PERENNIAL PEANUT: DEVELOPMENTS IN ANIMAL RESEARCH
E. C. French, G. M. Prine, and L. J. Krouse
Assistant Professor, Professor, and Graduate Student
Department of Agronomy
University of Florida
Perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata, Benth.) is a high quality,
perennial forage legume, adapted to well-drained soil, and humid, warm
climates (Prine, et. al., 1981). Numerous plantings throughout the
state have demonstrated that perennial peanut is ideally suited to
Florida's growing conditions. Perennial peanut is unique to Florida
because there is no other warm season legume with the desirable forage
characteristics, persistence under Florida conditions, and broad
spectrum of uses, including hay and other dehydrated products, pasture,
creep grazing, silage, ornamental, conservation cover and living mulch.
Perennial peanut offers several advantages. Being drought tolerant
and winter hardy in Florida, this long-lived perennial plant does not
require replanting once established. Because there is no annual
replanting cost, no nitrogen fertilizer, insecticide or fungicide costs,
overall production expenses are kept to a minimum. Perennial peanut can
be grown as a monocrop or in mixture with perennial grass. The practice
of overseeding small grains into perennial peanut sod beginning November
or December has been quite successful, providing added forage or grain
production while inhibiting emergence and growth of weeds.
Important to the development process of perennial peanut, was the
release of high yielding cultivars for Florida. In 1978, the first
rhizoma peanut was released in Florida under the name of Florigraze.
(Prine, et. al., 1981). Arbrook became Florida's second named cultivar
in 1986. (Prine, et. al., 1986). Florigraze, being the first release,
was particularly important in furthering development of perennial
peanut in Florida.
The developmental process, from which perennial peanut and its
encompassing technology have evolved was relatively slow due to lack of
a concerted research/extension effort. Work with the crop has been on- j
going since its introduction from Brazil into Florida in 1936, however,
most acreage expansion has occurred since 1982.
Interest in perennial peanut has intensified in recent years and is
presently being researched within a varied number of disciplines. This
paper will discuss the important research carried out with animals.
Research was conducted using perennial peanut as a calf supplement
in a creep grazing management scheme. Lactating Brahman cows were
maintained on bahiagrass pasture. Treatment calves had free access to
their mothers in addition to perennial peanut pasture, while control
calves remained with their mothers on bahiagrass. The study concluded
that cow weight loss was less and calf average daily gain (ADG) was
greater when calves were creep fed on perennial peanut (Table 1)
Table 1. Performance of purebred Brahman cows and calves on Pensacola
bahiagrass pasture with perennial peanut creep grazing. June 13 - Sept
5, 1985. Pine Acres Research Unit, Gainesville.
Weight loss Weight gain ADG
Animal Treatments kg kg calf-1 kg
Bahia with calf creep
on perennial peanut 4.1 69.2 .78
Cows on bahia 24.1 54.1 .62
An animal performance trial beginning in 1985 was designed to
measure yearling weight gains using perennial peanut and Pensacola
bahiagrass as a pasture forage. Yearlings grazed on perennial peanut
had an ADG of .89 kg, compared to .24 kg for those animals grazed on
bahiagrass pasture (Table 2) (Sollenberger and Jones, 1985). Gains per
hectare were equal for the two treatments because animals continued
grazing two months longer on bahiagrass pasture. Gain per hectare per
day was double for perennial peanut.
Table 2. Performance of 340 kg calves on
Pensacola bahiagrass and
Feed source period rate ADG gain gain
date hd ha-1 kg kg ha-1 kg ha-1 d-2
Perennial peanut 7/17 - 9/18 2.7 .89 144 2.30
Pensacola bahia 5/15 - 9/18 5.0 .24 144 1.14
Results from studies (Romero, 1985) show that a diet of perennial
peanut blended with concentrate at 70% of the mix, equivaleYt to 14%
crude protein, yielded an average high of 18.3 kg milk day- (Table 3).
Alfalfa plus concentrate at 70% of the mix, equivalent to 20% crude
protein, yielded 19.1 kg milk day . Corn silage plus concentrate at
70% of the mix, equivalent to 18% crude protein, yielded 18.5 kg milk
Table 3. Effects of forage source, forage and protein
level on milk
Alfalfa 77 Perennial peanut Corn silage
Crude protein 16 20 14 18 14 18
% concentrate milk kg day-1
30 14.9 16.9 15.3 15.6 16.5 17.1
70 16.7 19.1 18.3 17.9 18.5 18.4
Butterfat production maximized at 3.84% with a diet of perennial
peanut plus concentrate at 70% of the mix, equivalent to a crude protein
of 18% (Table 4).
Table 4. Effects of forage source, forage and protein
level on percent
Alfalfa 77 Perennial peanut Corn silage
Crude protein 16 20 14 18 14 18
% concentrate % butterfat
30 3.28 3.26 2.99 3.84 3.64 3.28
70 3.21 3.47 3.47 3.77 3.15 3.73
Recent research conducted by Staples, et. al., (1987), consisted of
four experimental diets of corn silage, rhizoma peanut haylage and corn-
soybean meal fed ad libitum to lactating cows in the following ratios:
1) 50:0:50, 2) 30:20:50, 3) 1:35:50, and 4) 0:50:50, respectively.
Maximum milk yield (30.0 kg day- ) was attained with a 30:20:50 ratio
diet, while greater butterfat yield resulted from 35% perennial peanut
haylage in the diet (Table 5).
Table 5. Lactation performance for cows fed four
rhizoma peanut haylage and corn/soybean meal.
ratios of corn silage,
Dry matter Dry matter Milk Milk Body weight
Feed ratio intake intake yield fat change
kg day-1 % of bw kg day-1 % kg day-1
50:0:50 23.4 4.13 30.4 3.47 .75
30:20:50 23.9 4.25 30.9 3.43 .47
15:35:50 22.6 4.05 29.8 3.49 .29
0:50:50 20.9 3.78 28.8 3.51 .28
Recent work using perennial peanut in gestating sow rations in
place of soybean-corn concentrate has produced very positive results
(Lopez, et. al., 1986). Diets containing perennial peanut at 0, 40, 60,
and 80% of the ration were fed to sows during gestation. Three separate
partuition periods have yielded similar results. Sows fed an 80% diet
of perennial peanut farrowed more pigs than the other treatments and
yielded an equivalent number of live weaped pigs compared to the 100%
corn/soybean ration (Table 6).
Table 6. Reproductive performance of sows fed perennial peanut
Percent perennial Number pigs Number pigs Number pigs
peanut in diet farrowed born alive weaned
0 8.83* 8.50 6.67
40 11.00 10.33 6.50
60 10.60 10.40 5.60
80 11.50 11.17 6.67
*Means in columns did not differ
(p < .05)-
weight gain during gestation was greatest for sows fed 60%
peanut (42.0 kg) and least for those fed 80% (19.4 kg) (Table 7).
Performance of sows fed gestation diets containing perennial
Percent perennial peanut'in diet'
Dependent variable 0 40 60 , 80
Number of sows 6 6 5 6
Sow initial weight (kg) 131.7b* 146.6ab 166.9a 132.1b
Sow prepartum weight (kg) 165.1bc 186.6ab 208.9a 151.4c
Sow weight gain (kg) 33.4a 40.2a 42.Oa 19.4a
Sow postpartum weight (kg) 155.Obc 169.4b 196.2a 140.2c
Litter birth weight (kg) 11.5a 15.3a 13.7a 11.la
Placenta weight (kg) 2.1a 1.9a 1.7a 1.9a
Sow weaning weight (kg) 149.4bc 167.2ab 185.1a 134.8c
* Means within a row followed by same letter are not significantly
different at 0.05% probability according to DMRT.
Research data from Oregon State University has established that
perennial peanut is a superior feed source for rabbits (Gomez, 1983).
In one feeding trial, perennial peanut meal was compared to aflalfa and
kudzu meal. No difference was observed in ADG, however, feed conversion
of rabbits fed perennial peanut was significantly better (Table 8).
Table 8. Performance of rabbits fed three legume forages.
Average Feed Feed
Total daily gain intake conversion
Feed* gain (g) (g) per day (g) (feed/gain)
Alfalfa 1111 39.7 127 3.2
Perennial peanut 1111 39.7 102 2.6
Kudzu 884 31.6 111 3.5
*Percent protein: alfalfa, 16%; perennial peanut, 16.5%; kudzu, 11.5%
Perennial peanut meal was compared with yellow corn and alfalfa
meal as a xanthophyll pigment source for egg yolk coloring (Janky, et.
al., 1986). Lower wavelength properties of perennial peanut resulted in
lower percent excitation purity and higher percent luminosity at both
5.5 mg kg" and 11.0 mg kg feed ratio (Table 9).
These data indicate that perennial peanut contains adequate levels
of pigments for use as a commercial feed additive. Extracted protein
plus pigments opens a new potential industrialized use of perennial
peanut, yielding a high value product for poultry.
Table 9. Calculated color values for egg yolks from hens fed yellow
corn, dehydrated alfalfa meal, or dehydrated perennial peanut leaf meal
at two dietary xanthophyll levels.
Xanthophyll level Dominant Excitation
and source wave length (nm) purity (%) Luminosity (%)
5.5 mg kg-1 diet
Yellow corn 575.5b 77.63a 35.26a
Alfalfa 575.2ab 81.67b 35.17a
Perennial peanut 574.8a 77.41a 35.99a
11.0 mg kg-1 diet
Yellow corn 577.4b .91.10b 29.34a
Alfalfa 576.6ab 90.63b 31.83ab
Perennial peanut 576.1a 88.49a 33.27b
*IDL Color Eye reflectance colorimeter for color value
Much has been achieved in a relatively short time toward developing
perennial peanut as a new alternative forage for Florida. Efforts are
now under way that should expand our understanding and use of perennial
peanut far beyond its present point. Present findings confirm the
tremendous potential perennial peanut has throughout the animal
industry. The limits of our exploration of perennial peanut are
boundless. If the involvement of private sector, extension, and
research continues its present increasing trend, perennial peanut will
soon be the most important forage crop in Florida.
Gomez de Varela A., D. J. Harris, P. R. Cheeke and N. M. Patton. 1983.
Evaluation of perennial peanuts (Arachis glabrata), kudzu (Pueraria
phaseloides) as feed stuffs for rabbits. J. of Applied Rabbit
- . . I
Janky, D. M., B. L. Damron, C. Francis, D. L. Fletcher and G. M. Prine.
1986. Evaluation of Florigraze rhizoma peanut leaf meal (Arachis
glabrata) as a pigment source for laying hens. Poultry Sci.
Lopez, F. D., C.
E. White, and E. C. French. 1986. Reproductive
of sows fed ground perennial peanut hay during
Animal Science Res. Report SW-1986-3. 7 pp.
Ocumpaugh W. R. 1979. Creep grazing for calves. Proc. 28th Annual
Beef Cattle Shortcourse. Anim. Sci. Dept., Univ. of Fla.,
Gainesville, Florida. pp. 159-165.
Prine, G. M., L. S. Dunavin, J. E. Moore, and R. D. Roush. 1981.
"Florigraze" rhizome peanut, a perennial forage legume. Univ. of
Fla. Agric. Exp. Stn. Circ. S-275. 22 p.
Prine, G. M., L. S. Dunavin, R. J. Glennon, and R. D. Roush. 1986.
"Arbrook" rhizoma peanut, a perennial forage legume. Univ. of Fla.
Agric. Exp. Stn. Circ. S-332. 16 pp.
Romero, F. 1985. Nutritional
Florigraze rhizoma peanut
of Florida, Department of
evaluation of Florida 77 alfalfa and
as forages for dairy cattle. University
Dairy Science, Dissertation. 172 pp.
Sollenberger, L. E. and C. S. Jones. 1985. University of Florida,
Department of Agronomy. Unpublished data.
Staples, C. R., S. M. Emanuele, and G. M. Prine. 1987. Feeding value
of Florigraze rhizoma peanut haylage for lactating dairy cows.
American Society of Animal Science abstract.