EverGraze Action – Growing kikuyu for summer feed and soil cover
This fact sheet describes the potential for use of kikuyu as a drought lot or containment area option, as well as providing summer green feed on the east coast of Australia. Kikuyu is a creeping, subtropical perennial grass that forms a dense turf, is tolerant of continuous heavy grazing and can be very persistent if placed in the right soils and with sufficient summer rainfall. Kikuyu is best suited to light soils. It grows rapidly in spring, summer and early autumn but is dormant in winter, at which time pasture production is driven by annual companion species such as subterranean clover.
Kikuyu has a deep root system (2-3 m), is an efficient water-user and can dry out soils. It will tolerate waterlogging and is relatively drought tolerant. The growth habit of kikuyu helps protect the soil surface from erosion and stabilise soils that are likely to erode. Its creeping habit also displaces broadleaf weeds.
Mature kikuyu leaves are only about 65% digestible. Although sufficient for livestock maintenance and wool production, supplementation is required to grow livestock. Fresh, closely grazed kikuyu leaves can exceed 70% digestibility. On sandy coastal soils, kikuyu is ideal to fill the autumn feed gap and reduce supplementary feeding requirements and/or allow increased stocking rates.