Wild scrobic forage is palatable at all stages and is readily eaten by cattle and buffaloes (Quattrocchi, 2006; Galinato et al., 1999). In Ghana, it was reported to be one of the most heavily grazed herbage species for cattle, sheep and goats (Tetteh, 1974).
Composition and digestibility
In Australia, the nutritive value of wild scrobic was found to be highly variable throughout the year. It was readily eaten and highly digestible up to flowering (70-75% DM digestibility and 50-70% crude protein digestibility). After frosting, intake and digestibility decreased substantially: DM digestibility was down to 30% and crude protein digestibility became negative (Milford, 1960). In Bangladesh, an intermediate OM digestibility of 54% was recorded (Zaharaby et al., 2001). Protein content was very low in Australia (2.8 to 7.3% DM) (Milford, 1960), but higher (11.7% DM) in Bangladesh (Zaharaby et al., 2001).
Scrobic pastures have been particularly studied in the context of beef cattle production in Australia, where it is able to support production during summer (December to March). Due to its high frost susceptibility, scrobic is unsuitable for continuously grazed pastures in areas where severe frosts are recorded, but it can be valuable in frost-free areas and can be a very useful subtropical pasture grass (Milford, 1960). For beef cattle, scrobic has a nutritive value similar to that of pangola grass (Digitaria eriantha) but more variable. At a stocking rate of 1.67 head/ha, scrobic pasture resulted in a live-weight gain of 240 kg/ha/year in young beef cattle, slightly lower than with pangola and much lower than with Paspalum dilatatum (315 kg/ha/year). At a higher stocking rate (2.5 head/ha), scrobic supported higher performances than pangola grass, Paspalum dilatatum and Paspalum plicatulum (345 vs. 305, 246 and 223 kg/ha/year respectively) (Bryan, 1968). When grazed as a component of a sown complex pasture mixture, light stocking rates (about 1.7 head/ha) were preferable (Bryan et al., 1973).
Pure scrobic pastures supported much higher stocking rates for sheep (more than 40 sheep/ha for 4 months) than liverseed grass (Urochloa panicoides), Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus) and Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) (Paltridge, 1955).
Silage and hay
In Panama, scrobic made good silage when 10% molasses was added (Medling, 1972), and it also made excellent hay (Paltridge, 1955).
Scrobic straw is low in protein (lower than 4% DM) (Patel et al., 1959). Intake of scrobic straw by dairy cows (8.5 g/kg W) was found to be intermediate between that of wheat straw (7.7 g/kg W) and rice straw (10.6 g/kg W). Its organic matter digestibility (55.9%) was lower than for the other straws (wheat: 62.5%; rice: 66.2%) and a negative nitrogen balance was observed. Protein supplementation was recommended (Patel et al., 1961).