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Brachiaria (Brachiaria lata)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Brachiaria [International]; koyo [Burkina Faso]


Urochloa lata (Schumach.) C. E. Hubb. (USDA, 2019)

Taxonomic information 

Many Brachiaria species have been placed by some authors in the Urochloa genus, so the taxon Urochloa lata is often considered as the correct. However, these changes remain disputed and some recent papers still refer to Brachiaria lata (Torres González et al., 2005).


Brachiaria lata (Schumach.) C. E. Hubb. is a fast growing annual grass distributed across the Sahel. It is reported to be an excellent fodder for all livestock as well as weed in cultivated crops. The seeds are used as food in some countries.


Brachiaria lata is a annual, tufted, erect or geniculately ascending grass that grows to a height of 30-150 cm. It can root from its lower nodes. Its culms are coarse with pubescent nodes. The leaf blade is coarse, broadly rounded, or cordate at the base, lanceolate in shape,  6–12 cm in length and 8–24 mm in width. The inflorescence is composed of 5-30 racemes, unilaterally and closely spaced along the 1-12 cm central axis. The racemes are simple or secondary branched, 2-8 cm long. The seeds are dressed in glumes (Clayton et al., 2006; Burkill, 1985).


Brachiaria lata has long been mentioned as an excellent forage for ruminants and equids (Adam, 1954). It is mainly used as fodder and palatable to cattle and sheep. It is cut and sold as hay on West African markets (Burkill, 1985; Asiedu et al., 1978). In Burkina Faso, Brachiaria lata is one of five grassland species (with Andropogon gayanus, Panicum anabaptistum, Pennisetum pedicellatum, and Andropogon pseudapricus) known for their palatability (Kaboré-Zoungrana et al., 1999). In Senegal, it has been introduced to produce fodder for small ruminants (Bayala et al., 2014). Its seeds are used for human consumption in Nigeria (Burkill, 1985). In Burkina Faso, seeds of Brachiaria lata (called koyo) have been used as famine food (Millogo-Rasolodimby, 1996).


Brachiaria lata is found in the Sahelian area from Mauritania to Nigeria, and in Ethiopia and Arabia. It has been reported in India. In Burkina Faso, Brachiara lata is found on lowland, highland and hilly pastures (Kaboré-Zoungrana et al., 1999). Brachiara lata is shade species: it has been reported to grown specifically under Acacia raddiana (Grouzis et al., 2006) and under trees in plantations (mango) (Asiedu et al., 1978). It is a weed of cultivated crops such as sorghum, rice, or peanut (Asiedu et al., 1978). Brachiaria lata is found on disturbed soil. In the savannah, the presence of Brachiaria lata is particularly high after fire in burned zones (Oyedeji et al., 2016).

Forage management 

In North-East Nigeria, Brachiaria lata is one of the earliest grasses in the season (Burkill, 1985). In the Sinnar State of Sudan, yields of 0.66-0.88 t/ha DM (1.25-1.61 t/ha fresh) have been reported, and were the highest of 4 species (Cenchrus ciliaris, Zornia glochidiata, Rhynchosia minima) (Abusuwar et al., 2010).

Environmental impact 

Soil fertility indicator

Brachiaria lata is considered as an indicator of soil fertility by farmers in Niger (Hayashi et al., 2013).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Brachiaria lata has a rather wide range of nutritive value depending on the stage of maturity: the protein content can be relatively high in the young plant (> 13% DM) and decrease down to 2% DM in the mature plant (Kaboré-Zoungrana, 1995). Still, a study in Burkina Faso found it to be one of the most nutritive grasses when compared to Pennisetum pedicellatum, Andropogon pseudapricus, Panicum anabaptistum and Andropogon gayanus (Kaboré-Zoungrana et al., 1999).


Brachiaria lata provides excellent fodder for all livestock, and is cut and bundled for sale in West African markets, or is cut for storage as hay (Burkill, 1985). It is cited in several African countries as one of the most preferred and selected grass species. In Northern Senegal, Brachiaria lata was among the six forages (trees and grasses) preferred by Sahel goats grazing on natural pasture (Cissé et al., 2002). In Ivory Coast, a survey of the hays provided to sheep sold in urban markets found that Brachiaria lata was among the six most consumed species out of 97 species. In Western Tigray (Ethiopia), Brachiaria lata was reported to be one of the most palatable grasses of rangeland (Gebrekiros et al., 2018). Brachiaria lata is much valued in Sudan as a palatable cattle feed (Burkill, 1985).


As of July 2019, trials about the utilization of Brachiaria lata for ruminant feeding are extremely scarce. In Northern Burkina Faso, the feeding value of Brachiaria lata hay has been studied in Djallonké sheep, and compared to that of four other grass species from this region (Pennisetum pedicellatum, Andropogon pseudapricus, Panicum anabaptistum and Andropogon gayanus). The protein and energy values of the brachiaria hay were higher than those of the other hays. At the same phenological stage, Brachiaria lata hay had a higher protein content (12-13% DM), in vivo OM digestibility (68%  at the stem elongation stage), and voluntary DM intake (108 g DM/kg LW0.75). At heading stage, its in vivo OM digestibility and voluntary intake were still relatively high and greater than those of other hays (61 vs. 43 to 58% for OM digestibility, 98 vs. 32 to 60 g DM/kg LW0.75 for voluntary intake). Brachiaria lata hay contained lower fibre and its fibre was more digestible, leading to lower indigestible fibre concentration and thus greater OM digestibility. It was concluded that, up to the heading stage, Brachiaria lata hay fed alone could fully support the energy and protein requirements for maintenance in sheep (Kaboré-Zoungrana et al., 1999).



No information seems available in the international literature on the use of Brachiaria lata as forage in rabbit feeding (June 2019). As noted above, Brachiaria lata is described as a good fodder for all types of herbivore livestock. Since other Brachiaria species such as Brachiaria decumbens, B. ruziziensis, B. mutica or B. brizantha are commonly used to feed rabbits, mainly as a source of fibre, Brachiaria lata could be considered as a potential source of fibrous forage for rabbits, but experiments would be necessary before extensive recommendation. One important point to be taken into account is the large variations of its protein content according to the vegetative stage of the plant.


No information seems available in the international literature on the use of Brachiaria lata grains in rabbit feeding. However, the grains are safely consumed by humans in some African countries, and livestock grazing mature Brachiaria lata seem to ingest without problems an appreciable proportion of grains. It can thus be considered that Brachiaria lata grains are suitable to feed rabbits, even though some direct experiments would be welcome.

Horses and donkeys 

Brachiaria lata has been cited as an excellent fodder for equids (Adam, 1954).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 41.2 19.5 20.3 79 9  
Crude protein % DM 7.5 5.1 2 14.5 10  
Crude fibre % DM 33.1 3.9 26.5 38.6 11  
Ether extract % DM 2.3   2 2.7 3  
Ash % DM 11.4 1.9 9.3 15.9 13  
Insoluble ash % DM 5   0.4 8.2 3  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 68.3         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 38.7 1.9 35 40.5 6 *
Lignin % DM 5.1 1 3.2 5.5 6 *
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.6         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 5.3 1.1 3.9 7.2 9  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.1 2.7 1.6 9.1 12  
Magnesium g/kg DM 4.8   4.2 6 3  
Potassium g/kg DM 31.7 7.3 21 44 9  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.04       1  
Manganese mg/kg DM 64       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 31       1  
Copper mg/kg DM 5       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 434       1  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.2         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.3         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 57.8         *
OM digestibility, ruminants % 60.4         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Abusuwar et al., 2010; CIRAD, 1991; Kaboré-Zoungrana, 1995

Last updated on 22/07/2019 17:58:26

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Delagarde R., Lebas F., 2019. Brachiaria (Brachiaria lata). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/24960 Last updated on July 23, 2019, 1:28