Peiretti, 2009. Livest. Res. Rural Dev., 21 (12):
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), which is grown as a high-quality forage crop for dairy cattle and dairy sheep in Mediterranean conditions, has been studied to determine the chemical composition, in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD), gross energy (GE) and fatty acid (FA) profile of the plant during growth.
Herbage samples were collected five times at progressive morphological stages from the late vegetative to the early flower stage. The dry matter, organic matter, fibrous fractions and GE content increased with increasing growth stage, while the ash, crude protein and IVOMD decreased during growth. Linoleic and α-linolenic acid were the two main FAs in the safflower plant during the growth cycle and they ranged from 158 to 188 g/kg and 521 to 586 g/kg of the total FA, respectively.
The quality and IVOMD of safflower, like other forages, depends on the development of the plant and decreases with increased maturity. A forage with a good nutritive value can be obtained by harvesting safflower at the early flowering stage.