Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s
economy, contributing over 25 percent of the gross domestic product as
well providing the livelihood of about 80 percent of the country’s population
and contributing 70 percent of national employment. Many of the poor are
smallholder farmers who live in areas of high potential for agriculture
and forest production (Smith & Orodho, 2000) with an annual
rainfall of more than 750mm, spreading from central Kenya
through the central Rift valley to Western Kenya and at the extreme east
the coastal strip. By far the greater part of Kenya
is outside the lands of high potential and is semi-arid to arid grazing
land: livestock and subsistence dairying are important in the semi-arid
areas but fodder is not cultivated there and the drylands are not discussed
in this paper. Kenya has the
most developed smallholder dairy system in sub-Saharan Africa with an
estimated dairy herd of 3 million head. Most dairy
cattle are crosses of Friesian-Holstein, Ayrshire and other exotic dairy
breeds with local zebu. Dairy is important in the livelihoods of many
farm households in terms of generating income and employment. Smallholder
dairies (mainly family farms of less than 10 hectares and fewer than 10
dairy animals - Anon., 1985, 1987) are concentrated in the crop-dairy
systems of the high potential areas, producing about 60 percent of the
milk and contributing over 80 percent of the marketed output (Peeler &
Omore, 1997; Thorpe et al., 2000). The system is characterized
by small crop-livestock farms. An important feature of the system is that
milk is a cash crop and the manure produced is used to fertilize food
and cash crops which include coffee, tea, sugarcane, wheat, vegetables,
pyrethrum, bananas, cut flowers and other horticultural crops. The main
food crop is maize but others include, sorghum, millet, beans, sweet and
Irish potatoes and vegetables.
Smallholder dairying has increased in recent years because
of liberalization in the dairy sub-sector and because low cash crop prices
have made dairying an important income earner. However, development of
smallholder dairy systems in Kenya’s
high potential areas has been marked by declining farm sizes, upgrading
to dairy breeds and an increasing reliance on purchased feeds both concentrates
and forages (Staal et al., 1998, 1999). The major cattle feeds
are natural grass and planted fodder, mainly Napier grass (Pennisetum
purpureum). With the increasing human population, available grazing
is decreasing and planted areas of Napier grass are becoming the main
fodder source (Potter, 1987; Orodho, 1990).
Other feeds, which depend on season and region for availability
and which are used in smaller quantities include maize crop residues,
compound feeds, milling by-products, sugarcane tops, banana pseudostems,
as well as other grasses and weeds. Where farms are small, cattle are
confined and fed by cut-and-carry, also referred to as zero-grazing (Baltenweck
et al., 1998; Staal et al., 1999). Nutrient cycling through
dairy animals and use of manure are key driving forces to dairy adoption
and to sustaining smallholdings. The major constraining factors are: lack
of adequate and quality feeds particularly in the dry season, animal genetics
and disease challenges on livestock and on Napier grass which is the major
livestock feed. Emerging diseases, mainly fungal, viral or mycoplasmal
are affecting many Napier grass varieties. In fact so great is the threat
that loss of Napier grass feed could lead to the collapse of the smallholder
IMPORTANCE OF NAPIER GRASS
The importance of Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) can be seen
from the role it plays as the major livestock feed in smallholder dairy
production systems in Kenya.
Because of high population pressure farms are small, with an average holding
size of 0.9-2.0 ha (Gitau et al., 1994); sizes are still decreasing.
Animals are therefore confined in stalls and fed mainly on Napier grass
under zero grazing. In central Kenya
over 80 percent of dairy animals are kept under zero grazing (Staal et
al., 1998) and Napier grass is the main fodder grown by over 70 percent
of smallholder farmers in the region and normally provides over 40 percent
of feed (Stots, 1983; Potter, 1987; Bayer, 1990 and Staal et al.,
1998). Napier grass has been the most promising and high yielding fodder
(Anindo & Potter 1994) giving dry matter yields that surpass most
tropical grasses (Humphreys, 1994; Skerman & Riveros, 1990). Reported
on-farm dry matter yields from different regions of the country averaged
about 16 tonnes/ha/year (Wouters, 1987) with little or no fertilizer,
while according to Schreuder et al. (1993) yields on research stations
vary between 10-40 tonnes dry matter per hectare depending on soil fertility,
climate and management factors. These yields surpass those of Rhodes grass
(Chloris gayana) Setaria (Setaria sphacelata) and Kikuyu
grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) which are popular pasture grasses
but which yield between 5 to 15 tonnes of DM per year (Boonman, 1993).
High DM yields for Napier grass have been recorded elsewhere in the tropics
(Ferraris & Sinclair, 1980: Woodard & Prine, 1991); exceptionally
high yields up to 85 tonnes DM/ha have been cited when high rates of fertilizers
were applied (Skerman & Riveros, 1990), for example under natural
rainfall of 2000 mm per year where 897 kg of N fertilizer were applied
per hectare per year and the grass was cut every 90 days the yield was
84, 800 kg DM/year (Vicente-Chandler et al., 1959). Dry matter
yield alone, however, is of limited value if it is not closely related
to the DM intake of the animals. At farm level, the combination of DM
yield and observed DM intake can form the basis for estimating the number
of livestock that can be supported by available forage. As Napier grass
tolerates frequent defoliation, under good weather conditions it can be
cut in Kenya every 6-8 weeks
giving up to 8 cuts in a year, depending on fertilizer application, rainfall
amount and distribution.
It is the main fodder crop in Central Kenya, and is fed
to livestock by cut-and-carry; by 1983 approximately 240,000 ha or 4 percent
of the arable land of Kenya was under Napier grass. More was planted as
coffee prices fell and farmers took up dairying. About 90 percent of farmers
in Central Kenya grow Napier grass and the proportion may be higher now.
In spite of the potential for high yields, actual yields are often much
lower and variable and have been measured from 2.2 to 26 tonnes DM/ha/year
on farms. This wide range in production is mainly caused by management
factors such as the application of manure and/or fertilizer, cutting frequency,
weed control, etc.
Napier grass can grow in mixture with legumes. Although
in Kenya it is generally grown
and managed as a pure stand, it can grow as an intercrop within the same
row or within alternate rows with legumes such as Pueraria phaseoloides,
Centrosema pubescens, Neonotonia wightii, Desmodium uncinatum,
Desmodium intortum and Stylosanthes guianensis. When intercropped
with herbaceous legumes, cutting or grazing management is adjusted to
favour the legumes in order to maintain a satisfactory mixed sward. Napier
grass can also be grown as an alley crop with fodder legumes such as leucaena,
(Leucaena leucocephala), calliandra (Calliandra calothyrsus)
sesbania (Sesbania sesban) and gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium).
Legumes improve the quality of Napier grass-based feed and also increase
the overall yield. Although no longer generally practiced in Kenya,
Napier grass can withstand heavy grazing and provide a considerable bulk
of feed to livestock, especially if well fertilized and irrigated (Harrison
& Snook, 1971) and rotational grazing should not be severe enough
to hinder growth (Ware-Austin, 1963). Hay and silage can be made for dry
season use. It makes good hay if cut when young but is too coarse if cut
late. It is more usually made into silage of high quality without additives.
In Taiwan Napier grass is widely used for the production of dehydrated
grass pellets used as supplementary stock feed.
ORIGIN AND CHARACTERISTICS OF NAPIER GRASS
Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum
Schumach.) (see images)
is also known as “elephant grass”. It was named after colonel Napier of
Bulawayo in Zimbabwe who early
in the last century urged Rhodesia’s
(now Zimbabwe) Department of
Agriculture to explore the possibility of using it for commercial livestock
production (Boonman, 1993). Napier grass used to be promoted in Uganda
for soil conservation and for mulching coffee. According to Acland (1971)
it turned out that very few smallholders mulched their coffee and found
it more profitable to sell Napier grass to coffee estates or feed the
grass to their livestock. The grass was then promoted as a livestock feed.
In recent years the dwarf “Mott” Napier cultivar has been bred in Gainesville
(Florida, USA) with a maximum height of about 1.5m (Hanna & Monson,1988)
and unlike the tall variety, is leafy and non-flowering. Tall varieties
(see Figure 1b) resemble sugarcane in habit. Napier grass is propagated
vegetatively because seeds have low genetic stability and viability (Humphreys,
1994). Napier grass which is a robust perennial forage with vigorous root
system, sometimes stoloniferous with a creeping rhizome is native to eastern
and central Africa and has been introduced to most tropical and sub-tropical
countries. Its natural habitat is damp grassland, forest margins and riverbeds.
Mature plants normally reach up to 4m in height and have up to 20 nodes
(Henderson & Preston, 1977). Boonman (1997) found it growing to a
height of 10m in riverbeds and recorded a harvest at Kitale of 29 tonnes/ha
DM taken in one cut on a very mature stand (more than 2 years overdue).
On the tableland at Walkamin Research Station in Queensland Australia,
the author observed Napier grass which had grown to a height of over 10m
(Figure 1a). [For a detailed description of Pennisetum purpureum,
its uses, ecology, yields etc. see]
Figure 1a. Tall Napier grass (over
4m) growing at Walkamin Research Station, DPI, Queensland Australia,
during a visit by the author.
Figure 2. Promising tall Kenyan Napier
grass varieties being evaluated by the author at KARI’s Regional
Research Centre Kakamega.
CLIMATE AND SOIL REQUIREMENTS
For optimal growth, Napier grass requires high and well-distributed rainfall
(more than 1000 mm per annum) although it can tolerate a moderate dry
season (3-4 months) because of its deep root system. At higher altitudes
(above 2100 m), growth is slowed by lower temperatures; optimal temperatures
for growth are in the range 25 to 40o C with high rainfall
(Russell & Webb, 1976). It ceases to grow when temperatures fall below
10oC (Bogdan, 1977) and the tall varieties cannot withstand
frost, in contrast to the dwarf type which is frost tolerant (Legal, 1990).
However, even though the herbage may be killed by frost, the underground
parts remain alive as long as the soil is not frozen. Napier grass can
grow in a wide range of soils, performing best in fertile and well drained
soils, but cannot tolerate flooding or waterlogging (Bogdan,1977). It
establishes well in clay or sandy loam and deep, fertile loam soils produce
best growth and yields (Skerman & Riveros, 1990).
NAPIER GRASS VARIETIES, GENETICS AND BREEDING
Napier grass (2n = 28) is a robust perennial bunchgrass which can
form dense clumps; has large flat leaves that may be 30-90 cm long and
up to 3 cm broad. It is a shy breeding grass and seed yields are usually
very low - rarely more than 1-2 kg/ha Pure Germinating Seed (PGS) – therefore
it is usually established vegetatively from stem cuttings or crown divisions.
There are 3,091,410 seeds/kg. It is highly heterozygous giving rise to
a very heterogeneous population of seedlings, which are not “true to type”.
Because the seed has low genetic stability and viability (Humphreys, 1994)
research efforts to develop seed were shelved (van Gastel, 1978) and seed
is usually not available to farmers. However, seedling progenies offer
opportunities for selection and this is how many of the famous Napier
grass varieties have emerged. Uganda
hairless was developed in Uganda
by A.S. Thomas (Tiley, 1959). Cameroon and Gold Coast varieties were developed
in South Africa from the seed of West African origin (Kennan 1952), Clone
13 developed from French Cameroon (Wijk,1977); Kakamega 1 and Kakamega
2 were developed from ILRIS accessions No. 16791 and 16 respectively that
were improved by the author from ILR1 accession/variety 16791 that had
originated from Southern Africa. Napier grass can form a hybrid with bulrush
millet (Pennisetum purpureum (2n=28) x P. americanum(2n=14).
Bana grass was formerly thought to be a hybrid with (2n=21) but it was
later confirmed that it is just a Napier grass cultivar since it has 2n
=28. A Pakistani Napier hybrid, sometimes called bajra Napier hybrid is
a cross between Napier grass and bulrush millet. A dwarf Napier grass
variety ‘Mott’ was bred at a research station in Gainesville, Florida
(Hanna & Monson, 1988). In Kenya
breeding of Napier grass was prompted by the rapid spread of diseases
among the few productive Napier cultivars available to farmers and by
the complaints about the hairiness and sharp leaf edges which easily pierce
or cut human skin and makes handling of Napier grass unpleasant in cut-and-carry
systems. Some Napier grasses with stem nodes and leaf sheaths covered
with stiff easily breaking hairs or bristles are avoided, especially by
calves because of eye damage inflicted by the hairs. In Kenya
several Napier grass varieties have been collected locally, introduced
from other African countries or improved through selection. Varieties
have been screened for high dry matter yield, smooth leaves and resistance
to diseases. During the selection process varieties were selected that
differed in characteristics such as the number of tillers, plant geometry,
plant height, hairiness of leaf and stem, flowering and resistance to
Confusion of varietal names is common because no certification
system is operational and varieties are hard to recognize especially when
plants are young. Several varieties have been in circulation under more
than one name even in official demonstration and testing plots unnoticed
by those responsible. A key to identification is long overdue. In Kenya
many varieties of Napier grass have been collected locally, introduced
from other African countries or developed through improvement and selection
breeding programmes. The author has assembled over fifty different Napier
grass cultivars which are being evaluated and characterized morphologically
and agronomically at various agro-ecological zones in Kenya
with the intention of developing a key for identifying the various Napier
grass varieties using morphological and agronomic characters (see Figure
Figure 3. Napier grass varieties undergoing
morphological and agronomic characterization. Note the variability
in the heights of the varieties.
As indicated above varieties include collections from
different parts of Kenya, Bana grass, French Cameroon, Clone 13, Uganda
hairless, Pakistani Napier hybrid, Gold Coast, at least one variety that
originated from Congo, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania, and some
cultivars that were introduced from the International Livestock Research
Institute’s (ILRI) Napier germplasm collection in Ethiopia through Forage
Networks. Bogdan (1977) mentions Capricorn, Cubano, Domira, Ghana,
Gold Coast, Merker, Merkeron, Mineiro, Napier, Pungwe, Uganda,
and Urukwanu as noteworthy cultivars.
Farmers need meaningful advice on Napier grass cultivars
and a practical field key would be useful for their identification. Morphological
and agronomic characteristics cannot be used to distinguish all the accessions,
whereas molecular markers have the potential to distinguish between closely
related individuals. Studies have shown that molecular markers generated
by polymeraze chain reaction (PCR) of randomly amplified DNA (RAPDS) have
been extremely useful in differentiating different accessions of Napier
grass. In a KARI/DFID/ILRI collaborative trial involving eleven Napier
grass accessions using RAPDs, it was found that there was enough genetic
variation between the 11 cultivars to allow successful separation of all
cultivars using RAPDs. The distinct variability has led to the identification
of specific markers for potential varieties. Results of this trial confirm
that Kakamega 1 which was developed by the author from ILRI material 16791
that had originated from South Africa
was different from its parent material 16791 for the two did not cluster
together (Jamnadass, 1999). This study also showed that the head smut
resistant Kakamega 1 and the head smut susceptible clone 13 clustered
separately indicating that they are genotypically different. Since clone
13 is resistant to snow mould fungus Beniowskia sphaeroidea but
susceptible to another fungal disease, Ustilago kamerunensis causing
Napier head smut, resistance to each disease is specific. This implies
that a Napier grass cultivar resistant to one disease may not necessarily
be resistant to another disease even of the same genus.
PESTS AND DISEASES OF NAPIER GRASS
(a) Snow mould fungal disease
In the past Napier grass exhibited few disease and pest incidences of
economic importance and therefore few studies addressed pests and diseases.
However in the early 1970s a fungus causing white mould attacked the leaves
and stems of most Napier grass varieties. The fungus Beniowskia sphaeroidea
mildew Beniowskia sphaeroidea (Kalchbr. Cke.) Mason] is a disease
of bulrush millet too; it used only to appear at the height of the rains
and did little damage for at that season there is plenty of feed and conditions
preclude haymaking. Studies in early 1970 focused on developing a variety
resistant to the attack. Clone 13 developed from French Cameroon was identified
as resistant to the snow mould fungal diseases and it was recommended
to be grown by farmers whose Napier have been infected with the fungal
disease. Fortunately, although the mould affects most other Napier varieties,
it does not affect the vigour of the plants and feeding livestock on the
diseased leaves has no adverse effect.
Figure 4. [Left] Snow mould
fungal disease Beniowskia sphaeroidea; [Right]
Napier grass rust
(b) Napier grass head smut in central Kenya
This was first reported in an unpublished paper by Kung’u and Waller in
1992 in Lari Division of Kiambu District. The causal organism of head
smut was identified as Ustilago kamerunensis (see New
Agriculturalist and paper by Farrell
et al. 1998 and Farrell, 1998) and samples sent
to the International Microbiological Institute confirmed the identification.
It was thought to be a systemic smut, hence the precocious flowering of
the infected Napier grass. The disease changes the morphology of the plant
and is characterized by smutted heads. The infected stems harden and shoot
to premature flowering, becoming thin and fibrous rather than normal thick
and juicy. Emerging plant stems then become smaller and the total dry
matter of the affected crop is drastically reduced (Figure 5a). After
2-3 cuttings, the entire stool dries. The result is a catastrophic decline
in biomass which leads to falling milk production. Some farmers have to
sell their dairy cows while others have to graze their dairy cattle on
sparse communal pastures along the road side, a practice that exposes
them to increased risks from East Coast Fever.
By 1994, the disease was present in Lari, Githunguri,
Kikuyu, Gatundu, Kangema and Kandara divisions. Consultations with scientists
at the regional Research Center, Embu, revealed that the problem was present
in Nyeri and Kirinyaga, but not in Embu District. It has also been observed
in Molo and Londiani, indicating the widespread nature of the problem
which is possibly exacerbated by movement of planting material. It now
poses a serious threat to the dairy industry in Kiambu, Murang’a and Nyeri
districts. There is a possibility that movement of manure could also spread
the disease, as well as wind. Environmental factors, such as temperature,
decline in soil fertility and acidity, altitude and rainfall could be
predisposing factors resulting in the current increased occurrence, or
a more virulent race of the pathogen could have caused the explosion.
There is need to investigate whether there are any side effects of feeding
smutted heads to the animal apart from the fact that disease could be
passed on through manure. Improving soil fertility has beneficial effects
but does not eliminate the disease. Cutting frequency could have some
effect since it is likely that, as with the head smut of sugarcane, infection
is at the tiller bud stage. The effects of crop rotation need to be investigated.
Farmers uproot diseased plants (Figure 5b) but the disease continues
to spread because it is often present in plants not yet showing any symptoms.
Figure 5a. Napier grass head smut
Figure 5b. Farmer uprooting diseased Napier
KARI undertook research to identify Napier grass varieties
resistant to the disease. A Napier variety known as Kakamega 1, developed
by the author, was identified as both high yielding and resistant to head
smut. The favourable results obtained in the laboratory were confirmed
in farmer’s fields. Once word spread other farmers immediately wanted
planting material of the new resistant variety; for example, Peter Ndung’u
and his fellow farmers from Gatundu division hired a truck and travelled
over 100 km to collect Kakamega 1 planting material from the KARI centre
at Muguga. Work began immediately to multiply planting material in government
institutions and cuttings were distributed to over 10 000 smallholder
farmers within the first year. Now, farmers with Napier grass affected
by head smut are advised to uproot the diseased Napier grass (Figure
5b) and plant the resistant Kakamega 1 variety.
EXPERIENCE WITH THE DISEASE IN CENTRAL KENYA
[Click here to read farmers views]
(c) Napier grass stunting disease
in Western Kenya
Another serious Napier grass disease which has developed in Western Kenya
was first reported in Bungoma district bordering Uganda
in 1997. Literature shows that a similar stunting disease had been reported
and the cause of the
disease was suspected to be a virus transmitted by insects (Tiley, 1969).
It has spread quickly and now covers several districts of Western Kenya
causing serious economic loss in the smallholder dairy industry. Most
of the Napier grass varieties grown in the area are susceptible to the
disease which usually becomes visible in re-growth after cutting or grazing.
Affected shoots become pale yellow green in colour and seriously dwarfed.
Often the whole stool is affected with complete loss in yield and eventual
death. Many smallholders have lost up to 100 percent of their Napier crop
and are forced to de-stock or sell off their entire herd because of lack
of feed (Figure 6
|Figure 6a-c. Napier grass stunting disease on smallholder
farms in Western Region
a) Mrs Jane Ngugi who is a District Agricultural
Livestock Extension Officer shows her Napier grass field heavily
attacked by stunting disease in Kanduyi Division, Bungoma District.
b) The farm manager of Busia Farmers’ Training
Centre with the author in his Napier grass field heavily affected
by the stunting disease.
c) Mr and Mrs Makokha and family in Harambee
Division of Butere/Mumias District in their Napier fields heavily
affected by grass stunting disease.
Urgent action is needed to identify the cause of the
disease and find possible solutions, otherwise it will have a devastating
impact on the smallholder dairy industry in Eastern Africa.
The author is collaborating with scientists from KARI
and International Research Institutes in studies to learn more about Napier
stunting, its cause and mode of transmission. Tests, both at the KARI
and CABI laboratories have confirmed that it is caused by a mycoplasma.
DNA analysis showed that diseased samples of yellowed leaves from plants
with stunted growth were negative for plant viruses but phytoplasma positive.
Refracted fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of amplimers showed
a similar pattern for all samples analyzed. Blast analysis showed the
phytoplasma to be members of 16SrX1 (Rice yellow dwarf group). Further
tests are being carried out to confirm whether the disease is transmitted
by insects. Suspected insects have been collected from diseased grass.
Scientists are also screening germplasm from over 50 Napier accessions
to identify any resistant varieties.
Some farmers suspect that the disease is mechanically
spread through harvesting implements, observing that the disease does
not spread until after the first cutting. The disease is much more severe
and prevalent in poorly managed fields and farmers have noted that in
well-weeded and heavily manured fields, disease severity is reduced. However,
weeding and heavy fertilization are only temporary measures for reducing
the disease level and a more permanent solution such as resistant varieties
is needed. Contrary to farmer opinion that nematodes affecting bananas
(especially in Bungoma where the disease was first reported) could be
transmitting agents, no nematodes were found on affected plant samples
analyzed at the Kenya National Agricultural Research Laboratories in Nairobi.
Insects were thought to be the transmitting agents of this disease as
the pattern of spread in one field is not regular, as would be expected
if the disease was being transmitted mechanically through harvest implements.
Insects, mainly thrips, aphids and leafhopper are found feeding on the
whorls (hearts) of young affected plants collected and analyzed at the
Entomology Laboratories and thrips have been most suspect because they
were common in all areas/samples collected. Napier grass is normally propagated
vegetatively and many farmers transfer planting material from one part
of a farm to the other or from farmer to farmer, therefore germplasm transfer
through planting material is suspected to be the fastest way the disease
could be spreading from one region to another and even across borders.
Orodho & Ajanga (2002) gave a detailed way forward
on research needed to be done to solve this disease problem, which include:
- Establish the mode of transmission and spread of the disease including
both mechanical / injury to plants using insect vector screening and
crushing both the affected plants and the insects feeding on them
and comparing their DNA.
- Identify useful insects (natural enemies) to enable development
of integrated methods of control.
- Search for resistance and development of Napier grass varieties
that are resistant to the diseases by continuing the work started
by the author in screening local and introduced Napier grass varieties
and develop a resistant variety for farmers in Western Kenya, where
the disease is prevalent.
- Survey of other possible alternative plants commonly found in the
region affected by the disease; plants including sugarcane, upland
rice, bananas and groundnuts (peanuts).
KARI and the Global Plant Clinic recently reported on
a short “Going Public” campaign in western Kenya
to raise awareness of the problem of Napier Grass Stunt which requires
follow up in the form of a sustained and long term programme of extension
and research to combat this threat to dairy farmers in East Africa [material
used with permission of Prof. Phil Jones, Global Plant Clinic].
[Click to access the file]
IMPROVED TECHNOLOGIES FOR NAPIER PRODUCTION
(a) Napier grass establishment
Conventionally Napier grass is established in well-prepared land (ploughed
and harrowed) from root splits, canes with 3 nodes or from whole canes.
The material is planted 15-20 cm deep with splits planted upright, three
node canes planted at an angle of 30-45o while whole canes
are buried in the furrow 60-90 cm apart. The root splits and canes are
usually spaced 50 - 60 cm x 50- 60 cm , 50-60cm x 90-100 cm or 90-100
cm x 90-100cm depending on the soil moisture of the area; usually the
higher the rainfall the closer the spacing. Root splits generally take
more labour (Suttie, 1965) to prepare (uproot) and to plant but result
in quicker establishment and earlier and higher forage yields. Once the
crop is well-established the original planting material type generally
has little effect on dry matter yield although some varieties such as
French Cameroon may establish best from canes (NARS, 1979). Whether root
splits or canes are used, they should be sufficiently mature to tiller
well and produce tall and high yielding forage plants; canes should be
from plants 20-28 weeks old. Napier grass can also be established by the
“Tumbukiza” method (Figure 7)
where the planting is done in round or rectangular pits 60-90 cm wide
and 60-90 cm deep, filled with a mixture of topsoil and manure in the
ratio of 1:2.
Figure 7a Napier grass planted using
|Figure 7b Napier grass planted using the “Tumbukiza” method.
The Tumbukiza method conserves soil moisture in the pits
for longer periods and concentrates fertility at a point of easy use by
the Napier grass thus resulting in higher forage production per unit area
of the land, even in areas of low rainfall.
(b) Cropping system
Napier grass is usually planted as a sole crop; however, it can also be
under sown with other crops such as maize (Wanjala et al., 1983)
or intercropped with forage legumes (Kusewa et al., 1980). [Figure
8] When inter-planted with maize, it is planted 12 weeks after sowing
maize at a spacing of 75 x 30 cm, as this has been shown to give the best
maize yield. However, if the main crop is Napier grass, delayed planting
reduces its yield. When Napier grass and maize are planted at the same
time, Napier grass yield is increased, without necessarily reducing maize
yields. Experience shows that both Napier grass and maize compete for
nutrients and it is only under high nutrient management systems that Napier
grass and maize can be successfully grown on the same plots. Herbaceous
legumes can give high yield when intercropped with Napier grass; those
that are compatible and give high yields include: giant vetch (Vicia
dasycarpa) at higher elevations; silverleaf desmodium (Desmodium
uncinatum), greenleaf desmodium (D. intortum), stylo (Stylosanthes
guianensis) and glycine (Neonotonia wightii) in high and medium
altitudes; and Archer axillaris (Macrotyloma axillare), centro
(Centrosema pubescens), siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum),
butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea), lablab (Dolichos lablab)
and stylo in the coastal region. Generally planting Napier grass with
herbaceous legumes increases the dry matter yield and crude protein of
the forage. The combined dry matter yield is greater than the yield of
Napier grass alone. Initial legume establishment is slow with faster growth
later, however, Mwangi & Wambugu (2001) reported poor persistence
of legumes such as Desmodium intortum because insufficient
attention was given to the legume when planning row spacing, planting
Figure 8a. Napier grass intercropped
8b. Napier grass intercropped with
herbaceous forage and fodder legumes
Fodder trees and shrubs provide useful cattle feed for
they remain green and of high quality for most of the dry season, producing
ample green matter at a time when there is little available and they re-grow
at a fast rate complementing Napier grass forage in a cut-and-carry system.
The most useful are those which improve soil fertility by nitrogen fixation,
provide high quality mulch and soil erosion control and which do not compete
for nutrients and soil moisture with the adjacent Napier grass on the
contours, mainly due to their deeper root system. In addition, some fodder
trees and shrubs may provide poles and fuel wood. Fodder shrubs can be
successfully grown in mixtures with Napier grass with the fodder trees/shrubs
in hedges and the Napier grass planted in alleys between them. Napier
grass in the alleys can be intercropped with herbaceous legumes such as
desmodium or butterfly pea. Those that have shown promise include: leucaena
(Leucaena leucocephala), calliandra (Calliandra calothyrsus),
sesbania (Sesbania sesban) and gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium).
In Kenya, Napier grass has not
been found to be suitable for grazing because the preferred varieties
show poor persistence under grazing. Also, most dairy farmers in Kenya
are smallholders with very small plots of land, which only favour zero
grazing. Thus there is little reported work of animal performance on grazed
Napier grass. Although the dwarf Napier grass especially bred for grazing
purposes (Sollenberger & Jones, 1989; Ruiz et al., 1992) has
been impressive in south-eastern U.S.A, it has not been adopted by dairy
farmers in Kenya due to its relatively
low DM yield (Sotomayor et al., 1997) and high susceptibility to
snow mould fugal disease Beniowskia sphaeroidea under Kenyan condition
(Boonman, 1997). In Brazil, the
author noted that the Napier grass variety used there performed well under
specific grazing management, but smallholders in Kenya
prefer giant Napier grass suitable for cut-and-carry.
(c) Fertilizer requirement
Because of its rapid growth and high yields Napier grass requires regular
application of nitrogen (N) phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the form
of fertilizers or farm yard manure (FYM). High yields of Napier are obtained/maintained
with the following rates of application:
- 20 kg/ha/year of P in the form of either single or triple
superphosphates (SSP or TSP) at a rate of 100 kg/ha applied twice
a year as a ring application around the stools at the beginning of
the long and short rainy season on weeded plots.
- 75 kg/ha/ of N usually in the form of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate
(CAN) at a rate of 300 kg/ha to be applied in splits after every grass
harvest (except the harvest taken during the dry season, because of
low soil moisture) or in three equal doses in a year, during the long
rains and short rains.
- 25 kg/ha/year of K usually in the form of
Muriate of Potash at a rate of 40 kg/ha/year, to be applied
in the same way as phosphate.
- Dairy cattle slurry: this is a mixture of cow dung, urine, and
feed left over, available from the zero-grazing stable. The rate of
application is 5.5 tons of DM/ha/year or 55 tons of liquid slurry.
This should be buried between Napier grass rows to avoid loss of nitrogen
by volatilization. The slurry is applied after the onset of long and
short rainy seasons.
- Leaving crop residues, feed refusals, mulching, old Napier grass
leaves, stalks and other weed trash in the field to cover the soil.
An even layer of mulch should be applied between grass rows, ideally
after every harvest. The advantages of mulching are: to help conserve
moisture and nutrients in the soil, to suppress weed growth and to
maintain the soil temperatures for optimal microbial activity.
Phosphorus is required at the time of planting to enable
Napier grass to develop a strong root system. Later it requires nitrogen
for photosynthesis. Application of N, P and FYM increase DM production
but the response may depend on environmental conditions during application
and on the soil nutrient status; response may be poor at very dry sites
and pronounced when the soil nutrient status is low. The most reliable
indicator of fertilizer requirement is through on-site testing: in most
Kenyan studies the response to P was more pronounced than to N and in
many cases the P&N interaction was significant. N&P responses
were found to be greater in ratoons. Old Napier stands generally respond
faster to NPK than to FYM. The response of Napier to slurry is better
when the slurry is poured into furrows and covered with soil rather than
surface application (Snijders et al., 1992). Fertilizer requirement
may also depend on the feeding system: where Napier grass is cut, carried
and fed away from the fields, NPK and Mg application may be required,
whereas if grazed then normally only N and P are needed.
Napier grass is a heavy feeder and reduces soil nitrate,
K, Ca and Mg status through nutrient uptake. The elements may be returned
to the soil and taken up by other crops when Napier grass is used as a
mulch. Napier grass is a luxury consumer of K, far above animal requirement
(0.44%) and well above the critical level (1- 1.5%).
Table 1. Concentration (%) and removal of minerals
in 12.5 tonnes/ha/year of Napier grass
| kg removed
| Animal need*
| 375 (450kgK2O)
* in edible DM for dairy animals; Source: Boonman (1997)
The improvement of soil fertility as a result of intercropping
Napier grass with legumes has been shown in many studies (NARS, 1979b).
The best Napier grass-legume intercrop combinations are: Napier grass
/Stylosanthes guianensis which produced the equivalent of 400 kg/ha/year
of N (NARS, 1979b; Kusewa, 1979) and Napier/Desmodium which produced an
equivalent of 465 kg/ha/year of N. It can also be used as a fallow to
improve soil structure and fertility in general.
(d) Harvesting regime
The first harvest of Napier grass should be when it attains a height of
1-1.2 meters, which is usually three to four months after planting. At
this stage Napier grass has high quality and sufficient dry matter. Thereafter
the grass should be harvested at intervals of six to eight weeks, when
it attains the same height. To some extent this will depend on the Napier
grass variety and its ability to grow, weather conditions, soil fertility,
management practices and livestock needs. If well managed it can be harvested
every month in hot and wet environments like those at the coast while
during the dry season it may be harvested after 2 months. Although harvesting
at longer intervals produces higher dry matter yields and increased crude
fibre, the crude proteins, digestibility, leaf-to stem ratios and ash
contents will decline. During harvest a stump (stubble height) of 10 -
15cm is left; this height influences yield quality and life span of the
grass. Herbage yields from Napier grass cut too low or too high leaving
no stubble or very long stubble tend to decrease over time and the persistence
of the stand is also greatly reduced as this interferes with the growing
points and weakens the rooting systems resulting in lower production in
subsequent harvests. Leaving appropriate stubble height will provide sufficient
carbohydrate reserves for subsequent growth and especially the stubble
of the last harvest before the long dry period will encourage fast growth
after the onset of rains.
Weeding of Napier grass will eliminate re-growth of undesirable plants,
remove the dry root bound Napier in order to promote fodder re-growth
by increasing soil aeration, and provide soil cover from mulching which
will improve water infiltration and decrease evaporation of soil water
and loss of nutrients. It should be weeded as early as possible after
planting and kept weed free throughout growth; it is suggested hand weeding
takes place after every harvest. Aggressive weeds such as couch grass
(Digitaria sp.) are best controlled during the dry season and regular
weeding helps to ensure that fertilizer applied after harvest will only
be utilized by the forage crop. During establishment, a closer spacing
will ensure that the Napier grass quickly forms a closed canopy that suppresses
weed growth and planting of forage legumes between and/or within Napier
rows will also ensure that the forage legumes suppress other unwanted
(f) Napier grass conservation
Lack of adequate and high quality feed is a major constraint to production
on smallholder farms, particularly in dry periods. In some eastern and
coastal regions of Kenya, the prolonged dry season can last up to 6 months
(Jatzold & Schmidt, 1982) and during that period dairy cattle could
be sustained on conserved Napier grass (Valk, 1990) from the high yields
produced during the rainy season, when there is often an excess (Anindo
& Potter 1994). Attempts have been made to make hay out of Napier
grass (Brown & Chavulimu, 1985; Manyuchi et al., 1996) but
the succulent stems limit the rate of drying (Snijders et al.,
1992a) and with excess drying the stems may become hard and brittle and
less palatable to livestock. The alternative is ensiling the surplus (Cuhna
& Silva, 1997) since leaving Napier grass to become too mature may
compromise the quality. However, the proportion of farmers ensiling is
small (Valk, 1990). Napier grass can be ensiled but the quality of silage
obtained depends on fresh grass quality, the ensiling process and use
of additives (Yokota & Ohshima, 1997: Ruiz et al., 1992); successful
ensiling to maximize nutrient preservation is achieved by harvesting the
crop at the proper age, minimizing the activities of plant enzymes and
undesirable epiphytic micro-organisms (naturally present in the forage
crop) and encouraging the dominance of lactic acid bacteria (Bolsen, 1995).
As it has low fermentation sugars, energy sources such as bran and molasses
have been found to enhance Napier silage quality (Yokota & Ohshima,
1997; Snijders & Wouters, 1990). Otieno et al., (1990) showed
that bana could be successfully ensiled when 1 m tall (101 days after
planting) and cut, wilted, chopped and ensiled with molasses additive
at 5 percent by weight of material (green matter basis) in a trench silo
Table 2. Mean values of quality parameters for ensiled
Napier grass with/without molasses
|Napier grass (bana)
|Silage w/out molasses
|Silage with molasses
On the basis of appearance and smell silage with molasses
received a higher score for both appearance (brownish/well pickled) and
smell (typical silage smell with no foul odour associated with putrefaction)
when compared to silage prepared without molasses.
During the prolonged dry season dairy cattle could be
sustained on ensiled Napier grass (Valk, 1990) which has an advantage
over maize or sorghum because it is a perennial forage and can therefore
be harvested over several seasons. Snijders & Wouters (1990) demonstrated
that chopped Napier grass wilted for one day and to which molasses (6%)
was added produced good silage as evidenced by the level of pH, volatile
fatty acids, CP, ammonia nitrogen, and organic matter digestibility (Table
Table 3. The quality of silage from chopped Napier
grass and added molasses (6%)
DM = dry matter; AC = Acetic acid; BU = Butyric acid; NH3-N
= Ammonia nitrogen, CP = crude protein; DOM = digestible organic matter.
Adapted from Snijders & Wouters (1990)
DRY MATTER YIELD
The dry and wet seasons in East Africa influence the dry matter yield
and quality of Napier grass fed to dairy cattle. Water deficit depresses
forage yield and has a negative effect on crude protein (CP) concentration
(Buxton & Mertens, 1995). Minson & Mcleod (1970) noted that relatively
high temperatures during the dry season reduce digestibility. Anindo &
Potter (1994) confirmed this and indicated that seasonal variation could
cause drastic changes in DM yield and quality characteristics as given
in Table 4 below.
Table 4. The effect of season on yield and quality
of Napier grass
|DM yield (kg DM/ha/day)
|CP (g/kg DM)
|NDF (g/kg DM)
|DM digestibility (%)
|DM intake (kg/100kg BW)
Source: Anindo & Potter (1994);
DM = dry matter; CP= crude protein; NDF= neutral detergent fibre, BW=body
The potential DM yield of Napier grass surpasses that
of other tropical grasses (Humphreys, 1994; Skerman & Riveros, 1990)
which is the reason for its popularity among dairy farmers in Kenya,
who need to maximize production per unit area of their land. On farm DM
yields of Napier from different regions average about 16 tonnes/ha/year
(Wouters, 1987) with little or no fertilizer. In Western Kenya, Mathura
et al. (1985) reported cumulative dry matter yield of Napier grass
of 40 tonnes/ha after 3 cuts in a year with the application of 100kg/ha
of NPK (20-20-0) fertilizer. Reported yields within the country vary between
10 to 40 tonnes DM/ha depending on soil fertility, climate and management
(Schreuder et al., 1993). High yields are achieved in the hot and
humid parts of zones II and III. Those DM yields contrast with those of
Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) and Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum),
which are popular, and which yield between 5 to 15 tonnes DM/ha (Boonman,
1993). Comparable Napier grass DM yields have been recorded elsewhere
in the tropics (Ferraris & Sinclair, 1980) and exceptionally high
DM yields up to 85 tons DM/ha here been cited when high rates of fertilizers
were applied to Napier grass (Skerman & Riveros, 1990). However the
DM yield alone may be of limited utility if it is not closely related
to DM intake of animals. Such high yields of Napier grass may consist
largely of stems, which may be rejected by animals. Although high yields
of 50 tonnes/ha of Napier grass were recorded experimentally in Puerto
Rico (Vicente-Chandler et al., 1994), the yields of digestible
dry matter were only just above those of other grasses such as Congo signal
(Brachiaria ruziziensis) common Guinea grass (Panicum maximum)
and stargrass (Cynodon nlemfuensis). It is best to think in terms
of yields of edible leaf and to maximize on leaf production especially
in the dry season. At farm level, the combination of DM yield and observed
DM intake can form the basis for estimating the number of livestock that
could be supported by nutrients from the available forage land.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION, NUTRITIVE VALUE AND DIGESTIBILITY
Serra et al. (1996) contrasted the mineral composition of Napier
grass with the required dietary concentrations for ruminants and concluded
that it is likely to be deficient in most of the minerals considered (Table
5). Inadequate availability of macro elements such as calcium (Ca) phosphorus
(P), Sulphur (S), Potassium (K), Sodium (Na), Chlorine (Cl) and Magnesium
(Mg) and a range of micro elements may lead to deficiency diseases in
ruminants and may limit fibre digestion and microbial protein synthesis
(Hanna & Gates, 1990; Durand & Kawashima, 1980). The availability
of P for nucleic-acid formation and S for the synthesis of sulphur amino
acids is particularly important. Calcium is closely related to P metabolism.
Mineral deficiencies for Ca, P, Co, Mo, Zn and Cu have been reported in
some parts of Kenya and this
has been attributed to low soil fertility (Jumba et al., 1995 a,b;
Abate, 1994; Mwakatundu, 1977). Dairy cattle should therefore be given
a balanced mineral mixture even when being fed on Napier grass.
Table 5. Mineral composition of Napier grass
Source: Sierra et al. (1996)
Chemical composition of the forage is a major determinant
in animal production (Skerman & Riveros, 1990; Minson, 1990). As Napier
grass matures, the leaf to stem ratio declines (Kariuki, 1989; Karanja,
1984) causing changes in the chemical composition and a concomitant reduction
in feed value (Minson, 1990). Feed quality may affect voluntary feed intake
and animal performance in terms of milk yield or body weight gain. Grass
maturity is usually negatively related to CP content (Minson, 1970; Norton
1981) and the results summarized by Skerman & Riveros (1990), Woodard
& Prine (1991) and Williams & Hanna (1995) confirm this
for Napier grass with the rate of decline in CP content more rapid in
stems than leaves (Brown & Chavulimu, 1985). The cell wall, composed
primarily of the structural carbohydrates cellulose and hemicellulose,
is the most important factor affecting forage utilization (Van Soest,
1994) as it comprises the major fraction of forage DM and its extent of
degradation by the microflora has important implications on forage digestibility
and intake (Paterson et al., 1994). The cell wall content in Napier
grass increases less prominently with age compared with other tropical
grasses such as Kikuyu and Pangola grass (Minson & Mcleod, 1990) and
ranges between 650 to 750g/kg DM. Whereas other tropical grasses showed
a daily decline of 0.30 to 0.50 units of DM digestibility, Napier grass
only declined by 0.20 units per day (Reid et al., 1973) which was
lower than the mean of 0.26 units per day for tropical forages (Minson,
1990). This makes Napier an attractive feed since it can retain a given
level of digestibility for a slightly longer period compared with other
tropical grasses. Stobbs & Thompson (1975) reported that OM digestibility
of most tropical grasses ranged from 50 to 60% which is consistent with
observations by Minson (1990). The data summarized in Table 6 confirm
this. However in well fertilized fields, Chaparro & Sollenberger (1997)
recorded a range of 65 to 79 % in vitro DM digestibility for dwarf
Napier grass so it is important to bear in mind that climate, soil fertility,
cutting interval, variety and management practices may have an important
influence on chemical composition and digestibility of Napier grass.
At farm level, the CP content does not always satisfy
the 60 to 80g/kg DM which is considered the minimum requirement for optimum
rumen microbial activity (Minson & Milford, 1976). A study covering
all main Napier grass growing areas in Kenya
showed that the mean CP level on farms was 76g/kg DM (Wouters, 1987).
Results from other parts of the world as summarized by Gohl (1981) and
from Kenya as reviewed by Schreuder
et al. (1993) indicate that the CP values commonly recorded for
Napier grass lie between 50 and 90 g/kg DM. Observations from more recent
studies are generally in agreement, as shown in Table 6. These results
contrast with those for dwarf Napier grass whose CP content has been reported
to range between 80 and 150 g/kg (Chaparro & Sollenberger, 1997; Flores
et al., 1993, Sollenberger & Jones, 1989) under good management
and high fertilizer application.
Table 6. Chemical composition (g/kg DM) and digestible
organic matter (g/kg DM) of Napier grass
Serra et al., 1996
Devasena et al., 1993
Abate & Abate, 1991
Van Eys et al., 1986
Muinga et al., 1993
Anindo & Potter 1994
Muinga et al., 1995
Kariuki et al., 1998
Abdulrazak et al., 1996
Anindo & Potter, 1986
Grant et al., 1974
Ibrahim et al., 1995
DM= dry matter; OM = Organic matter, CP= Crude Protein;
NDF= neutral detergent fibre; ADF acid detergent fibre; ADL=Acid detergent
lignin, DOM= digestible organic matter.
Nutritive value has been defined as the amount of feed
ingested and the efficiency with which nutrients are extracted from a
given feed (Norton & Poppi, 1995). From this perspective, little information
is available on the nutritive value of Napier grass as the bulk of the
available literature deals with its agronomy. Previous studies on Napier
grass in Eastern Africa have concentrated on aspects such as effects of
climate, fertilizer and cutting interval on DM yield, and to a lesser
extent on leaf stem ratio, proximate composition and in vitro digestibility
(Anindo & Potter, 1994; Wouters, 1987; Karanja, 1984; Reid et al.,
1973). Similar studies have been reported from other parts of the world
(Chaparro & Sollenberger, 1997; Mislevy et al., 1989). Compared
to other well known tropical pasture grasses such as Digitaria decumbens,
Chloris gayana, Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) and
Panicum maximum, relatively few data are available on the effects
of feeding Napier grass on animal performance (Minson, 1990, Minson &
The nutritive value of forage is mainly determined by
voluntary intake, crude protein and structural carbohydrates and forage
intake is influenced by digestible DM and CP content and the extent of
degradation (Minson, 1990). The structural polysaccharides composed primarily
of cellulose and hemicelluloses are primary restrictive determinants of
nutrient intake.The digestibility of forage in the rumen is related to
the proportion and extent of lignification (Van Soest, 1994). Chemical
composition and digestible DM may be poor indicators of the nutritive
value of Napier grass because the farmer fails to take into account nutrient
availability whilst the latter does not provide the profile of absorbed
nutrients. Therefore, if nutrient value is to be of practical importance,
the ultimate measure should be animal performance. It has been well documented
that animal performance is closely associated with the capacity of a feed
to promote effective microbial fermentation in the rumen and to supply
the quantities and balances of nutrients required for different productive
status (Beever, 1997; Sniffen et al., 1992; AFRC, 1992); thus milk
yield or weight gain should be closely related to intake, forage composition
and digestibility. In ruminants, the use of CP or digestible CP to determine
nitrogen value is regarded as inadequate because they ignore the role
of rumen microbes (AFRC, 1992; Tamminga et al., 1994), yet in all
forage diets, protein quality of each dietary component is important in
evaluating response to supplementation. Current protein evaluation systems
partition feed nitrogen into the amount degraded in the rumen and that
which escapes rumen degradation (Hvelplund, 1985; INRA, 1988; ARC, 1980;
AFRC 1992; Tamminga et al., 1994). The system is based on the concept
that the nitrogen (N) requirement of rumen microbes is distinct from the
requirements of the host animal, which is met by the protein escaping
the rumen along with the microbial protein. Thus, determining rumen degradation
of dietary protein and the amount that passes through the rumen and subsequently
becomes available for digestion by the host animal is important. This
information is lacking for Napier grass and other Kenya
DAIRY ANIMAL PERFORMANCE ON NAPIER GRASS-BASED DIETS
Within the smallholder dairy system, the recommended weaning weight for
a dairy heifer is 70kg weight with a target of 300kg to be attained by
18 months of age at the first service (MLD, 1991). This recommendation
assumes that heifers gain at least 0.5kg/day but in practice less than
0.25kg is observed on small farms (Gitau et al., 1994) and therefore
puberty is not achieved until after 24 months. This is attributed to the
low quality of Napier grass fed on the farms and the absence of concentrate
feeds (Wouters, 1987). The potential of Napier grass for weight gain in
cattle has been investigated with or without energy or protein supplements.
Results seem to differ widely depending on grass quality, cattle species
and the level and the type of supplement used. Friesian heifers gained
between 0.13 and 0.8 kg/day when fed on Napier grass varying in maturity
from flowering to early vegetative stage (CP 63 to 96 g/kg DM) and achieved
a daily DM intake of 2.1 to 3.1 kg per 100kg body weight (Arias, 1980).
Dixon (1984) obtained a weight gain of 0.72 +/- 0.21kg/day from Holstein
heifers fed 60 to 85 day old Napier grass of unspecified CP content supplement
with 0.2, 0.4 and 0.8 percent molasses on body weight basis. The author
noted no significant influence of molasses on weight gain, FE and DM intake.
The mean milk yield on small farms in Kenya is less than 2000 kg/cow/year
(Abate & Abate, 1991) and although it has been established that commercial
concentrates could boost milk yield by about 50 percent (Anindo &
Potter, 1986) their widespread use is limited by the high cost (Valk,
Muinga et al. (1995) demonstrated that supplementing
Bos indicus x Bos taurus cows fed Napier grass ad
libitum (CP 64 g/kg DM) with varying levels of Leucaena improved
milk production by about 28 percent (Table 7).
Table 7. Effect of leucaena supplementation on dry
matter intake and milk yield
Leucaena level (kg fresh/day)
|DM intake (kg day-1)
| Napier grass
| DMlg kg 0.75
| Milk yield (kg/day)
Adapted from Muinga et al. (1995);
DM = dry matter intake, *1.2 kg maize bran offered (CP 95g/kg DM; DOM
Protein - rich forages (PRF), which can be used in combination with Napier
grass, are endowed with the important attribute of high protein content,
palatability and digestibility relative to grasses. For example while
the mean protein content of tropical grass has been reported as 75 g/kg
DM, that for tropical forage legumes averaged 170 g/kg DM (D’ Mello &
Several species has been documented as useful supplements
to Napier grass: Desmodium spp. (Snijders et al., 1992b), Calliandra
calothyrsus (Kaitho et al., 1993) and Leucaena leucocephala
(Mureithi et al., 1995); others include: Ipomoea batatas
(vines), Medicago sativa, Musa sapientum (leaves/stems),
Trifolium semipilosum and Canna edulis (Boonman, 1993; Karachi,
1982). However, few studies have been conducted in which Napier grass
is fed to cattle in combination with PRF. Nevertheless, an ideal forage
supplement should increase or at least maintain intake of basal roughage
rather than substitute for it (McMeniman et al., 1988). The PRF
overcome protein deficiency in tropical grasses (Minson, 1990), by providing
ruminally degradable and by-pass protein (Norton & Poppi, 1995; Brandt
& Klopfenstein, 1986). In a study where gliricidia and leucaena were
used to supplement two groups of zebu steers (mean body weight 173 and
208 kg) offered napier grass ad libitum, significant differences
were observed in weight gain and DM intake across similar levels of supplementation
(Abdulrazak et al., 1996) as summarized in Table 8. These
considerable differences in response between gliricidia and leucaena suggest
that the variations depend partly upon factors intrinsic to the supplement
and partly to the quality of grass fed. Studies conducted using sheep
and goats have shown that intake, digestion and weight gains improved
when energy and protein supplement were included in Napier grass diets
(Yates & Pangabean, 1988: van Eys et al., 1986.
Table 8. Influence of Gliricidia and Leucaena
on DM intake and weight gain of zebu steers fed on Napier grass
Level of Supplementation (g/kg
|Gliricidia (CP = 210)
|Napier (CP = 79)
|Leucaena (CP = 220)
Source: Abdulrazak et al., 1996; DMi = dry matter
CP = Crude protein (g/kg DM).
In a study using dairy goats, supplementation of Napier
grass with Erythrina spp. foliage enhanced milk production
Feeding of Napier grass to dairy cows - some examples
of fodder rations
Scenario 1. Crossbred cows (Ayrshire /Brown Swiss
x Sahiwal) when fed on Napier grass only will consume about 2.2 kg dry
matter of Napier grass per 100 kg body weight. This will provide enough
nutrients for their maintenance and about 5kg of milk.
Scenario 2. Cows fed on Napier grass and supplemented
with about 8kg of fresh leucaena (2kg dry matter) will consume about 2.8kg
of dry matter per 100kg. body weight.
This fodder mixture will provide enough nutrients for
maintenance and about 10kg of milk daily.
Scenario 3. A crossbred cow weighing about 400kg
at peak milk production should be offered about 12kg of dry matter per
day. For the cow to produce 15 kg of milk per day it should have available
feed at all times.
FARMERS EXPERIENCE WITH NAPIER
John Khwalwale and his wife Agnes M’mboga Khwalwale are smallholder dairy
farmers in Mbihi sub-location in the densely populated Vihiga District
of Western Kenya. They have 8 children (5 daughters, 3 sons) and 12 grandchildren.
They own 0.6ha of land of which they have already apportioned 0.2 ha to
their eldest married son John Akidiva who is also a smallholder dairy
farmer. Mr and Mrs Khwalwale have 4 dairy cattle while their son has two.
They have been dairy farmers since 1982 when Mr Khalwale attended a Farmer’s
Training Seminar at Mabanga Farmer Training Centre, Bungoma. They were
previously crop (maize/beans) farmers producing only 5–6 bags of maize
and 1-2 bags of beans. In 1982 they decided to concentrate on dairy and
to grow only Napier grass on most of the farm and to keep grade animals.
The grass they established in 1982 is still healthy and productive after
more than 20 years and they indicate that if well managed, it can stay
for many years. “We have had no problem with our Napier grass for the
last 20 years. We have supplied a lot of materials to other farmers around
us and manage our Napier well so that we get enough livestock feed for
our dairy animals. We get much more regular income from our farm than
we used to get from crop farming; then with maize and beans we could hardly
get enough to feed our family for the whole year, but with dairy farming
we get regular resources to feed, clothe, educate and give Medicare to
our family”. When asked how they have been able to keep their Napier grass
productive and good looking for so many years they said. “We planted this
Napier grass from planting materials we got from the Research Station
and according to the advice given to us by both the Research staff and
Ministry of Agriculture Extension personnel. We cut the Napier grass when
it reaches the height of about 1 metre when it is green and nutritious.
We have a rod, which we received, from the Research Station, which is
painted with various colours indicating the possible state and nutrition
of Napier grass: black indicating that Napier grass is still very young,
deep green to green indicating that it is nutritious and should be harvested
when it reaches the correct height of about 1 metre; pale green indicates
that the quality has started declining, yellow to red colour indicating
that the quality has declined either because it is too mature or because
of poor fertility.
Figure 9. Mr Khwalwale standing in his
Napier grass farm with the rod he uses to check the quality of
We only cut and feed our Napier grass when it is green
and we know that when it becomes pale green, yellow or red its nutrition
is low. It is also not good to feed the young grass because although the
quality is high a lot of material would be harvested from a bigger area
of land to get enough feeding material for our dairy animals.”
Mr Khwalwale mentioned that he carries his rod even when
he goes to visit other farmers to advise them on the right stage of harvesting
Napier grass. Occasionally he purchases extra Napier grass from farmers
who have no dairy animals but who grow Napier for income. He uses his
rod to select the most nutritious grass to buy. On Napier grass management,
Mr and Mrs Khwalwale stated that “we cut the Napier grass leaving a stubble
height of 10 – 15 cm from the ground. We weed our Napier grass field after
every Napier harvest making sure that we dig deep enough to enable roots
of Napier grass to have adequate aeration and to allow rain water to infiltrate
deep to the rooting system. We remove any dead stumps in the rootstock
ensuring that there is adequate space separating the stools, removing
undesirable weeds and leaving only healthy stumps that are ready to make
rapid re-growth. We them apply adequate farm yard manure, which we spread
in the field, and slurry, which we pour in furrows and cover. We apply
the slurry only in the early morning or late in the evening to avoid loss
through evaporation. With this management of Napier grass we are able
to obtain enough forage to maintain our 4 dairy cows throughout the year”.
The photograph in Figure 9 was taken in late January at the peak of the
dry season and yet they still had good looking Napier grass.
On dairy management and milk production they indicated
that “we only keep 4 mature dairy animals most of the time. We slaughter
any bull calves when they reach two weeks old. We also sell our heifer
calves as early as possible to reduce pressure on feeding material and
loss of milk to calves. Our best dairy cow called “Kadembechi” produces
48 “treetop” bottles full of milk per day while the other three produce
28, 24 and 20 bottles respectively” [A “treetop” bottle is 0.75 of a litre
costing about 20 Kenya shillings]. On feeding regime they explained that
“we cut-and-carry our Napier grass, chop it together with some herbaceous
or fodder legumes which we have planted within the farm. We have calliandra,
sesbania and leucaena planted as hedgerows along the farm and we also
have some desmodium. We make sure that there is adequate feeding material
in the cattle troughs and enough water for drinking. We also use two tons
of brewers’ waste (machicha) which we collect every month from
Kisumu. Every day each animal gets 1 karai full of brewers waste
which we mix with 40 litres of water in a drum before we feed to the dairy
animal. [1 karai is equivalent to a tin of about 5 – 6 litres]”.
They indicated that they have no problems marketing their
milk because there is a high demand from the population around the farm,
which is close to Mbale township which is the Headquarters of Vihiga District
and Kakamega and Kisumu towns are also not very far away. Milk is sold
to neighbours, to residents of Vihiga Township, to Vihiga Dairy Co-operative
Society and to the Asian community from Kisumu which comes to collect
Mr. and Mrs Khwalwale have been very useful in extending
Napier grass and dairy technology to other farmers. They often educate
other farmers through National Broadcasting Media by participating in
Farmers Education Radio Broadcasting Forums such as “Chakula kwa taifa”-
Food for the Nation. Many farmers and scholars have visited and have been
able to learn much from them. They have also participated in the Kenya
Agricultural Shows where they have taken their animals for display and
used their animals to discuss various livestock technologies including
Napier grass management. Figure 10 shows Mr. Khwalwale (farmer in a cap)
displaying one of his Friesian dairy animals in the Western Region Agricultural
Show, which was attended by the former Head of State, President Daniel
Arap Moi (in blue suit) as the president was being taken around by the
author (in white overall) to inspect the livestock parade in the show
Figure 10. Mr. Khwalwale displaying his
well-fed Friesian dairy cow (judged as champion) at the Agricultural
Society of Kenya livestock parade inspected by the former President
Mr. Khwalwale’s son John Akidiva has been keenly leaning
from his parents and has two dairy cattle producing a total of 25 litres
of milk per day from his 0.2 ha of Napier grass.
Mrs Okido Ratemo lives in Sunuka division of Kisii District on a farm
of one third of an hectare. The farm is zero-grazed with seven head of
dairy cattle (5 milking cows and 2 heifers). There are also many dairy
goats most of which are in milk and are also kept under zero grazing (Figure
11). They also grow horticultural crops mainly vegetables and bananas,
plus some fodder trees such as calliandra and mulberry which are used
as feed for the dairy animals.
Mrs Okido Ratemo indicates that “we have another separate
parcel of land, which we bought later, which is about 0.8 ha where we
grow Napier grass, which is the main feed for our dairy animals. We cut
the Napier grass when it is about 1 metre high, chop it together with
the fodder trees and feed our dairy animals. We supplement this with other
grasses, weeds, banana pseudostems and other farm by-products, particularly
during the dry season. During milking, we use dairy meal, which we purchase
from shops. We also make our own homemade concentrates from maize meal,
cotton seed cake, sunflower and salt. The slurry and dung from our zero-grazing
unit is channelled to our biogas unit where it is digested to produce
methane gas for our domestic use (lighting and cooking) (Figure 12).
The slurry from the bio-digester is collected in drums and other containers
and taken to fertilize our Napier grass fields and also some is left to
flow by gradient to the horticultural garden and to the crops grown within
Figure12. Mrs Okido shows her biogas unit
that produces methane for her cooking and lighting and slurry
for fertilizing crops
“We strongly believe that there is no fodder crop better
than Napier grass, which can be used as livestock feed. Napier grass is
important to us because it produces a lot of herbage for our dairy animals.
Depending on the way Napier grass is planted and managed, it can be more
productive for it has potential to increase in yield with increased doses
of commercial fertilizer and manure. We used to grow Napier grass using
the “conventional” method but nowadays we prefer growing it using the
“Tumbukiza” method because this is much more productive and higher yielding
than the conventional method. When grown in trenches (furrows) using the
tumbukiza method it produce more than double the amount of herbage. We
have also compared the yield of Napier grass planted in Tumbukiza pits
with the yield in Tumbukiza trenches and found that trenches are more
productive and yield higher than pits (Figure 13). Also, growing
it in trenches is better than growing it in pits, because cutting and
harvesting are cumbersome and difficult in pits compared with trenches”.
Figure 13. Mrs Okido discusses
the various methods of Napier grass establishment and compares
yields when grown by conventional method (left ) and by the Tumbukiza
methods in pits and in trenches (right).
“Also, fertilizing Napier grass after harvesting is easier
when it is grown in trenches than in pits. Slurry is poured continuously
in the trench and this is easier than pouring slurry in every Tumbukiza
pit. We also found out that there is less wastage of land when grass is
planted continuously in trenches than when it is planted in pits. Harvesting
from one continuous trench produces forage to fill one pick up, but to
get a similar amount from pits we would to harvest grass from several
pits covering a wider area of land. It was also noted that during prolonged
periods of drought, moisture conservation was better in trenches than
in pits and the Napier grass in trenches remained greener and healthier
for longer periods; in general grass grown using the conventional method
was much more stressed with prolonged drought than when grown by the Tumbukiza
method. It was also evident to us that damage to the grass by moles is
much less in tumbukiza than in conventional plots.
Before planting, we ploughed the fields and removing
all the couch grass and then using the conventional method we planted
one Napier grass stem cutting in every hole dug 15-20cm deep at a spacing
of one metre between rows and a half a metre within rows; a handful of
farmyard manure was placed in each hole when planting. When using Tumbukiza
methods, we first ploughed the fields then dug the pits and trenches;
pits were about 60cm deep, 60cm in diameter with a spacing of 60cm separating
each pit and 1 metre inter row spacing. We also dug trenches, which were
also 60cm deep, 60cm wide, and with 90 cm separating one trench from the
other; the trenches were dug the whole length of our farm. We separated
topsoil from subsoil from both pits and trenches and used the topsoil
to mix with farmyard manure at a ratio of 1:2 topsoil: manure, filling
the pits and trenches 3/4 full with the topsoil-manure mixture and left
them to settle until the onset of the rainy season when we planted several
Napier grass cuttings (5-10) in each pit or at every ½ metre in the trench.
We also planted sweet potatoes on the bench terraces of the Tumbukiza
holes or trenches particularly during the initial Napier grass establishment.
Whenever we harvest Napier grass we weed the plot and apply slurry to
fertilize the re-growth. At cutting we leave a stubble height of 10-15cm
(from the soil surface).
During a prolonged dry season we normally have a feed
shortage and have to buy additional Napier grass from our neighbouring
smallholder farmers who grow purely for sale. Also, some farmers grow
Napier grass as a soil conservation measure on the terraces of their hilly
and sloping farms and sell the grown grass to livestock farmers. During
the rainy season, we normally have some excess of Napier grass which could
be conserved in the form of silage for dry season feeding, however, although
we presently don’t conserve feed we are aware of the technology and we
plan to try it in future”.
Purity and Stanley Gachogo of Ngindo Division in Embu District are a wife
and husband who depend on dairy farming to feed their family. They have
a 1.6 ha farm on which about 0.6 ha are Napier grass for their livestock.
“We have six mature dairy cows in milk, two heifers and many dairy goats
that mainly depend on Napier grass as livestock feed. We have three equal
portions of Napier grass of about 0.2 ha each; the first portion was planted
in 1990 and the latest in 1997. Napier grass is able to remain productive
for a long time depending on the way it is managed. We never apply commercial
fertilizers like DAP or CAN to our Napier grass but instead we use slurry,
which is a mixture of cattle faeces and urine from the zero-grazing unit;
there is a channel, which leads cows’ urine into a covered pit and before
we use the slurry in the pit we stir it and then carry it to the Napier
grass field (Figure 14).
Figure 14. (left) Purity stirs slurry in the collecting
pit of the zero grazing units while (left and right) Stanley
collects slurry from the pit into buckets ready to transport
it to the farm.
After every Napier grass harvest, we weed the plots,
make furrows between the grass rows and pour the slurry and cover it (Figure
15); the nutrients from the slurry are then easily absorbed by the
grass roots and it grows faster, greener and is more productive”.
Figure 15. (left) Purity weeds
the Napier and makes furrows while (right) Stanley pours slurry
in the furrows as Purity watches and will then coverthe slurry
in the furrows with soil.
“The portion of Napier grass that we planted in 1990
is still highly productive and is as productive as the ones planted in
1997. Normally as we weed the Napier grass and make furrows between the
plots for the slurry, we remove any dead Napier grass stumps and those
that have spread to cover the inter-rows. We only leave the healthy plants
in the stumps to maintain the original row spacing; with this and with
regular fertilization, the grass remains healthy and productive for many
years. We have also planted many species of fodder trees and shrubs and
other herbaceous legumes along the terraces, along the boundary fence
of our farm, along the fences separating paddocks and along the pathways
leading to and separating our homestead (Figure 16). All these
fodder and herbaceous leguminous species are cut and chopped together
with Napier grass and fed to the dairy animals. We have several species
of Leucaena, Calliandra, Sesbania, Gliricidia, Mulberry and Desmodium
planted to provide additional feed for our livestock.
Figure 16. Leguminous fodder trees and
shrubs grown along the farm fences being harvested for animal
Mulberry leaves are good for livestock digestion and
when we feed our dairy animals with fodder trees, we add mulberry leaves
to the feed. Normally fodder trees are not totally digestible because
they have tannins, but we believe that mulberry leaves reduces tannin
content and thus makes fodder trees to be easily and 100 percent digestible.
We have planted the following species of leucaena namely L.
pallida, L. trichandra, L. leucocephala and L. collinsii. Of
all the species of leucaena and indeed all other fodder trees,
L. leucocephala is the most popular fodder tree; the major and
unfortunate problem is that this species of fodder tree is attacked by
leucaena psyllids, which has wiped out most of the trees in this
farm and in other farmers fields. There are small insects which fly from
tree to tree sucking sap from Leucaena leucocephala leaves causing
the trees to dry and die. Although Napier grass is the main crop in the
farm (Figure 17), we also have some coffee, medicinal trees, bananas
and other horticultural crops planted in the farm”.
Figure 17. Purity and Stanley show the
various portions of their land occupied by Napier grass and fodder
trees and shrubs that will be harvested for dairy feed.
“The three portions of the field each provide feed for
one month for our animals. We rotate so that after one month of feeding
on one portion, we move to the second portion of the field and then to
the third portion. This rotation ensures that we have adequate Napier
grass to last for 10 months of the year during the normal rainy season.
During the two driest months of the year, January and February, we normally
experience a shortage of grass, so we purchase Napier grass from neighbouring
farmers. Most farmers in Embu grow Napier grass and some grow it purely
for sale. Also farmers who own land on slopes grow Napier grass along
the terraces for soil conservation and erosion control and the grass is
sold to livestock farmers. Grass may be sold in terms of “back loads”
or in terms of area, which is negotiated and agreed with the owner. A
back load is a heap of Napier grass cut and tied together, which can be
carried by a strong person (mainly women) or using a bicycle (Figure
18). We normally pay 15-20 Ksh for each back load and we would purchase
6 back loads (equivalent to 3 ½ large wheelbarrows full) of Napier grass
per day to feed our dairy animals. We also go round to identify farmers
with good Napier grass for sale and then hire the Napier grass from the
farmers. We assess the quantity and quality of the Napier grass in the
field before hiring it, if the Napier grass is able to feed all our dairy
animals for three weeks or one month, we normally pay about two to three
thousand Kenya shillings for
Normally the quality of Napier grass during the peak
of the dry season is not high so we argue with owners of the field to
reduce the cost accordingly and then make our own arrangements for cutting
and transporting the grass on a daily basis”.
Figure 18. Farmer carrying purchased Napier
grass on a bicycle
“Napier grass is much more profitable than growing food
crops such as maize or cash crops like coffee. Prior to planting Napier
grass in 1997 we used to grow maize on this land and we would harvest
about 4-5 bags of 90kg of shelled maize during the main growing season
lasting 5-6 months. We also grew a short rains crop and harvested two
additional bags. So in the whole year we would harvest six to seven bags
of maize which were worth seven thousand Kenya
shillings at a rate of one thousand per bag, so this portion of land would
produce about seven thousand shillings per year when grown with maize.
This same portion of land is producing much more when planted with Napier
grass: we are able to harvest Napier grass every 6-8 weeks during the
rainy season which means that in one year we are able to get 6-8 harvests
from this plot; as the harvested grass can feed all of our dairy animals
for one month and during our highest peak production of milk one animal
can produce milk worth three thousand Kenya Shillings per week, then for
the one month we feed the animals on this portion of land we are able
to receive twelve thousand (12,000/=) Kenya Shillings from that one animal.
If we have three animals producing well we are able to get thirty-six
thousand Kenya Shillings from milk for that one month in a single harvest
of this Napier grass. Considering the number of harvests we make in a
year from this portion of land then if we harvest every third month, we
can make a conservative four harvests per year which would earn us over
Kshs.100, 000 in milk as compared to Kshs. 7,000 for maize. So you can
see that we are convinced that Napier grass is much more profitable than
planting maize. We also note that apart from getting money from milk,
there is additional value from dung and from the calves that are born
and raised as heifers and we also get slurry for fertilizing our crops
and can make rich compost manure mainly from the dung and the remains
of Napier grass and legumes collected from the zero grazing unit.
Napier grass is even much more profitable than coffee
which is normally considered as the main cash crop in this region. We
used to have 630 trees of coffee but when we learned about dairy farming
we had to uproot some of them and use the land to grow Napier grass. Previously
we had purchased Napier grass on a daily basis to feed our one cow. We
then compared the amount of money we used to get from milk from that cow
and then deducted the amount of money we used to pay for the Napier grass
feed. We realized that the area of Napier grass we used to cut from our
neighbour to feed our one dairy cow was equivalent to the area on which
we planted ten stems of coffee which produced comparatively less money.
So we decided to uproot the coffee stems to plant our own Napier grass
and save money on feed; also we soon realized that the amount of money
we received from coffee was so little and in most cases we received no
money because of the lack of a foreign market for coffee. Planting Napier
grass is the answer to that problem because there is a high milk demand
in this district and in Kenya
as a whole. Coffee prices went so low that we would get only as much as
Kshs. Fifty (shs.50/=) for every coffee plant picked. When comparing the
production of one coffee tree with a stump of Napier grass, we find that
on average one stump of Napier grass planted using convectional method
when cut and fed to a high yielding dairy cow can produce three bottles
of milk per day (a bottle of milk is 0.75litres). Each bottle of milk
costs a minimum of ten Kenya shillings (10/=) which means that every stump
of Napier grass produces thirty Kenya shillings (30/=); so in a year when
this stump is cut about six times, it can produce one hundred and eighty
Kenya shillings (180/=) which is much more than the fifty Kenya shillings,
we would get from each coffee tree. Besides, the land area occupied by
one Napier grass stump at the normal spacing of 1m x 0.5m spacing is much
less that the land space occupied by one coffee tree.
On average we harvest about 60 stumps from an area of
about 25m2 for feed for one day for our dairy herd of six mature
animals and wo heifers (8 cattle + some goats). On average one stump of
Napier grass harvested at the correct height of growth weighs five-kilogram
fresh weight; so on average we harvest about 300kg daily fresh weight.
We also harvest fodder trees which we add to the Napier grass in the ratio
of 1:3 fodder tree to Napier grass i.e. we harvest about 100 kg of fodder
tree per day. The total fresh weight feed used by our dairy animals is
approximately 400kg, which works out to be approximately 55-60kg of fresh
material per mature dairy animal per day. The fresh weight could be a
bit lower during the dry season and higher during the wet season because
of variation in the moisture content of the material. We chop the grass/fodder
shrubs mixture using a kerosene driven chaff cutter (Figure 19)
and this high quality feed is offered to the animals ad libitum
and in addition the animals may be given some other feeds such as banana
psendostems and other farm by-products. The Napier grass and fodder tree
mixture is also fed to our dairy goats, which produce about 3-5 litres
of milk per day.
Figure 19. (left) Purity feeds
Napier grass/forage legume mixture into the motorized chaff cutter
while (right) the author inspects the finely chopped forage material
which is ready for use
We do not purchase concentrates like dairy meal from
the shops but instead we use our own home made concentrates as supplementary
feeds for our milking animals. We mainly use calliandra leaves,
which we dry in the shade and store at room temperature; then we mix 1½
kg of dried calliandra with 45kg of wheat bran and add 1kg of fish
meal and 1kg of cotton seed cake and offer 3kg of this concentrate per
milking cow during every milking. We also offer this concentrate to cows
which are about to calve”.
Mr and Mrs Muriuki Tera live in Gatituri in the central division of Meru
district with their family on a 1.2 ha mixed farm, in which they have
planted coffee, Napier grass, fodder trees and shrubs, and horticultural
crops such as bananas and chillies. “The farm is on the slopes running
down to the river and we planted some Napier grass and fodder trees, mostly
calliandra, on terraces across the slopes, both for feed and soil
conservation. The grass we planted in 1989 using conventional methods
on about 0.1 ha is now 15 years old; we also have grass on four bench
terraces covering another 0.1 ha which was planted in 1994; so altogether
we have 0.2 ha of Napier grass. Most of the farm is under coffee and we
used to be one of the best coffee farms in this region when coffee farming
was famous and paying well. However, Kenya
coffee farming has now declined to a level where we no longer have any
income from our coffee. In addition we kept dairy cattle in a zero-grazing
unit from which we got a good amount of money from milk, which complemented
money from coffee in paying school fees and for our family subsistence
and maintenance. Since we put the zero grazing unit at the upper section
our farm next to our homestead, we made channels that led slurry to the
Napier grass field downslope to fertilize the Napier grass field where
production was very high, much higher than what we have currently because
we do not use any form of fertilization on the Napier grass. The Napier
grass is still doing well due to the residual fertilizers and also because
it is located down slope receiving fertility from the nutrients being
washed down from the upper part of the farm.
When we could get no income from our coffee plants and
had to depend on dairy farming entirely, we reached a point where we could
not pay for the increased school fees from the milk revenue. Therefore
we had to sell our dairy cows to pay for school fees and to maintain the
family. We continue to sell Napier grass and fodder legumes in order to
continue raising school fees and to maintain our family. Most of our children
have now gone through school except the last born who is finishing high
school this year. We sell Napier grass to a livestock farmer on contract
and he pays us five thousand Ksh. for every harvest he makes of the whole
amount of Napier grass (about 0.2 ha) and fodder shrubs planted on the
terraces. He cuts four times in a year and the income from the Napier
grass has been able to sustain the family in food and pay for school fees.
At the moment I prefer selling Napier grass on contract to farmers who
have a large number of dairy cows because such livestock farmers are able
to harvest the whole Napier grass farm within a short time to give the
Napier grass time to re-grow for the next harvest. Some other farmers
sell their Napier grass on the basis of heaps or back loads or in terms
of pick up loads. One ton pick up load of Napier grass may be sold for
five hundred Kenya shillings (Ksh. 500/=). We plan that when we finish
paying for the third term’s school fees for our last born child, we shall
start saving and by early next year we shall be able to buy a dairy cow.
We also plan to uproot most of our coffee trees and replace them with
both Napier grass and some bananas. This will enable us to develop our
dairy production. We like dairying because it pays better than crops,
particularly coffee or maize. We used to grow maize on the 0.1 ha currently
under Napier grass and harvested one bag of maize during the main maize
growing season and hardly a bag during the short growing season. A 90
kg bag of shelled maize gave us one thousand Kenya shillings. From the
four Napier grass harvests which we get without using any fertilizer,
we are able to earn ten (10) thousand Kenya shillings per year from the
0.1 ha which we had grown by conventional methods. We are therefore able
to buy five bags of maize and keep it for our family use for most of the
year from the grass harvests. In addition the role of Napier grass as
a soil conservation measure along the terraces is very important to us
(Figure 20). Before we planted the Napier grass on the sloping farm, most
of the soil used to be eroded, but now with the Napier grass forming barriers
along the slopes there is no soil erosion and we are able to plant other
crops such as chillies which earn us additional funds for family needs”.
Figure 20. Mr Muriuki discusses the importance
of Napier grass as a cash crop and as a soil conservation measure.
He has grown Napier grass along the slopes to form protecting
belts with chillies as the main crop on the bench terraces.
Katana Mashia farm is located in Bomani, Kikambala division of Kilifi
District of the coast
province it is a 4.8 ha family farm for Katana Mashia and the families
of his three sons. Although most of the farm is under coconuts, 2.8 ha
are under livestock and fodder production with the rest under both food
and cash crops. Napier grass is planted in various fields so that during
the rainy season there is always grass ready to be harvested; under coconuts
the grass is in alleys between the 10 metres apart coconut rows and where
there are no coconuts the grass is planted in alleys between Leucaena
and/or Gliricidia hedges which are 5 metres apart. The wide coconut and
fodder tree row spacings allow for easy land preparation using a tractor
or ox plough and planting Napier grass using the conventional method with
manure or slurry and in places intercropping with the herbaceous legume
butterfly pea, which produces a fodder high in protein and energy. The
legume also acts as a cover crop to maintain soil moisture, recycles nitrogen
through fixation and thus improves soil fertility, results in fewer gaps
in the Napier grass and produces more forage than when the grass is grown
alone. Establishing the grass in alleys between fodder tree hedgerows
has the advantage that both can be harvested together and fed to the dairy
animals. In most cases fodder trees are cut at a height of half a metre
and will re-grow vigorously; however, some are left so that they can provide
poles and firewood. Napier grass is the main fodder and is cut when about
1 metre tall, leaving a stubble of 10cm, after which the fields are weeded
and slurry and manure applied in furrows, which are made between grass
rows and covered after the slurry application. During the hot rainy season
grass production is high and can be cut almost monthly, but during the
dry season is cut after every two months or even longer.
Unlike many farmers, Katana Mashia harvests excess grass
during the rainy season and makes silage (especially when the long rainy
season is almost over): the grass is either chopped using a chaff cutter
or laid in sheaves in a large slanting pit (silo) dug into the sandy soil,
mixed with crushed sugarcane or molasses from a sugar factory, tightly
compacted and covered with polythene sheet to make silage or “grass gem”
as they call it; this provides a good fodder supplement during the dry
season. The silage made can be kept for 3 months or more before it is
used during dry periods; in fact well-made silage can be kept for even
The farmer has 10 mature dairy milking cows and two heifers
that are mainly Friesian, Ayrshire or Guernsey breeds and crosses, under
zero-grazing. Each mature animal needs approximately 50 kg of freshly
cut Napier grass per day mixed with about 1/3 weight of legumes and then
finely chopped with a chaff cutter; this is supplemented with other feeds
such as mineral salts, maize germ which is bought and fed at a rate of
4 kg per animal when milking, crop by-products (including maize cobs,
maize stalk, bean husks and banana pseudostems), and green grass [mainly
Rhodes (Chloris gayana)] and natural pastures [mainly Panicum
spp.] harvested from neighbouring farms particularly during dry seasons.
Occasionally the farm experiences an exceptionally prolonged dry season
of over 4 months when Napier grass completely dries up particularly on
sandy soils that have not been improved with cattle manure and slurry
and then he uses his silage and also improved and natural pastures from
his farm or which he purchases from neighbouring farms; natural pastures
can be purchased for thirty (30/=) Kenya shillings per full oxen-cart
and he needs 4 cart loads per day (see Figure 21c). The fodder legumes/trees
normally better tolerate the dry periods because of their deeper rooting
systems. Any left over feed is composted.
Cows produce on average 15 litres of milk per day and
with his 10 milking cows he is able to employ many people around the farm;
jobs include: attending to and feeding the cattle, cutting grass and cleaning
out and spreading manure (on the grass and other cash and food crops),
as well as three young men taking care of the milk sales. The farm produces
almost 100 litres of milk to spare each day once the four families on
the farm have had their share. Some of the milk is sold at twenty-five
shillings (25/=) per litre to milk vendors who then sell it for up to
forty shillings (40/=) per litre in urban centres. The rest of the milk
is loaded into churns and taken by bicycle to sell door to door to families
near the highway and in the nearby Mtwapa township. In spite of what farmers
regard as interference in milk marketing by large commercial businessmen
who import cheap powdered milk and flood the market with milk, smallholder
dairying is still very profitable since most people still prefer fresh
milk and the demand remains high. Katana Mashia reckons that there is
more money to be made by selling milk this way rather than selling it
to the dairy co-operatives who pay approximately 60 cents per litre less.
Even after the herdsmen, the foremen, the stable boys, the day labourers
and milk boys have been paid, the farm still shows a profit. So the farm
is doing well, the farmer is able to service his initial loan used to
purchase the dairy animals, and has gone one to expand his dairy herd
without having to use outside capital. He makes much more money from dairy
cattle than from either cash or food crops. His major cash crops are cashew
nuts, mangoes and coconuts while his major food crops are maize, cassava,
beans and horticultural crops.
Mr Katana Mashia’s farm has been used as a demonstration
farm to extend Napier grass technology to other farmers in the Coast province.
Even scientists have been keen on visiting this farm to see how technologies
developed are adapted by farmers. It is particularly useful as a reference
farm for “Dairy cows under coconuts”.
|Figure 21a-d. Various activities on Katana Mashia’s
(a) Napier grass being chopped
(b) Chopped Napier grass being fed to livestock
(c) Napier grass collected during prolonged
period of drought
(d) Livestock feeding on dry natural grass
during severe drought
Mr Mukhwana Obbuyi and Mrs Majuma Mukhwana Obbuyi are smallholder mixed
dairy and crop farmers living in Mtepeni, Kisingitini in Mtwapa, Kilifi
district of Coast Province. They have three dairy cattle and goats that
depend on Napier grass grown on their farm. They also grow beans, green
grams, cassava, vegetables and maize, as well as cash crops such as coconut,
cashew nuts, mango, lemons and bananas. “Napier grass is the most important
fodder which we grow using conventional methods; it performs very well
during the rainy season and we depend on it as the major dairy feed, mixing
it with leaves from Leucaena and Gliricidia trees and shrubs. When well
established and managed it remains productive for many years, but does
not persist well under prolonged drought of more than 5 months such as
we experienced this year. We are now in mid May 2004 and yet we have no
rains since late last year; even then we had much below average rainfall
last year. This has resulted in most of our Napier grass drying up except
for those growing in deep fertile soils with better water retention ability;
we plan to re-establish our Napier grass fields as soon as the rains come,
but we were expecting the long rains by mid March and to-date we are still
hopeful they will come. Such prolonged droughts are not common, but they
are expected once every ten years in the Kenya Coastal region. We now
depend on dry natural grasses growing on isolated areas with fertile soil
and better water retention; we collect the grass or graze our animals
on these natural grasses to sustain our dairy animals in a semi-zero grazing
system, but also feed Leucaena and Gliricidia that we have grown as well
as maize bran, chicken mash and any other concentrates that we are able
Dairy production is much more profitable than food or
cash crops in our farm; cash crops like coconuts, cashew nuts, lemons
and mango trees take a long time to mature and become productive, but
even when they are mature they bear fruits seasonally and what we get
annually from them cannot compare with what we get cumulatively from the
milk yields. Milk from this one dairy animal (Figure 22) has been used
to pay school fees for our children through primary and secondary school
and college and has also provided cash to purchase our daily needs. Even
during the drought period when the crops are barren, we still get some
milk from our animals. We depend on dairy since we are both retired civil
servants and even when we were still in service, money received on a daily
basis from our dairy animals used to keep us until the end of the month
before we got our salaries.
Figure 22. Mr and Mrs Mukhwana Obbuyi with one of their
dairy animals under semi-zero grazing management
Abate, A.1994. An assessment of the mineral supply to dairy cows fed
mixed diets. E. Afr. Agric. For J. 59: 235-240.
Abate, A. & Abate, A.N., 1991. Wet season feed supply to lactating
grade animals managed under different production systems. E. Afr. For.
Abate, A. Kayongo-Male, H., Abate, A.N. & Wachira, J.D., 1984.
Chemical composition, digestibility and intake of Kenyan feedstuffs
by ruminants: a review. Nutr. Abstr. Rev. 54:1-13.
Abdulrazak, S.A., Muinga,
R.W., Thorpe, W. and Orskov,1996. The effects of supplementation with
Gliricidia sepium or Leucaena leucocephala Forage on Intake,
Digestion and Live-Weight Gains of Bos taurus x Bos indicus
steers offered Napier grass. Anim. Sci. 63: 381-388.
Acland, J.D. 1971. East African Crops. Longman.
AFRC, 1992. Agricultural and food research council. Nutritive requirements
of ruminant livestock: Proteins. AFRIC technical committee on Response
to Nutrients. Report no. 9 Nutr. Abstr.Rev. 62: 787-835.
Anindo D.O. & Potter, H.L.1994. Seasonal variation in productivity
and nutritive value of Napier grass at Muguga, Kenya.
E. Afrc. Agric. For. J. 59:177-185.
Anindo D.O. & Potter,H.L. 1986. Milk production from Napier grass
(Pennisetum purpureum) in a zero grazing feeding system. E. Afri.Agrc.
Anon. 1985. Ministry of Livestock Development Annual Report. Nairobi,
Anon. 1987. Fertilizer Use Recommendation Project: Description of the
first priority sites in the various districts (Muranga District). Report
21. Ministry of Agriculture. National Laboratories, Kenya.
ARC.1980. Agricultural Research Council. The nutrient requirements
of ruminant livestock. CAB International,Wallingford, U.K . pp.351.
Arias, P.J. 1980. Some results with elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum)
in the north -central region of Venezuela.
Baltenweck I., Staal S.J., Owango M, Muriuki H., Lukuyu B., Gichungu
G., Kenyanjui M., Njubi D., Tanner J. & Thorpe W. 1998. Intesification
of dairy in the greater Nairobi milkshed: Spartral and household analysis.
Smallholder Dairy/Research and Development Project. MOA/KARI/ILRI Collaborative
Research report. (International Livestock Research Institute) Nairobi,Kenya.
Bayer W. 1990. Napier grass a promising fodder for smallholder livestock
production in the tropics. Plant Research and Development 31:103-111.
Beever, D.E.1997. Meeting the protein requirements of ruminant livestock.
S. Afri. J. Anim. Sci. 26:20-26
Benavides, J. 1986. Utilization of Erythrina poepiggiana
by diary goats in humid tropics. Proc Animal Production Association,
Arztec, Mexico. pp.192-210.
Bogdan, A.V.,1977. Tropical pastures and fodder plants. Longman, London.pp.475.
Bolsen,K.K.,1995.Silage: basic principles. In Barnes, R.F.,Miller,
D.A. and Nelson, C.J.(eds). Forages: the science of grassland agriculture
(volume II).Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, USA.
Boonman, J.G.1997. Farmers success with tropical grass: crop/pasture
rotation in mixed farming in East Africa. Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
The Hague. pp. 95.
Boonman, J.G., 1993.East Africa’s grasses and fodders: Their ecology
and husbandry. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dortrecht, Nethelands.pp.343.
Brown, D. & Chavulimu, E.1985. Effects of ensiling on five forage
species in Western Kenya: Zea mays (maize stover), Pennisetum
purpureum (Pakistan napier
grass), Pennisetum spp. (Bana grass), Ipomoea batatas
(sweet potato vines) and Cajanus cajan (pigeon pea leaves). Anim.
Feed Sci.Technol. 13:1-2.
Brandt, R.T. & Klopfenstein, T.J.1986. Evaluation of alfalfa-corn
cob associative action. 2.Comparative tests of alfalfa hay as a source
of ruminal degradable protein. J. Anim. Sci. 63: 902-910.
Buxton,D.R. & Mertens, D.R.1995.Quality related characteristics
of forages. In: Barnes, R.F., Miller,D.A. & Nelson, C.J. (eds).
Forages (Volume III).The science of grassland agriculture.Iowa State
University Press, Ames, Iowa, USA.pp.83-96.
Chaparro, C. & Sollenberger, L. E.1997. Nutritive value of clipped
mott elephant grass herbage. Agron.J.89:786-793.
Cuhna, P.G. and Silva, D.J.1997. Napier grass silage without concentrate
supplementation as the only feed for beef cattle in dry season. Cientifica
Devasena, B., Krishna,N., Prasad, J.R. & Reddy, D.V.1993.Chemical
composition and nutritive value of Brazilian Napier grass. Indian J.
D’Mello, J.P.F. & Devedra, C. 1995.Tropical legumes in animal nutrition.
CAB International, Wallingford, UK.
Dixon, R.M.,1984. Effect of various levels of molasses supplementation
on intake of mature Pennisetum purpureum forage by cattle.Trop.
Durand, M. & Kawashima, R. 1980. Influence of minerals in rumen
microbial digestion. In: Y. Ruckebusche & P. Thivend (eds). Digestive
physiology and metabolism in ruminants. MPT press, Lancaster,UK.pp.375-408.
Ferraris, R. & Sinclair, D.F. 1980. Factors affecting the growth
of Pennisetum purpureum in the wet tropics. II. Uniterrupted
growth. Aust. J. Agric. Res. 31:915-929.
Farrell G. 1998. Towards the management of Ustilago Kamerunensis
H. sydow and sydow, a smut pathogen of Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum
Schum.) in Kenya. Ph.D thesis,
University of Greenwich, pp 202.
Flores, J.A., Moore, J.E. & Sollenberger, L.E. 1993. Determinants
of forage quality in Pensacola bahia grass and mott elephant grass.
J. Anim. Sci. 71:1606-1614.
Gitau, G.K., McDermott, J.J., Adams, J.E., Lissemore & Walter-Toews,D.
1994. Factors influencing calf growth and daily weight gain on smallholder
dairy farms in Kiambu District, Kenya.
Prev. Vet. Med. 21:179-190.
Gohl, B., 1981. Tropical feeds. FAO, Rome. pp. 529.
Grant, R.J., Van Soest, P.J., McDowell, R.E. & Perez, C.B. 1974.
Intake, digestibility and metabolic loss of Napier grass by cattle and
buffaloes when fed wilted, chopped and whole. J. Anim. Sci. 39:423-434.
Hanna, W.W. & Gates, R.N. 1990. Plant breeding to improve forage
utilization. In: Akin, D.E., Ljung, L.G., Wilson, J.R. & Harris,
P.J. (Eds). Microbial and plant opportunities to improve lignocellulose
utilization by ruminants.Elsevier, Athens. pp. 197-204.
Hanna, W.W. & Monson, W. 1988. Registration of dwarf Napier grass
germplasm. Crop Sci. 28:870-871.
Harrison, R.E & Snook, L.C. 1971. The development of legume pastures
on hill country in the Philippines.
Rome, FAO Mission Report Misc. No. 17.
Henderson, G.R. & Preston, P.T. 1977. Fodder farming in Kenya.
East African Literature Bureau, Nairobi. pp. 149.
Humphreys, L.R. 1994. Tropical forages: Their role in sustainable agriculture.
Longman, Harlow, UK. pp. 414.
Hvelplund, T., 1985. Digestibility of rumen microbial protein and undegraded
dietary protein estimated in the small intestine of sheep and by in
sacco procedure. Acta Agric. Scand. (Supplement 25:132- 144).
Ibrahim, M.N.M., Tamminga., Tamminga, S. & Zemmelink, G., 1995.
Degradation of tropical roughages nd concentrate feeds in the rumen.
Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 54: 81-92.
INRA, 1988. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique. Ruminant
nutrition: recommended allowances and feed tables. Paris, France.
Jamnadass, R. 1999. PARD characterization of accession of Napier grass
(Pennisetum purpureum) from KARI. A collaborative pilot research
project ILRI/KARI/DFID. 1999-03-24 ILRI-KENYA.
Jatzold, R. & H.Schmidt. 1982. Farm Management Handbook of Kenya
GTZ/Ministry of Agriculture Nairobi.
Jumba, I.O., Suttle, N.F., Hunter, E.A. & Wandiga S.O. 1995a. Effects
of soil origin and mineral composition and herbage species on the mineral
composition of forages in the Mount Elgon region of Kenya.
1. Calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and sulphur. Trop. Grass. 29:40-46.
Jumba, I.O., Suttle, N.F., Hunter, E.A. & Wandiga S.O.1995b. Effects
of soil origin and mineral composition and herbage species on the mineral
composition of forages in the mount Elgon region of Kenya
2. Trace elements. Trop. Grassl. 29:47-52.
Karachi, M.K. 1982. The performance of sweet potato vines in Western
Kenya. E. Afr Agric.for. J. 47:60-67.
Kaitho, R.J., Tamminga, S. & Bruchem, J., 1993. Chemical composition
and nylon bag degradation of dried Calliandra calothyrsus leaves.
Anim. Feed Sci.Technol. 43:23-45.
Karanja, G.M. 1984. Effect of cutting height and frequency on tillering,
yield and nutritive value of four Napier grass varieties. MSc thesis,
University of Nairobi.
Kariuki, J.N., Gachuiri, C.K., Gitau, G.K, Tamminga, S. Van Bruchem,
J., Muia, J.M.K. & Irungu, K.R.G., 1998. Effect of feeding Napier
grass, lucerne and sweet potato vines as sole diets to dairy heifers
on nutrient intake, weight gain and rumen degradation. Live Prod. Sci.
Kariuki, J.N. 1989. Evaluation of two Napier grass (Pennisetum)
cultivars at different growth stages. MSc thesis, University of Nairobi.
Kennan, T.C.D. 1952. The Improved West African Napier fodders Rhod.
Agric J. 49:221-228
Kusewa P.K, Wanjala, B.M., Kamau R.I. & Kamau J.N. 1980. Growing
Bana grass with legume. Agricultural Research Station Kitale Annual
Report 1979 - pp. 49 - 52.
Legel, S., 1990. Tropical forage legumes and grasses. Karl Max University,
Berlin. pp. 80.
Lusweti F.N. G. Farrel, D.M. Mwangi & Scarr M.J. 1997. Head smut
of Napier grass. Proceedings of a workshop held at the National Agricultural
Research Laboratories on the 16th October 1997.
KARI/DFID Livestock Feeds Skills Group, NARC Muguga-Nairobi 22 p.
Mathura, M., Onim J.F.M., Fitzhugh, H.A. & Otieno K. 1985. Yield
and quality evaluation of potential forage grass in Western Kenya. Proceedings
of the fourth workshop of small ruminant collaborative research support
programme (SR-CRSP) Kakamega - March 1985, SR-CRSP. Nairobi, Kenya.
Manyuchi, B., Deb Hovel, F.D., Ndlovu, L.R., Topps, J.H. & Tigere,
A. 1996. Feeding Napier hay as supplement to sheep given poor quality
natural pasture hay: effects of level of Napier hay supplement and inclusion
of urea in the basal diet on intake and digestability. Anim. Feed Sci.
McMeniman, N.P., Elliot, R. and Ash, A.J. 1988. Supplementation of
rice straw with crop by-product. 1. legume straw supplementation. Anim.
Feed Sci.Technol. 19:43-53.
Minson, D.J. 1990. Forage in ruminant nutrition. Academic Press, San
Diego. pp. 483
Minson, D.J. & Mcleod, M.N. 1970. The digestibility of temperate
and tropical grasses. In Proc. XIth Int. Grassl. Congr.. Surfers Paradise,
Queensland, Australia. pp.
Minson, D.J. & Milford, R. 1976. Intake and crude protein content
of mature Digitaria decumbens and Medicago sativa. Aust.
J. Agric. Anim. Husb. 7:546-559.
Mislevy, P., Martin, F.C. & Adja, M.B.1989.Changes in elephant
grass plant components with maturity.II. Crude protein and digestibility.
In Proc. Xith Int. GrassI. Congr., Nice,France. pp. 841-842.
MLD, 1991. Ministry of Livestock Development. Zero Grazing: A Handbook
on technical aspects. Nairobi, Kenya.
Muinga, R.W., Topps, J.H., Rooke, J.A. & Thorpe, W. 1995. The effect
of supplementation with Leucaena leucocephala and maize bran
on voluntary food intake, digestability, live-weight and milk yield
of Bos indicus x Bos taurus dairy cows and rumen fermentation
in steers offered Pennisetum purpureum ad libitum in the semi-humid
tropics. Anim. Sci. 60:13-23.
Muinga, R.W., Thorpe, W. & Topps, J.H. 1993. Lactation performance
of Jersey cows given Napier fodder (Pennisetum purpureum) with
and without protein concentrates in the semi-humid tropics. Trop. Anim.
Hith. Prod. 25:118-128
Mureithi, J.G., Tayler, R.S. & Thorpe, W., 1995. Productivity of
alley farming with Leucaena leucocephala and Napier grass (Pennisetum
purpureum) in coastal lowland Kenya.
Agrofor. Sys. 31:59-78.
Mwakatundu, A.G. (1977). A study of the nutritive value of East African
pasture for ruminant livestock with special reference to mineral nutrition
in grazing cattle. PhD thesis, University of Nairobi.
Mwangi, D.M. & C. Wambugu. 2001. Forage legume technologies: Participatory
experiences with farmers and community-based organizations in Central
NARC, 1989. Nutrient requirement for dairy cattle. National Academy
of Sciences, Washinton, D.C.
NARS 1979a. Napier multiplication. National Agricultural Research Station
Kitale, Pasture Research Annual Report 1979 pp 19-20.
NARS 1979b. Bana Grass/Nitrogen/Legume Trial Kitale. Pasture Research
Annual Report 1979. pp 35-37.
Norton, B.W. & Poppi, D.P. 1995. Composition and nutritional attributes
of pasture legumes. In: D’Mello, J.P.F. & Devendra, C. (eds). Tropical
legumes in animal nutrition. CAB, Walling, UK.
Norton, B.W. 1981. Differences between species in forage quality. In:
Hacker, J.B. (Ed). Nutritional limits to animal production from pasture.
CAB, Farnham Royal, UK. pp.
Orodho, A.B. & S.Ajanga. 2002. Napier grass stunting disease in
Western Kenya: Disease identification and screening of local Napier
grass germplasm for resistance. A paper presented to the joint meeting
of KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) and Ministry of Agriculture
and Rural Development Senior Management. KARI Report. 14pp.
Orodho, A.B. 1990. Dissemination of Research technology on forages
and agricultural by-products in Kenya.
In: B.H. Dzowela, N.N Said, Asrat Webden-Agenehu & J.H. Kategile
(eds) Utilization of research results on forages and agricultural by-products
materials as animal feed resources in Africa. Proceedings of the first
joint workshop held in Lilongwe, Malawi 5-9 December 1998 by Pasture
Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (PANESA) and African Research
Network for Agricultural By-products (ARNAB).
Otieno K, Onim J.F.M. & Mathura, M.N. 1990. A gunny-bag ensiling
technique for small- scale farmers in Western Kenya. In: B.H. Dzowela,
AN. Said, Asrat Wedern- Agechu & Katagile J.N. (Eds). Utilization
of research results on forage and agricultural by-product materials
as animal feed resources in Africa. Proceedings of the first joint workshop
Pasture Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (PANESA) and African
Research Network for Agricultural by-products (ARNAB) held in Lilongwe
Malawi 5 - 9 Dec. 1988.
Peeler- E.J. & Omore A. 1997. Manual of livestock production systems
in Kenya, 2nd Edition.
KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research
Institute), Nairobi, Kenya.
Peterson, J.A., Belyea, L.A., Bowman, J.P., Kerley, M.S. & Williams
J.E. 1994. In: Fahey G.C. (ed). Forage quality, evaluation and utilization.
Amer. Soc. Agron. Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Potter H.L. 1987. Inventory of feed resources for smallholder farms
in Kenya. In: Proceedings of
the 2nd PANESA workshop IDRC (International Development Research
Centre) Nairobi, Kenya pp.
Reid, R.L., Post, A.J. & Mugerwa, J.S. 1973. Studies on the nutritional
qualityof grasses and legumes in Uganda.
I. Application of in vitro digestibility techniques to species
and stage of growth effects. Trop. Agric. (Trinidad). 50:1-15.
Ruiz, T,M., Sanchez, W.K., Staple, C.R. & Sollenberger, L.E. 1992.
Comparison of ‘Mott’ Dwarf Elephant grass Silage and Corn Silage for
Lactating Dairy Cows. J. Dairy Sci. 75:533-543.
Serra, S.D., Serra, A.B.T. & Fujihra T.1996. Amonut and distribution
of dietary minerals in selected Philippines
forage. Asian Aust. J. Anim. Sci 9:139-147.
Schreuder, R., Snijders, P.J.M. Wouters A.P., Steg, A. & Kariuki,
J.N.1993. Variation in OM digestibility, CP, Yield and ash content of
Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and their prediction from
chemical and environmental factor. Research report, National Animal
Husbandry Research Station, Naivasha Kenya
Skerman, P.J. & Riveros, F. 1990. Tropical Grasses. FAO, Rome.
Smith, P.N. & Orodho, A.B. 2000. Assessment of current needs and
researchable constraints of resource- poor households in high potential
production systems of Kenya.
A study report of DFID Natural Resources Systems Programme Project R
7407, October 1999-January 2000, 292 pp.
Sniffen, C.J., O’Connor, J.D, Van Soest, P.L. Fox, D.G. & Russel,
J.B. 1992. A net carbohydrate and protein system for evaluating cattle
diets. II.Carbohydrates and protein availability. J. Anim. Sci.70:3562-3577.
Snijders, P.J.M & Wouters, A.P.1990. Silage quality losses due
to ensiling of Napier grass, columbus grass and maize stover under smallholder
conditions. Research report, Naivasha Kenya.
Snijders, P.M.J., Muia, J.M.K. & Karuiki, J.N. 1992a. Effects of
chopping on drying rate of napier grass and lucerne. Research report,
Naivasha, Kenya pp.24.
Snijders, P.J.M Nahuis, A. Wekesa, F. & Wouter A.P. 1992b. Yield
and quality of Napier grass and green leaf Desmodium at two cutting
regimes. Research report, Naivasha Kenya.
Snijders, P.J.M, Orodho, A.B & Wouters, A.P. 1992. Efects of manure
application methods on yield and quality of Napier grass. National Animal
Husbandry Research Centre Naivasha Publication, Kenya
Agricultural Research Institute Kenya.
Sollenberger, L.E. & Jones ,C.S. 1989. Beef production
from N. fertilized mott. elephant grass. Trop.Grassl. 23:129-134.
Sotomayor, R.A. Torres, C.S., Quile, B.A. & Hanna, W.W. 1997. Agronomic
comparison of the taller Napier grass in Puerto Rico. J. Agric. (Puerto
Staal, S.J, Kruska, R., Balteweck, J., Kenyanjui, M., Wokobi, A., Njubi,
D., Thornton, P. & Thorpe W. 1999. Combined household and GIS analysis
of smallholder production systems. An application to intensifying smallholder
dairy systems approaches for Agricultural Development (SAAD-III) held
in Lima, Peru, 8-10 November
1999. National Agrarian University, La Molina, Lima, Peru.
Staal, S., Chege, L., Kenyanjui, M., Kimari, A., Lukuyu, B., Njubi,
D., Owango, M., Tanner, J., Thorp, W. & Wambugu, M. 1998. A cross-sectional
survey of Kiambu Distrrict for the identification of target groups of
smallholder dairy producers. KARI/ILRI collaborative project research
report, Nairobi, Kenya.
Stobbs,T.H. & Thompson, P.A.C, 1975. Milk production from tropical
pastures. World Anim. Rev.13:27- 31.
Stots, D.1983. Production techniques and economics of smallholder livestock
production systems in Kenya.
Farm Management Handbook of Kenya.
Ministry of Livestock Development, Nairobi, Kenya.
Suttie, J.M. 1965. Napier Grass. The Kenya
Farmer, June 1965.
Taminga, S., Van Straalen, W.M., Subnel, A.P.J., Meije, R.G.M., Steg,
A., Wever, C.J.G., & Blok, M.C. 1994. The Dutch protein evaluation
system : the DVE/OEB system. Live Prod. Sci. 40:139-155.
Thorpe, W., Muriuki, H.G., Omore, A., Owango, M.O. & Staal, S.
2000. Dairy development in Kenya.
The past, the present and the future. Paper presented at the annual
symposium of the Animal Production Society of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya,
22-23 March 2000.
Tiley, G.E.D. 1959. Elephant grass in Uganda.
Van Gastel,1978. Napier grass seed production. Kitale report.
Valk, Y.S. 1990. Review report of DEAF survey during 1989. Ministry
of Livestock Development, Nairobi, Kenya.
Van Eys, J.E., Mathuis, I.W., Pongsan, P. & Johnson, W.L. 1986.
Foliage of the tree legume gliricidia, leucaena and sesbania as supplements
to Napier grass diets for growing goats. J. Agric. Sc. (Camb) 1007:227-233.
Van Soest, P.J. 1994. Nutritional ecology of the ruminants. (2 nd
ed.) Cornell University Press. pp.476.
Vicente-Chandler, J., Abruna, F., Caro costas, R., Figarella, J., Silva,
S. & Pearson, R.W. 1974. Intensive grassland management in the humid
tropics of Puerto Rico, R.O. Pedras, Univ. Puerto Rico Agric. Exp. Sta.
Bull. No. 233.
Vicente-Chandler, J., Silva, S. & Figarella, J. 1959. The effect
of nitrogen fertilization and frequency of cutting on the yield and
composition of three tropical grasses. Agron. J. 51:202-206.
Wanjala, B.W.K., Wandera, J.L. & Gwayumba, W. 1983. Undersowing
Napier grass in maize crop, Kenya
National Agricultural Research Station ( NARS) Kitale Annual Report
1983. pp. 51-52.
Ware-Austin, W.D. 1963. Napier grass for milk production in Trans Nzoia
E. Africa Agric. For J. 28:223- 226.
Williams, M.J. & Hanna W.W. 1995. Performance and nutritive quality
of dwarf and semi-dwarf grass genotypes in south-eastern USA.
Woodard, K.R. & Prine, G.M. 1991. Forage yield and quality of elephant
grass as affected by harvesting frequency and genotype. Agron. J. 83:541-546.
Wouters,A.P. 1987. Dry matter yield and quality of Napier on farm level
1983-1986, Research Report, Ministry of Livestock Development, Nairobi
Kenya . pp. 39.
Whyte, R.D., Moir, T.R.G. & Cooper, J.P. 1959. Grasses in Agriculture.
FAO Agric. Studies 42.
Wijk, A.J.P. van 1977. The breeding of Napier grass (Pennisetum
purpureum Schumach.) Kitale report.
Yates, N.G. & Pangabean, T. 1988. The performance of goats offered
elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) with varied amounts of
Leucaena leucacephala. Trop. Grassl.22:126-131.
Yokota, H. & Ohshima, M. 1997. Silage quality of Napier grass (Pennisetum
purpureum) ensiled with rice bran. Anim. Sci. Technol. (Japan)
[Paper edited in January 2006]