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EFFECT OF HARVESTING STAGE AND ALTITUDE ON AGRONOMIC AND QUALITIES OF SIX Brachiaria GRASS IN NORTHWESTERN ETHIOPIA

Published in AgroLife Scientific Journal, Volume 8, Number 1
Written by Wubetie ADNEW, Berhanu A. TSEGAY, Asaminew TASSEW, Bimrew ASMARE

Inadequate quantity and quality of feeds is the major constraints to livestock production in majority of smallholder farms in Ethiopia. A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of altitude and harvesting stages on productivity and quality of 6 (six) Brachiaria grasses (1 hybrid, 2 cultivars and 3 ecotypes) in northwestern Ethiopia. A factorial arrangement of treatments was employed with a combination of three altitudes and three harvesting stages. The data collected consisted of plant height (PH), number of tillers, number and length of leaves and fresh yield. Moreover, the forage was analyzed for dry matter content and yield, ash, crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and acid detergent lignin. All data were subjected to analysis of variance procedures, with significance test at P<0.05. Results indicated that the highest plant height (PH) was recorded in all sites (low, mid- and high altitudes) by La Libertad cultivar (cv.) followed by Mulato II (low and high altitudes) and Eth. 13726 ecotype (mid altitude). The highest number of tiller per plant (NTPP) was recorded in all sites by Mulato II followed by La Libertad. The highest DM yield was recorded by Mulato II at all altitudes, which was followed by Marandu at low and mid altitudes and in high altitude by La Libertad. There was significant difference (P>0.05) in dry matter yield (DMY) with increasing harvesting dates for all six grasses except La Libertad at high altitude. CP content declined with increased harvesting date in all studied Brachiaria grasses in all study sites. Although all six grasses had potential as an alternative ruminant feed in all altitude areas in Ethiopia, highest DMY and CP and lowest NDF and ADF concentrations were recorded by Mulato II. Thus, among the tested Brachiaria grasses Mulato II showed outstanding potential as a forage plant especially at low altitude area of northwestern Ethiopia which could be used as potential feed for ruminant livestock. However, further study on feed value of Mulato II using suitable experimental animals is recommended.

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