Animal feed resources information system

Cockspur grass (Echinochloa crusgalli) grain

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Barnyard grass, barnyard millet, barn grass, billion dollar grass, chicken panic grass, cocksfoot panicum, cockspur, cockspur grass, German grass, Japanese millet, panic grass, water grass, wild millet [English]; bourgon, crête de coq, echinochloa pied-de-coq, ergot de coq, millard, millet du Japon, panic, panic pied-de-coq, panic des marais, panisse, patte de poule, pied de coq [French]; gewöhnliche Hühnerhirse, Hühnerhirse [German]; giavone comune [Italian]; canarana; capim-andrequicé, capim-capivara, capim-quicé, milha-maior, milha-pe-de-galo [Portuguese]; arrocilla, arrocillo, arroz silvestre, cola de caballo, cresta gallo, grama de agua, gramilla, gramilla de rastrojo, hualcacho, jaraz fina, mijo japonés, pagarropa, panicello, pasto colorado, pasto rayado, pata o pie de gallina, pierna o o pata de gallo, zacate de agua [Spanish]; padi burung, dwajan [Indonesian]; song chang [Vietnamese]


Echinochloa crus-galli subsp. spiralis (Vasinger) Tzvelev, Echinochloa crus-galli var. edulis Hitchc., Echinochloa crus-galli var. mitis (Pursh) Peterm., Echinochloa spiralis Vasinger, Panicum crus-galli L. (basionym), Panicum crus-galli var. mite Pursh


Cockspur grass (Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) P. Beauv.) is a tall, robust, tufted, quick growing annual grass that is cultivated in the tropics and subtropics for grain. It can be grazed before being harvested for grain. Cockspur grass may be cultivated for grass and is then preferably used green. It is suited to make silage but is too succulent for easy haymaking. Cockspur is mainly considered a weed in cash crops like rice or maize but it can also be used for soil reclamation.


Cockspur grass is a tall, robust, and tufted annual grass growing up to a height of 60-120 cm. It has stout culms, geniculate at the base and then erect. It has a fibrous root system but no rhizome. The leaves are linear, very acute at the apex, leaf-blades are up to 65 cm long x 5-30 mm wide, usually glabrous, occasionally sparsely hirsute. The inflorescence is 5-25 cm long, erect, densely flowered and hairy. It forms a drooping and racemose panicle. The primary racemes are 1.5-10 cm long, erect to spreading, purplish in colour (Quattrocchi, 2006). There may be secondary branches. The spikelets are 2.5-4 mm long, 1.1-2.3 mm wide, disarticulating at maturity, and they can be awned. The seeds are ovoid or oblong caryopses, 1.3-2.2 mm long x 1-1.8 mm wide, brownish in colour (SEINet, 2017; Quattrocchi, 2006). The seeds remain enclosed in the hulls after threshing. 

Echinochloa crus-galli is taller than other members of theEchinochloa genus such as Echinochloa colona. It has wider leaf-blades and longer inflorescences (SEINet, 2017).


Echinochloa crus-galli is a dual purpose grass that can be grown for grain as a cereal or  for forage (see Cockspur grass forage datasheet) though, as a pasture species, it has fair to poor value for livestock. Cockspur grass can be ensiled and less easily made into hay. Cockspur young shoots are edible, raw or cooked. Cockspur grass provides habitat to wildlife, and seeds to birds. Cockspur grass can help reclaiming saline and alkaline soils. In ethnomedicine, it has been used to cure spleen dieseases (Quattrocchi, 2006).

When grown as a cereal, winnowed cockspur grass seeds are used as a staple grain,parched, roasted, boiled, ground into flour. They can also be popped like popcorn. In Japan the seeds are used to make macaroni and dumplings. Seeds are roasted and used as a coffee substitute (Deane, 2020 www.eattheweeds.com).


Cockspur grass (Echinochloa crus-galli) is native to Eurasia. It has been introduced into many countries for its potential as forage and is now widespread worldwide in tropical, subtropical and temperate areas, from 50°N to 40°S (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2014). Cockspur grass is found from boreal moist to wet areas, and from tropical very dry to wet forest (Duke, 1983). It is mainly found in moist disturbed and degraded places like swamps, ponds and depressions or temporarily flooded palustrine wetlands, and seasonnally wet habitats. It is often seen around wet meadows, rice fields and along ditches, lakeshores and river banks (Quattrocchi, 2006). It can be found at elevations between sea level and 2500 m. It is well adapted to hot and wet conditions (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2014). Echinochloa crus-galli grows in places where annual precipitation ranges from 310 mm to 2500 mm, and where annual temperatures vary between 5.7 and 27.8°C (Duke, 1983). It can still grow in cooler areas, but does better where average annual temperatures are between 14°C and 16°C (Duke, 1983). Cockspur grass grows on poorly drained or flooded soils like silts and clays. It can grow in brackish water since it has tolerance of saline and alkaline soils, withstanding soil pH 4.8 to 8.2. It cannot stand shade and severe drought (Ecocrop, 2017; Duke, 1983). Cockspur grass is killed by fire but the seeds burried in the soil may benefit from fires to germinate (Esser, 1994).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Millets are relished by all kinds of livestock. As the seeds are hard, they should be ground or crushed before being fed to cattle and hogs; however, whole seeds or unthreshed bundles can be fed to poultry, although whole seeds are about 5% less digestible for poultry than ground seeds are.
If maize is available, a mixture of millet and maize generally performs better in pigs and poultry diets than either alone. Millet not merely improves weight gains and feed conversion, but also tends to produce a whiter, firmer fat in pigs than is obtained with maize alone. When millet is the only grain used for feeding, the performance is generally somewhat lower than with maize, for instance.

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 90.7 1
Crude protein % DM 8.4 1
Crude fibre % DM 5.9 1
Ether extract % DM 3.6 1
Ash % DM 6.0 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.7 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 1.1 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.5 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 82.0 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 80.8 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 14.3 *

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


Vargas et al., 1965

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:44:00

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/720 Last updated on June 19, 2020, 18:04

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