In 1999 85 % of the milk and milk products consumed in Sri Lanka were imported at a cost of over 7000 m rupees. While this appears to offer a major opportunity for the national herd to improve production, indiscriminate deforestation, reduction of farm size and increased use of agricultural land for crop production has tended to depress both cattle numbers and production. Poor nutritional status of the animals is the major limiting constraint, caused by the inadequate supply of quality feedstuffs and confounded by the lack of advice from the poorly supported agricultural extension service. In addition little detailed information exists concerning the nutritive value of the majority of Sri Lankan feeds. Three in vitro techniques – the Minson and McLeod (1972) version of Tilley and Terry (T&T), the modified ANKOM (ANK) batch culture technique (Mould and Nordheim, 1998) and the RPT methodology (Mauricio et al., 1999) were compared in an effort to identify a suitable system to investigate Sri Lankan feeds. The degradation characteristics of rice straw were investigated in this study as, while nearly three-quarters of Sri Lankan cattle and buffaloes are reared in arid zone where rice straw is the major crop residue, only a small proportion is offered as feed.