The net energy values for growth and fattening of two artificially dried tropical grasses-, pangola (Digitaria decumbens) and setaria (S. sphacelata var. sericea cv. Nandi), of similar estimated metabolizable energy content (8·07 and 7·96 MJ/kg D.M.) were determined with cattle using a slaughter technique. Growing cattle with a mean initial weight of 175 kg were given equal quantities of dry matter of the two grasses at each of three planes of nutrition above maintenance for a period of 152 days.
The initial energy, fat and protein content of the total body of the 24 test animals was estimated from regressions relating fasted live weight to theśe components, derived from 12 similar cattle slaughtered at the beginning of the feeding period. The final energy, fat and protein content of the test animals was determined directly by chemical analysis. The metabolizable energy (ME) content of the grasses was estimated from the level of digestible energy (DE) determined with eight cattle, assuming that ME = 0·815 DE.
The cattle fed pangola gained more live weight, empty-body weight, fat, protein and energy than animals fed similar quantities of setaria. The net energy value for growth and fattening (NEf) was determined using regressions relating energy retention to the quantity of dry matter eaten. NEf in MJ/kg dry matter was 2·27 for pangola and 1·31 for setaria.
Efficiency of utilization of ME for growth and fattening (kf) was.27·7% for pangola and 16·9% for setaria. These values for tropical grasses are lower than any values reported for temperate pasture species. Thus the lower efficiency of utilization of ME may cause the lower production of cattle which graze tropical grasses.
It was concluded that as the kf values of different tropical grasses are not constant, kf values should be measured on a wider range of tropical grasses so that this factor can be taken into account when evaluating grasses in animal production systems.