EU - Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, in collaboration with Aarhus University in Denmark are working on a line of giant grass designed to reduce feed costs in the goat sector.
Its experimental farms have successfully used a variety of giant grass native to South America called maralfalfa (Pennisetum sp.) as a source of fodder to feed goats of the Murciano-Granadina breed - the main Spanish dairy goat breed.
The result has been to obtain the same amount of milk and the same chemical composition (fat, protein and lactose) which is obtained when the animals are fed alfalfa (Medicago sativa).
The key to the economic saving is in the increased production per hectare of giant grass that can be up to 300 per cent higher than the alfalfa.
Maralfalfa is a species that can be harvested up to 8 times a year for a period of 7 years. This grass can reach up to 5 metres high and have a yield of 60 tons of dry matter per hectare compared to 20 tons produced alfalfa. The maralfalfa presents great resistance to pests and diseases, which means chemical treatment of the crop can largely be avoided.
"In the dairy goat farms the livestock feed costs account for up to 80 per cent of total costs," said Ion Baena Pérez, researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. "Using foods that cheapen the daily ration of the animals is a necessary practice to ensure the viability of these farms."
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