Uses of Napier Grass or Elephant Grass for Cattle Feed

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What is Elephant Grass?

This is elephant grass

I’m sure everyone already knows what this elephant grass looks like. Because everywhere, we can find this type of grass.

This elephant grass is also known by the name of napier grass. Furthermore, in this article I will use both names. Because both are the same.

Elephant grass is widely used as animal feed. Especially for cows. If for a goat or sheep, it seems less suitable.

This is because the elephant grass leaves are stiff, hairy and it’s stems is hard enough. It looks as if it’s old like sugarcane. But in quality, this elephant grass is better than sugarcane.

The quality of this elephant grass is practically medium. The content of crude protein is not very high. It only ranges from 9 to 10% of its dry weight. [1]

The content of crude fiber is also high. It values between 26 – 40.5%. Thus, elephant grass is more suitable for large ruminants such as cow.

The productivity of elephant grass is also high. Per square meter, elephant grass can produce fresh forage of 2.14 kgs. [2] It is forage for elephant grass once harvest and without additional fertilization.

If the land area is 1000 m2, then multiplied it to 2,140 kg or 2.14 ton. Approximately, enough for how many cows?

If the land is one hectare, then the production of elephant grass forage is 21.4 tons.

The results obtained can be higher, if elephant grass cultivated in enough water and fertilizer. I will discuss it more detail in the next section.

This elephant grass is also good for dairy feed. Although the crude fiber is high and the protein is low.

The combination of elephant grass and rice straw can still produce as much as 11 liters of milk per day per head. [3]

But, the feed is not only elephant grass and rice straw, there is still concentrate feed that used.

Napier grass nutrient content

The nutritional content of forage especially the grass, can not be pegged with one value only. The value can vary greatly.

There are many decisive factors. For example is the age of harvest, soil fertility conditions, irrigation and fertilization.

Elephant grass that we get from the edge of the river, nutritional content can be different from the elephant grass that we can from the rice field.

From some data I have collected, the nutritional content of elephant grass is as follows.

Nutrient content of elephant grass

As I have explained above, the nutritional content of the elephant grass is not always like the one in the table above.

Its value is highly likely to vary.

For dry matter for example, the value can be between 12 – 18%. While crude fiber, its value can be from 26% – 40.5%.

Napier Grass production

From a study, elephant grass grown without using the fertilizer can produce as much as 22.1 tons per hectare. [2]

Although without fertilizer, it does not mean that planting it without treatment. Keep in mind that the weeds should not interfere.

In addition, the water requirement should also be sufficient.

If you want better results, you can provide fertilizer on elephant grass planting.

Fertilizer can use chemical or organic. If possible, you should use organic fertilizer only.

So, there will be continuity between cattle farming and forage cultivation.

Livestock waste is made of fertilizer and used for forage production. Then, forage back to feed the cows.

To make compost from cow dung, please visit and read the article below.

Make compost from cow dung with em4.

The elephant grass that is fertilized, can produce more forage. [2]

The fertilizer provided is a chemical fertilizer in the form of Urea, TSP and KCL. The comparison is 2: 1: 1.

The result, elephant grass fertilized with a dose of 100 kgs Urea, 50 kgs TSP and 50 kgs KCL, it’s forage production is as much as 2.87 kg / m2.

The amount is equivalent to 28.7 tons / hectare. The amount is 6.6 tons more than the unfertilized napier grass.

How if the amount of fertilizer propagated? Can the production be higher?

Not necessarily.

The ability of plants to absorb the nutrients there is a maximum limit. If given fertilizer with excess amount, which is absorbed only limited ability of plants.

Still in the same study, but the dose of fertilizer is propagated. The dose is increased to 200 kgs KCL, 100 kgs TSP and 100 kgs KCL.

The unit dose is in kg per hectare.

Apparently, the forage production from elephant grass is not higher than the first dose.

The amount is even slightly smaller, that is 2.84 kgs/m2 or 28.4 tons/hectare. [2]

Uh … right.

Napier grass planting methods

If you seriously want to grow elephant grass as a forage, it is better if the planting is done well.

Here is a good planting step to grow elephant grass.

The first thing to do is tillage, making beds, preparing the seeds, planting, fertilize and maintenance. [2]

Soil processing is to flipping through the soil. It can be hoeed, tractored or the other. If you want.

If you do not want it, it’s fine too. Immediately step the seeds that you want to plant on the ground.

This is to make the soil become loose and at the same time it can clean the roots of weed plants.

Making a bed for elephant grass planting. With this bed, then there is the distance between seeds.

If the distance is enough, sunlight will also be enough. In addition, the growth of new shoots also requires space to grow right?

Preparing the elephant grass seeds, should be the middle. The goal is that the seeds are not too old and not too young.

At a minimum, the seeds consist of 2 segments or 3 books. Cut the seeds tilted bro … let it easy to jab into the ground.

Planting seeds are spaced. Ideally, the spacing is 90 x 90 cm. If you want more narrow or wider also please. It’s up to you.

For fertilization, if there is a budget please do. If do not, skip this stage.

If you want to use chemical fertilizers, can using Urea, TSP and KCL. Urea as a source of nitrogen. Tsp as a source of Phosphorus and KCL as a source of Potassium.

The comparison between Urea: TSP: KCL is 2: 1: 1. If the urea is 100 kgs,  so the TSP and KCL are 50 kgs each.

The maintenance of elephant grass is simple. At most only watering, if there is water for watering. When the rainy season do not need watering.

In addition, pull up weeds, so as not to fight nutrients with elephant grass. Every few months, loosening the soil is done.

Harvest of elephant grass can be started at 45 days after planting. If you are patient please harvest at age 60 days, 90 days or 120 days.

If the harvest is young, the nutritional content is quite high. While the harvest of old age, nutritional content decreased but the number of forages obtained is more.

How to fertilize elephant grass

Giving fertilizer to elephant grass unlike in rice plants. In rice plants, fertilizer is given by spread evenly. This is because rice is planted at a very tight distance.

If you want to grow elephant grass like planting rice, just please. But is that possible?

Possibly, if you plant it like this. Seeds are plugged into the ground. After that, let alone grow by itself. Later, a few weeks later just seen and harvested.

Whether the elephant grass will grow or not, it is important to plant it can be tight and can be a lot.

However, if the spacing is quite tenuous, fertilization can not be spread just like that. Later, nutrients from fertilizers can not be absorbed perfectly by plants.

Fertilization should be placed near plant roots.

In order for each plant to get the same piece, I will show you how to calculate it.

However, we must know how many fertilizer doses are recommended. In addition, the area of land and the number of plants in the field should be known.

Ok. Suppose the dose of fertilizer is 100 kgs / hectare. The land area is 1000 square meters and the number of plants is 110 plants.

How many kg of fertilizer given per plant?

how to calculate the ferilizer needed by napier grass

So like that. Per seed of elephant grass is given 0.091 kg of fertilizer or 91 grams. Almost 1 ounce.

Suppose there are 3 fertilizers, then the number of each is calculated. So, later each elephant grass seed obtained Urea, KCL and TSP with the amount according to the calculation.

Elephant grass for diary cows

If for dairy cows, the feed should be qualified. The protein content must be high. Elephant grass alone will not be enough.

Therefore, giving elephant grass should be added with other feed, such as concentrate.

If with additional of concentrates, the comparison between elephant grass and concentrate can be 60:40.

From the research that has been done, the feed like that, dairy cows can produce milk about 5 liters / head / day. [1]

If you want better, elephant grass can be added with other ingredients such as tofu dregs, concentrates and rice straw.

In different studies using elephant grass and other such ingridients. [3]

Feed ingredients are elephant grass, rice straw, tofu dregs and concentrates.

Per cows, the amount of feed is 6 kgs of elephant grass, 6 kgs of rice straw 12.5 kgs concentrate and 9 kgs of tofu dregs.[3]

With such feed, dairy cows can produce average milk to 10 – 11 liters / head every day.


[1] Novianti, J, B.P. Purwanto; A. Atabany. Efficiency of milk production and Digestibility of Elephant Grass (Pennisetum purpureum) In Dairy Cow FH with Different Size Cutting. Journal of Animal Production and Technology Science Vol. 02 No. 1, January 2014.

[2] Daniel Yohanis Seseray, Budi Santoso and Marlyn Nelce Lekitoo. Production of Elephant Grass (Pennisetum purpureum) Given N, P and K Fertilizers with Dosages of 0, 50 and 100% in the 45th Day Devoliation. Animal Science Vol. 11 (1), March 2013: 49-55.

[3] Mariyono and Atien Priyanti. Efficiency of Rice Straw vs Elephant Grass Against Milk Production and Dairy Farmers Income. National Semiloka Prospect of Dairy Cattle Industry Towards Free Trade – 2020.

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