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Ruminant Nutrition and Forage Utilization
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2006;19(1): 31-34.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2006.31    Published online December 6, 2005.
Effect of Cutting Interval and Cutting Height on Yield and Chemical Composition of Hedge Lucerne (Desmanthus virgatus)
W. Suksombat, K. Buakeeree
The experiment was conducted to determine the effects of cutting interval and cutting height on the yield and nutrient composition of hedge lucerne (Desmanthus virgatus) when grown on a sandy soil in the Northeast of Thailand. The cutting intervals compared were 30, 40 and 50 days between harvests and the cutting heights 30, 40 and 50 cm above ground level. The experiment was a 3횞3 factorial layout in a randomized complete block design with 4 replications-giving a total of 36 plots each 3횞3 m2. Harvested plant material was weighed, dried and the ground subsamples taken for analyses of crude protein (CP), crude fiber (CF), ash, ether extract (EE) and nitrogen-free extract (NFE). At the last harvest the hedge lucerne samples were separated to determine leaf to stem ratios and then analyzed for nutrient composition in the leaf and stem. Results showed that increasing the cutting interval (i.e. advancing age of maturity) increased dry matter and nutrient yields significantly. In terms of nutrient content, it also increased the crude fiber, ash, ether extract and nitrogen free extract percent in the plant. However, crude protein percent was markedly decreased as the cutting interval increased. Increasing cutting height had no effect on dry matter yield and yields of nutrients, but in terms of nutrient content, it increased crude protein and ash content, but decreased crude fiber content. The percent EE and NFE in the plant was unaffected by cutting height. From the results presented it is clear that cutting a stand of hedge lucerne every 40 to 50 days will achieve greater dry matter and nutrient yields than cutting more frequently, at 30 days. The cutting height at harvest, whether 30, 40 or 50 cm above ground level had no effect on dry matter or nutrient yields of hedge Lucerne. Hedge lucerne therefore offers the Thai poultry farmer a useful alternative protein supplement for poultry diets rather than relying on the more expensive soybean meal. As it can be readily and successfully grown on a range of soil types and climates throughout Thailand, hedge lucerne also offers the Thai farmer a valuable additional source of income.
Keywords: Hedge Lucerne; Desmanthus virgatus; Cutting Interval; Cutting Height; Yield; Chemical Composition

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