Move over, alfalfa — Giant King Grass is here. At least, that’s what Walnut, Calif.-based VIASPACE Inc. CEO Dr. Carl Kukkonen is hoping dairy producers conclude. VIASPACE recently announced favorable laboratory results on its new Giant King Grass animal feed. The tests on the Giant King Grass, harvested at the VIASPACE nursery in California, were conducted by Dairy One in Ithaca, N.Y., one of the world's premier forage testing laboratories.

Young Giant King Grass first harvested on Nov. 11, 2013 at a height of 3 to 4 feet tall had a crude protein (CP) level of 19.5 percent of dry matter, with 34 percent acid detergent fiber (ADF), 55.5 percent neutral detergent fiber (NDF), 67 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN) and net energy of lactation (NEL) of 0.64 Mcal/lb. These figures are comparable to alfalfa, making it a potential alternative to the top forage crop.

Back in July, the company had reported results on a Giant King Grass cut. This was a third growth and the height was 4 to 6 feet, with CP of 15.6 percent, 38.9 percent ADF, 64.1 percent NDF, 59.8 percent TDN and NEL of 0.57. These figures are comparable to oat or sorghum hay with 50 percent more protein, company officials note.

Harvest of third growth Giant King Grass at a height of 4 to 7.5 feet on November 11, 2013 had CP of 10.5 percent, 37.4 percent ADF, 66.3 percent NDF, 64 percent TDN and NEL of 0.55. These figures are also comparable to oat or sorghum hay with slightly higher protein, and makes Giant King Grass much more nutritious than cornstalks. This harvest was a bit older and taller and had more stalks than the July 11, 2013 harvest, company officials note.

"These new animal feed results confirm that Giant King Grass is an excellent source for animal feed," Kukkonen says. “From our studies, it is apparent that Giant King Grass behaves like other forage crops in that younger, shorter and more tender plants have higher protein and lower fiber which is advantageous for some applications. Slightly older plants produce more dry matter, with lower protein and more fiber. The advantage of Giant King Grass is its very high yield, and the fact that it is perennial which means that replanting every year is not required. The data shows that Giant King Grass’ nutritional value can be as good as alfalfa when cut short, and oat or sorghum hay when it is cut taller — but with twice the yield and you don't have to replant every year. This means lower cost of production and higher profits for the grower.”

He also noted that the first U.S. commercial plantings of Giant King Grass for animal feed are currently underway with VIASPACE and SynTawa Energy in Arizona. In addition, the company is pursuing multiple other animal feed opportunities.

“We expect increased demand for Giant King Grass in low-frost areas of the U.S. Southeast, Southwest and Hawaii in addition to our documented global outreach,” he adds. “The Giant King Grass test results from the Dairy One laboratory are superb and serve to strengthen our position with our new animal feed clients.”