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Smut grass (Sporobolus indicus)


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

Smut grass, smutgrass, wire grass (Sporobolus indicus var. indicus), dropseed (Sporobolus indicus var. flaccidus), rat's tail grass, Parramatta grass, tufty grass (Sporobolus indicus var. capensis), whorled dropseed, West Indian dropseed (Sporobolus indicus var. pyramidalis) [English]; capim cortezia, capim lucas, capim mourão, capim toucerinha [Portuguese]


Agrostis africana Poir., Agrostis capensis Willd., Agrostis diandra Retz., Agrostis fertilis Steud., Agrostis indica L., Sporobolus africanus (Poir.) Robyns & Tournay, Sporobolus berteroanus (Trin.) Hitchc. & Chase, Sporobolus capensis Kunth, Sporobolus diandrus (Retz.) P. Beauv., Sporobolus elongatus var. purpureosuffusus Ohwi, Sporobolus fertilis (Steud.) Clayton, Sporobolus jacquemontii Kunth, Sporobolus poiretii auct., Sporobolus pyramidalis P. Beauv., Sporobolus tenacissimus auct., Vilfa berteroana Trin.

Related feed(s) 

Smut grass (Sporobolus indicus (L.) R. Br.) is a typical prairie and savannah grass, but occurs in other open habitats in warmer climates. It is generally considered to be an inferior pasture species, as evidenced by names like "poverty grass" or smut grass. Total Sporobolus indicus biomass keeps increasing under continuous grazing (Hidalgo et al., 1991). Sporobolus indicus seeds have been used as famine food in Ethiopia.


Sporobolus indicus is a native of eastern, southern and tropical Africa. It is widespread in almost every tropical and warm-temperate region in Europe, America and Asia. It is naturalized in Australia, New Zealand, the Azores and Hawaii (USDA, 2009). It often grows in disturbed and open areas, such as roadsides, pastures and lake shores (Peterson et al., 2003).

Environmental impact 

It is considered as a weed and invasive species in Australia and North and Central America.

Nutritional aspects
Potential constraints 

The tough fibrous nature of Sporobolus indicus causes loosening of teeth in horses and cattle grazing this species (Parsons et al., 2001).


In Cuba, buffaloes fed on grazed pasture diet containing 10% Sporobolus indicus, 22.7% Paspalum virgatum, 18% Paspalum notatum, 21% Dichanthium caricosum, 21.5% Cynodon nlemfuensis and 5.9% native legumes had satisfactory weights at slaughter, carcass yield and meat quality (Fundora et al., 2004).

In Australia, Hereford steers fed on poor Sporobolus indicus grassland and supplemented with urea produced good results, demonstrating that N supplementation could help in utilizing this invasive species (Mears et al., 1996).

Goats find smut grass palatable and are used to control the species in Australia (Holst et al., 2001).

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 41.4 12.7 29.6 64.8 6
Crude protein % DM 7.6 3.5 3.2 14.3 9
Crude fibre % DM 32.9 5.8 26.8 41.6 9
NDF % DM 68.2 *
ADF % DM 38.5 *
Lignin % DM 5.0 *
Ether extract % DM 1.3 0.6 0.8 1.9 4
Ash % DM 8.2 2.3 3.5 11.4 9
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.0 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 2.5 0.2 2.3 2.7 3
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.9 0.2 1.7 2.0 3
Potassium g/kg DM 7.9 1
Sodium g/kg DM 0.1 1
Magnesium g/kg DM 1.3 1
Manganese mg/kg DM 106 1
Zinc mg/kg DM 29 1
Copper mg/kg DM 7 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 63.5 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 60.7 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.0 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.9 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 38.5 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 6.9 *

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


CIRAD, 1991; Dougall et al., 1958; Sen et al., 1965

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:12

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 91.1 1
Crude protein % DM 10.0 1
Crude fibre % DM 34.4 1
NDF % DM 69.6 *
ADF % DM 40.2 *
Lignin % DM 5.4 *
Ether extract % DM 1.9 1
Ash % DM 9.0 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.2 *
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 59.9 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 56.5 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.3 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.3 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 43.6 1

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


Walker, 1975

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:12

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., 2015. Smut grass (Sporobolus indicus). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/371 Last updated on October 7, 2015, 13:55

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)