Livestock production is a key economic activity in drylands all over the world. Drylands support a majority of the world’s livestock population. Local and indigenous communities in these areas have for long relied on experientially acquired knowledge passed down from one generation to the next for their survival. Tapping into this knowledge base could spur advancement of restoration and pasture production technologies that could ultimately help solve the problem of inadequate pasture for livestock production. Our study determined the nutritional value of ecotypes of Digitaria macroblephara; a grass species perceived by agro- pastoral communities in Southern Kenya to improve body condition and milk yield. The ecotypes were harvested at the onset of flowering, at full flowering and after seed maturity for analysis of % crude protein (CP), % Acid Detergent Fiber, % Neutral Detergent Fiber, % ether extract, In-sacco dry matter digestibility (ISDMD), and % lignin. Results showed significant differences in ecotype performance for the nutritional parameters tested at the various growth stages. The Oldonyonyoike ecotype recorded a significantly lower CP content at the onset of flowering. The Olptepesi ecotype had a significantly higher CP and ISDMD at full flowering. The Oldonyonyoike ecotype recorded a significantly higher ISDMD. These differences in performance at different stages of growth provide insight into the optimal timings of harvesting or grazing of these grass ecotypes. Further research looking into their resource use efficiency and tolerance to grazing should however be done so as to come up with a high performing pasture variety that is well adapted to the drylands.
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RUFORUM Working document series
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