3(1), 19–22.

Liyanage, L.V.K. 1989. Pasture and fodder production in Sri Lanka-present status and future trends. Paper presented at the Consultation Meeting on Tropical Pastures, Los Banos, Philippines. May 1989.

Liyanage, L.V.K. 1990. Techno-economic feasibility of pasture/fodder/tree/animal integration in coconut lands. In: Coconut Based Farming Systems (ed. Silva, de S.), Proc. of the XXVII COCOTECH Meeting, 25–29 June, 1990, Manila, Philippines, 103–113.

Liyanage, L.V.K. 1991. Forages for plantation crops in Sri Lanka. In: Forages for Plantation Crops (eds. Shelton and Stur). Proceedings of a Workshop, Sanur Beach, Bali, Indonesia, 27-29 June 1990, 157-161.

Liyanage, L.V.K. and H.P.S. Jayasundera. 1988. Gliricidia as a multipurpose tree for coconut plantations. Coconut Bull., Coc. Res. Inst., Sri Lanka Vol. 1, 1-4.

Liyanage, L.V.K., Jayasundera, H.P.S., Mathes, D.T. and D.N.S. Fernandos. 1989. Integration of pasture, fodder and cattle in coconut small holdings. Coconut Research and Development J., 5, 53-56.

Liyanage, M. de S. and K.K. Pathirana. 1992. Productivity and sustainability of the coconut/ cattle integrated system in the Wet Zone of Sri Lanka. Paper presented at the 2nd Asian Farming Systems Symposium, Colombo, Sri Lanka 2–5 November 1992.

Miller, D. 2001. Sustainable development of mountain rangelands in central Asia: 5235, Western Ave., NW, New Washington, DC 20015.

Moore, C.W.E. 1964. Distribution of grasslands. In: Barnard, C. (ed.) Grasses and grasslands, Macmillan, Melbourne, pp. 182-205.

Muller-Dombois, D. and M. Perera. 1971. Ecological differences and soil fungal distribution in the montane grassland of Ceylon. Ceylon Journal of Science. 9: 1-41.

Murphy, P.G. 1975. Net primary productivity in tropical terrestrial ecosystems: pp 217-131, In: Leith, H. and Wittaker, R.H. (ed.) Primary production of the biosphere, Springet, New York.

Naheesan, S. 2002. Role of Sri Lanka's diversity in traditional (organic) paddy and other field crop farming systems for promoting sustainable practices in Agriculture, IFOAM, Asia.

Panditharatne, S., Allen, V.G., Fontenot, J.P. and M.C.N. Jayasuriya. 1986a. Effect of stage of growth and chopping length on digestibility and palatability of Guinea “A” grass silage. J. of Animal Science, 66: 1005-1009. 

Panditharatne, S., Allen, V.G., Fontenot, J.P. and M.C.N. Jayasuriya. 1986b. Ensiling characteristics of tropical grasses as influenced by stage of growth, additives and chopping length. Journal of Animal Science. 66: 197 -207.

Pemadasa, M.A. 1981. The mineral nutrition of the vegetation of a montane grassland in Sri Lanka. J. Ecol. 69: 125-134.

Pemadasa, M.A. 1983. Grasslands. In: Fernando C.H. (ed.) Ecology and Biogeography in Sri Lanka. Junk Publishers. 99-131.

Pemadasa, M.A. 1990. Tropical grasslands of Sri Lanka and India. Journal of Biogeography. 17: 395-400.

Perera, A.N.F., Siriwardene, J. A. de S. and S. Premaratne. 1999. Fibrous Crop Residues as a Ruminant Feed. Cattle and Buffalo Farming, Handbook for Veterinarians. H. Abegunawardena and S. Siriwardene. SAREC/NSF (NARESA) Water Buffalo Research Development Programme. pp24-34. ISBN 955-590-025-6.

Premalal, G.G.C., Bandara, D.C. and S. Premaratne. 1990. Establishment and growth of legume pasture mixture in the Mid-country of Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Journal of Agricultural Science. 27: 90-97.

Premaratne, S. 1993a. Effect of frequency of cutting on yield and chemical composition of four tropical grasses. Journal of National Science Council of Sri Lanka. 21 (2):189-194.

Premaratne, S. 1993b. Role of tree fodders in livestock feeding. Proceedings, Fourth regional workshop on Multipurpose Tree Species in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka. 77-79.

Premaratne, S. 1996. Importance of fodder as a feed supplement for goats. Seventh National Workshop on Multipurpose Trees, National Research Network on Multipurpose Trees, Sri Lanka, 183-197.

Premaratne, S., 2000. Straw and fodder based supplementation for buffaloes, Proceedings of changing role of the buffaloes in the new millennium in Asia, National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka, 197-207.

Premaratne, S. and A. Sivaram. 1995. Development of systems of supplementary feeding for buffaloes in Sri Lanka. Proceedings of a Regional Symposium on Role of the Buffalo in Rural development in Asia. SAREC and NARESA, Sri Lanka, 219-225.

Premaratne, S., Ibrahim, M.N.M. and H.G.D. Perera. 1993. Effect of stage of growth and additives on digestibility and palatability of Guinea (Panicum maximum, Jacq) grass silage. Journal of National Science Council of Sri Lanka. 21 (2):175-182.

Premaratne, S. Ibrahim, M.N.M., Siriwardene, J.A. de S. and A.N.F. Perera. 1999. Utilization of Tree Fodder and Non-conventional Feed Resources. Cattle and Buffalo Farming, Handbook for Veterinarians. H. Abegunawardena and S. Siriwardene. SAREC/NSF (NARESA) Water Buffalo Research Development Programme. pp16- 23. ISBN 955-590-025-6

Premaratne, S., Premalal, G.G.C. & V.P. Jayawardena. 2003. Sustainable Management of Grassland Resources for Ruminant Livestock production in Sri Lanka. Tropical Agricultural Research & Extension 6; 60 – 65.

Premaratne, S., Van Bruchem, J. and H.G.D. Perera. 1997. Effect of type and level of foliage supplementation on voluntary intake and digestibility of rice straw in sheep. Australasian J. of An. Sci. 10 (2): 223-228.

Premaratne, S., Van Bruchem, J., Chen, X.B., Perera, H.G.D. and S.J. Oosting. 1998. Effect of type and level of forage supplementation on voluntary intake, digestion, rumen microbial protein synthesis and growth of sheep fed a basal diet of rice straw and cassava. Australasian J. of An. Sci. 11 (6): 692-696. 

Reynolds, S.G. 1995. Pasture-Cattle-Coconut Systems. RAPA Publication 1995/7. FAO, Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand. 668 p.

Reynolds, S., Batello, C. and S.T. Bass. 1999. Perspectives on rangeland development. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Proceedings of the VI International Rangeland Congress, 1999/1, Townsville. p. 160-165.

Samaraweera, E.S.D., Silva, L.P. and S. Premaratne. 2001. Effect of caged layer manure and molasses on ensiling characteristics and composition of Guinea (Panicum maximum, Jacq.) Ecotype 'A'. Trop. Agricultural Research, PGIA, Univ. of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. 13: 395 -400.

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Stewart, J.L., Dunsdon, A.J., Kass, M., Lopez Ortiz, S., Larbi, A., Premaratne, S., Tangendjaja, B., Wina, E. and J.E. Vargas. 1998. Genetic variation in the nutritive value of Gliricidia sepium. Animal Feed Sci. and Technology. 75: 111-124.

Westenbrink, G. 1986. Livestock and cash crops integration. In: Integrated Farming Systems (ed. Gunasena and Herath), National Agric. Soc. of Sri Lanka, University of Peradeniya, 1-20.

Zemmelink, G., Premaratne, S., Ibrahim, M.N.M. and P.H. Leegwater. 1999. Feeding of dairy cattle in the Forest-Garden farms of Kandy, Sri Lanka, Tropical Animal Health and Production, 31(5), 307-319.


9. Contacts

This profile was prepared by Prof. Sujatha Premaratne and Mr. G.G.C. Premalal.

Prof. Sujatha Premaratne
Professor in Animal Science,
Faculty of Agriculture,
University of Peradeniya,
Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
B.Sc. (Agric.) (Sri Lanka)
M.Sc. and PhD (Animal Science) (USA).
Tel: 94-0812-387179
Fax: 94-0812-203677

Mr. G.G.C. Premalal 
Senior Research Officer,
Head/ Division of Pasture and Fodder,
Veterinary Research Institute,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: 94-0812-388312
Fax: 94-0812-388125


[The profile was prepared by the authors in October 2005, edited by J.M. Suttie and S.G. Reynolds in November/December 2005 and some data slightly modified in November 2006].