Effects of Desmodium, Sesbania and Calliandra Supplementation on Growth of Dairy Heifers Fed Napier Grass Basal Diet

  • Kaitho, R.J. (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, National Animal Husbandry Research Centre) ;
  • Kariuki, J.N. (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, National Animal Husbandry Research Centre)
  • Received : 1997.07.14
  • Accepted : 1998.05.14
  • Published : 1998.12.01


The effect of feeding heifers young Napier grass (7-weeks regrowth) or old Napier (16-weeks regrowth) supplemented with either wilted Desmodium intortum, Sesbania sesban or dried Calliandra calothyrsus leaves on intake and live weight changes was evaluated in a 67-day trial. Thirty-two Friesian heifers with an average live weight of 271 kg and 16.8 months old were randomly allocated to the four diets. The diets were either ad libitum young Napier grass or old Napier grass supplemented with 25% of either Sesbania, Desmodium or Calliandra. There was significant difference in chemical composition between the young and old Napier grass. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed on intake of dry matter, organic matter, crude protein and neutral detergent fibre. The total dry matter intake was 2.77, 2.86, 2.62 kg/100 kg live weight (LW) for Desmodium, Calliandra and Sesbania supplemented diets, respectively. A dry matter intake of 3.11 kg/100 kg LW was observed on the heifers fed young Napier grass. The mean daily gains were 638, 732, 606, and 1,001 g/day for Desmodium, Calliandra, Sesbania supplemented and young Napier grass diets respectively. Low level supplementation rate (1-1.5 kg DM/day) was adequate to maintain good growth rate when the heifers were fed old Napier grass.