Variability and inheritance of digestibility in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) , meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis) , and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata)

Frandsen, K.J.; Fritsen, H.

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica 32(4): 437-453


DOI: 10.1080/00015128209435344
Accession: 001148515

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Fifty clones of each of the 3 forage grass species, perennial ryegrass (L. perenne), meadow fescue (F. pratensis) and cocksfoot (D. glomerata) were analyzed for in vitro digestibility, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber and lignin at different stages of maturity in 2 yr. Significant differences were found between clones and estimates of the variability are presented. Significant, but rather low, negative phenotypic correlations were found between digestibility and earliness, and between digestibility and growth type, indicating that selection for high digestibility is not necessarily precluded by the association of this character with earliness. The range of variation indicates that it should be possible to improve digestibility by selection in the 3 spp. studied. The least variable of the 3 spp. appeared to be meadow fescue, while cocksfoot showed the lowest digestibility. Broad sense heritability estimates for digestibility varied between 0.61-0.69 for perennial ryegrass, between 0.48-0.55 for meadow fescue and between 0.68-0.72 for cocksfoot.