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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Comparative chemical composition and rumen degradation of common reed and elephant grass in urban/peri-urban dairying systems in Uganda

Katongole, C. B.; Lumu, R.; Lindberg, J. E.


Urban/peri-urban dairying in East Africa used to be typified by elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum, Schumach) as the primary forage. However, the ever-declining space for farming has made forage cultivation increasingly difficult. As a coping strategy, farmers are harvesting vegetation biomass from natural environment, particularly common reed (Phragmites australis, Cav.) from wetlands. This study aimed to compare elephant grass and common reed in terms of chemical composition and in situ rumen degradation. Samples were collected (in dry and wet seasons) and analyzed for chemical composition, and in situ rumen degradation of dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) determined. Rumen degradation was determined by incubating triplicate nylon-bagged samples in rumens of three cannulated Ankole-Friesian crossbred steers. The CP content ranged from 10.8% to 16.2% DM (common reed), and 9.9-12.5% DM (elephant grass). Common reed showed lower DM, and ADF compositions, and higher effective rumen degradability of DM, CP, and NDF in both seasons. For both forages, CP content was higher during the dry season, while effective rumen degradability of DM, CP, and NDF were higher in the wet season. In summary, the chemical and rumen degradation results suggest that common reed may be nutritionally superior to elephant grass.


Cultivated forage; cut-and-carry; nutritional quality; perennial grass; urban; peri-urban dairying

Published in

Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Authors' information

Katongole, C. B.
Makerere University
Lumu, R.
Makerere University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers


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