Brachiaria Grass Farming in Kenya:A Guide to Sustainable Livestock Feed Production.

Brachiaria grass has emerged as a game-changer in livestock farming in Kenya due to its high nutritional value and adaptability to diverse climates. This grass, native to Africa is gaining popularity among farmers seeking sustainable and cost-effective solutions for animal feed production.

Brachiaria grass.

Climate and soil requirements.

Brachiaria grass is well adapted to a range of climates from tropical to subtropical climates.  It thrives in temperatures between 20-30 degrees Celsius. It is adapted to areas with moderate to high rainfall that is well-distributed and a full sunlight exposure. While it can tolerate various soil types, well drained soils with a slightly acidic to neutral pH are ideal for the growth of brachiaria grass.

Planting methods.

To kick start your brachiaria grass farming, begin by preparing a well-drained field with a good sunlight exposure and the optimal planting time being the rainy season. Conduct a soil test to assess nutrient levels and pH and then prepare the soil by ploughing to remove any weeds or debris present in the area of planting. Brachiaria grass can be planted from seeds, root splits. When planting from seeds, drill them in shallow furrows across the field and cover them lightly with soil or you can prepare them in a nursery bed then transplant them later. Planting from root splits is a cost-effective propagation method, it involves choosing a healthy brachiaria grass plant that is free from pests and diseases, then splitting it in to smaller sections with each section having a portion of the root system and then plant each of them. When planting ensure proper spacing to allow for healthy growth and a planting depth that allows the roots to be well-covered with the soil, preferably 5 to 10 cm below the soil. Watering during the initial stage is crucial for establishing a robust grass stand.

Maturity period.

Brachiaria grass typically exhibits rapid growth reaching maturity within a few weeks after planting. Its maturity can vary based on factors such as climate, soil conditions, specific species, or varieties. Early maturity is one of the factors that makes it an attractive option for farmers seeking a consistent and timely feed source for their livestock.


The first harvest typically occurs around 70-120 days after planting, depending on local conditions. The brachiaria should be harvested when the grass reaches a height of 40-50cm. You should cut the grass 5 cm above the ground level, leaving some stubbles for regrowth. Subsequent harvests can be carried out every 6-10weeks, promoting continuous forage availability.

Methods of feeding.

Brachiaria grass is a nutrient-rich feed option for livestock. During feeding, you can allow the animals to graze directly on the brachiaria grass or harvest the grass and feed it to the livestock on a different location. Grazing animals on brachiaria can significantly improve their health and productivity. Brachiaria grass increases the livestock productivity of meat and milk by around 20%. To maximize on the benefits of brachiaria grass, supplement the grass with additional feed sources like legumes and minerals. This balanced diet ensures that your animals receive the necessary nutrients for optimal growth.

Pests and diseases affecting brachiaria grass.

Brachiaria grass is susceptible to pests and diseases and isn’t immune to the challenges posed by them. It faces threats from pests and diseases which can undermine the health of the brachiaria stand, potentially affect the quality and quantity of the forage available for the livestock. Understanding the pests and diseases and the potential damage they can cause to your brachiaria stand is important for implementing management and control strategies. Some of the pests and diseases that affect brachiaria include.

1.    Rust diseases

They cause orange-brown pustules on the leaves, reducing the photosynthetic capacity of the plant. They can be controlled by various fungicides and avoidance of overhead irrigation. Overhead irrigation causes wetness on the leaves, and this risks a plant to the rust fungus that likes a wet surface. You can use drip irrigation or any other method that doesn’t splash water on the leaves.

2.    Leaf spot diseases

Leaf spot diseases cause circular spots with brown centres on the leaves. The best control for these diseases is spraying fungicides and properly spacing the plants to improve on the air circulation.

3.    Aphids

These pests cause curling and yellowing of leaves leading to stunted growth. The best method of controlling aphids on your brachiaria plant is use of insecticidal soaps.

Benefits of brachiaria grass to the animals.

Brachiaria grass offers a range of benefits to animals, making it a valuable forage and better choice for livestock. By incorporating brachiaria grass in to the diets of your animals, you will notice various changes that are advantageous to your livestock and to you as a farmer.

It is rich in essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals which promote the overall animal health and productivity.

Brachiaria supports muscle development and overall body condition leading to improved weight gain on the animals.

It enhances reproductive performance. The nutritional content of brachiaria grass positively influences reproduction in animals. Improved fertility, higher conception rates, and increased milk production are common benefits.

Sustained milk production in lactating animals. Brachiaria grass provides a continuous and reliable source of nutrition. Sustained milk production, benefits both diary and nursing animals.





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