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Evaluation of different oat varieties for fodder yield and yield related traits in Debre Berhan Area, Central Highlands of Ethiopia

Gebremedhn Beyene, Alemu Araya and Hailay Gebremedhin1

College of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mekelle University, P.O. Box 231, Mekelle, Ethiopia
1 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Debre Berhan University, P.O. Box 445, Debre Berhan, Ethiopia


Oat is the most important well-adapted cereal fodder crop grown in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a wide range of agro-ecological zones, described in the research centers to develop varieties to suit different zones as well as different systems of fodder production.  However, the yield per acre is still far below than optimum level of production. Considering such a miserable picture in the country, field experiment was conducted to evaluate the performance of seven forage oat varieties namely: 80-SA-130, 8251-CI, 80-SA-95, 8237-CI, Lampton, 8235-CI and Jasari at Agricultural Experiment Station of Debre Berhan University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources during the year of 2014/15. The experiment was laid out in randomized complete block design having three replications and a net plot of size 1.2 m x 5 m. Data was recorded for plant height, leaf number tiller-1, tiller number plant-1, tillers per m2 and green fodder yield.


The varieties differed in yield and yield related parameters. The variety Lampton produced significantly higher green forage yield (67.2 tĚha-1) than other varieties due to taller plants (178cm), more number of tillers plant-1 (14.2), tillers per m2  (256) and number of leaves tiller-1 (6.89) whereas, the variety Jasari recorded lowest (44.5 tĚha-1). Hence variety Lampton proved its superiority over all the other varieties included in the experiment.

Key words: Avena sativa L., forage yield, yield traits


By 2020, consumers in developing countries will eat 87% more meat and 75% more milk than they do today making livestock production the largest share of the value of global agricultural output (FAO 2005). Animal feeding systems in these countries are mainly based on grazed native pastures, which are deteriorating in production and quality, which vary seasonally resulting in poor animal performance. Despite the importance of livestock, inadequate livestock nutrition is a common problem in the developing world, and a major factor affecting the development of viable livestock industries in poor countries (Sere et al 2008). The Ethiopian highlands are inhabited by high human and livestock populations. High density of human and livestock population ranging between 37-120 people and 27-130 Tropical Livestock Unit (TLU) per square kilometer is one of the major reasons for severe degradation of the natural resource base (CSA 2008) resulting in poor animal nutrition.


In the mixed cereal livestock farming systems of the Ethiopian highlands, crop residues provide on average about 50% of the total feed source for ruminant livestock. The contributions of crop residues reach up to 80% during the dry seasons of the year (Adugna 2007).  Further increased dependence on crop residues for livestock feed is expected, as more and more of the native grasslands are cultivated to satisfy the grain needs of the rapidly increasing human population. In spite of the rising dependence on fibrous crop residues as animal feeds, there are still certain constraints to their efficient utilization. Substantial efforts have been made so far to resolve the feed shortage problem in the Ethiopian highlands, aiming at improving feed availability and thereby improve livestock productivity. The available fodder supply is 1/3 less than the actual needs of animals (Younas and Yaqoob 2005). So that more nutritious and high yielding fodder varieties are needed to run an efficient livestock industry.


Oats (Avena sativa L.) is one of the most important well-adapted fodder crops grown in the highlands of Ethiopia mainly under rain fed conditions. It is produced by some peri-urban dairy cattle producers and by smallholder farmers who own crossbred dairy cows. It is early maturing, palatable, succulent and energy rich crop. Oat is mostly used as silage or hay during fodder deficit periods (Suttie and Reynolds 2004) and liked by animals due to high palatability and softness. Its grain is also valuable feed for dairy cows, horses, young breeding animals and poultry. Lulseged (1981) reported that its grain also makes part of the staple diet of human beings in some parts of central highlands of the Ethiopia. Temperate and cool sub-tropical conditions are congenial for its growth. A well distributed rainfall of 400 mm and temperature range of 16-32 0C during the five months of its growing seasons is sufficient to meet its requirements as a fodder crop (Bhatti et al 1992).


The improved varieties of oats have potential to produce three-fold green fodder i.e. 60-80 t ha-1 and could feed double the number of animals per unit area as against the traditional fodder crops (Haqqani et al 2003). With the introduction of new high yielding oat varieties, the farmers have recognized oat as important fodder crop for filling the fodder gap (Habib et al 2003). Many cultivars of oat have high feed value if cut at flowering stage i.e the best time for the crop harvest is at 50 percent flowering stage for better yield and can meet the demand of rapidly growing livestock industry of Ethiopia. Hussain et al (2002) also found that oats variety fatua harvested at 50 percent flowering stage produced the highest green fodder and dry matter yields. The farmers face fodder deficiency in winter when they have only dry stalks of cereal fodder or dry summer grasses. There is a dire need to maximize fodder production per acre which could be increased 2-3 fold by adopting improved varieties and agronomic practices (Suttie and Reynolds 2004).


Selection of the promising oat varieties is one of the most important decisions of plant breeders. This decision has an impact on the potential yield (forage and grain), disease and insect management and maturity of the crop. The development of improved cultivars of oat has changed the status of the oat crop in Ethiopia from a minor crop, limited to a few stations to one of the most important cool season fodders. Agricultural land is limited, so increase in forage availability should be through increasing the yield per unit area. Introduction of the new oat cultivars along with the expansion of dairy has given impetus to commercial forage growing in both irrigated and rained tracts. Therefore, keeping all the above facts in view, the present study was undertaken to evaluate and identify the performance of oat varieties with superior green fodder yield for livestock production in the central highlands of Ethiopia.

Material and Methods

Field experiment was conducted in June 2014/15 at Agricultural Experiment Station of Debre berhan University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Geographical location of the site is situated between 9o 36’ North latitude and 39o 38’ East longitudes with an altitude of 2780 meters above the sea level. The annual rainfall of the area is 1060 mm with bimodal distribution, over 70% of which occurs during the main rainy season (June to September) and 30% during the small rainy season (February to April) while the average annual minimum and maximum temperatures of the area are 6░ to 22░C. The soil of experimental site is classified as ‘Vertisol’. It swells by wetting and shrinks when dries.


The experiment consisted of seven treatments of oat varieties namely 80-SA-130, 8251-CI, 80-SA-95, 8237-CI, Lampton, 8235-CI and Jasari were laid out in randomized block design with three replications on well prepared and leveled field. All the treatments were randomly allocated to different plots in each replication. The varieties were selected on the basis of their adaptation to the highlands of Ethiopia from previous introduction and screening works. The plot size used was 1.2 m x 5 m and plots were spaced 50 cms. Each plot had 6 rows spaced 20 cms apart and data was collected from the middle four rows and the two rows were served as a border. Rows were 5 meters long and blocks were spaced 1 meter apart. The seed rate used was 100 kg ha-1. Drill method was used for seed sowing. Fertilizer was applied @ 80: 60: 00 kgĚha-1 NPK, respectively. All of phosphorous, and half of the nitrogen were applied at the time of sowing in the form of DAP (Diammonium Phosphate) and Urea. Remaining nitrogen was applied at mid-tillering.

Table 1: The varieties and their respective origins.

























Data for the following plant characteristics were recorded.

Green fodder yield (tĚha-1): central four rows were harvested at 50% flowering stage and weighed to get fresh fodder yield (FFY). The yields obtained were converted into tĚha-1.

Plant height: was measured in cms from the soil surface to the tip of the plant by selecting ten plants at random from the four middle rows of each plot at late flowering stage.

Number of tillers plant-1: was recorded as mean of counts taken from ten plants that were randomly selected from the four middle rows of each plot.

Number of leaves tiller-1: was counted as mean of counts taken from ten plants that were randomly selected from the middle rows of each plot.


Generated data were analyzed using the general linear model (GLM) procedure of the statistical analysis system (SAS 2008). Whenever treatments were found significant, mean differences was done following Duncan’s Multiple Range Test Method (Duncan 1955).

Result and Discussion

Mean squares from the analysis of variance for number of leaves per tiller, number of tiller per plant, plant height, number of tillers per m2 and green fodder yield t ha-1 as affected by different varieties are presented in (Table 2).


Number of Leaves Tiller-1


The data regarding number of leaves per tiller is shown in Table 2. The number of leaves play vital role in growth and development of plant. The increase or decrease in number of leaves per tiller has a direct effect on the yield of forage crops. The effect of different varieties on number of leaves per tiller was significant (P< 0.01) and number of leaves per tiller varied from 6.89 to 4.89 (Table 2). The variety Lampton produced the maximum number of leaves per tiller (6.89) followed by the variety 8237-CI which produced (6.17) but 8237-CI did not differ significantly from 8235-CI which produced (5.61) number of leaves per tiller. The lowest numbers of leaves per tiller (4.89) were produced by 80-SA-130. All the other varieties recorded minimum and similar leaves tiller-1. The results obtained were in agreement with those of Hussain et al (2005), Naeem et al (2005) and Bhatti et al (1992).


Number of Tillers Plant-1


The data presented in the Table 2 regarding the number of tillers per plant of oat varieties revealed that number of tillers per plant was significantly affected by different oat varieties. Table 2 indicates that Lampton showed maximum number of tillers (14.2) followed by 8237-CI that produced 13.3 and significant difference (p< 0.01) was observed with Jasari and 80-SA-130 varieties that produced 11.3 and 9.25 tillers per plant respectively but Lampton was statistically at par with rest of the varieties. 80-SA-130 variety was produced lowest (9.25) tillers per plant which was significantly different from all the varieties. Significant variations among oat varieties for number of tillers have been reported by Naeem et al (2006 and 2002) and Arif et al (2002).


Plant Height (cm)


Plant height is a major factor contributing towards forage yield of different crops. Variety Lampton produced the maximum height (178 cm) but it did not statistically different with 8237-CI, showed plant height (170 cm) while the minimum plant height (137 cm) indicated by variety Jasari (Table 2). The main cause of those differences in plant height is due to differences in genetic makeup of the varieties. The significant effect of variety on plant height in present study is in agreement with previous findings (Kibite et al 2002b). Chohan et al (2004) also reported significant differences among the oats varieties regarding plant height. Variety 80-SA-95 (167.67 cm) was at par with that of variety 8237-CI in plant height. Oat varieties 80-SA-130, 8251-CI and 8235-CI recorded the lowest and similar plant heights of 139.7, 140.3 and 145 cm, respectively. These findings are in accordance with those of Hussain et al (2005) in which they studied different exotic oats varieties under different agro-climatic conditions.


Number of tillers meter-2


Numbers of tillers per meter-2 are directly proportional to fresh fodder yield. Variety Lampton was found to be at the top with 256 tillers while variety 80-SA-95was ranked second with 249 tillers. Variety Jasari was the lowest which produced only 153 tillers meter-2 (Table 2). Variety Lampton was found to be a vigorous variety having the high tillering capacity. Nawaz et al (2004), Yanming et al (2006) and Ahmad et al (2008) also reported tiller number varied among the genotypes, which is in agreement with our findings.


Fodder Yield


Data on green fodder yield (tĚha-1) showed that fodder yield varied significantly among the varieties (Table 2). The fodder yield is the most important trait and the ultimate product of a fodder variety. Variety Lampton produced the highest yield of 67.2 t ha-1. The variety Jasari produced the lowest yield of 44.5 t ha-1 (Table 2). The perusal of the data revealed that Lampton proved to be the highest yielder variety, and as regards the other characters, it was found to be the highest in plant height, tillering capacity and number of leaves, which reflects its better nutrient utilizing response. The result obtained was in line with Gautam et al (2006) and Peltonen-Sainio et al (1995) reported positive correlations between tiller number, fodder and grain yield. Significant difference was observed between Lampton and 80-SA-130 and also between Lampton and Jasari but Lampton was significantly at par with the rest of the other varieties. Nawaz et al (2004) also reported significant differences among the oat cultivars regarding green forage yield. These results are inconformity with Ayub et al (2011), Hussain et al (1993), Naeem et al (2006) and Lodhi et al (2009). Amanullah et al (2004) stated that higher yields of fodder in oat cultivars can be possibly attributed to their greater leaf area, responsible for more photosynthetic activities having high capacity to store assimilative products of photosynthesis.

Table 2: Mean values of fodder yield and yield traits of different oat varieties

Yield and
yield related traits










Number of leaves/tiller









Number of tiller/plant









Number of tillers/m2









Plant height









fodder yield t ha-1









Mean values in the same row carrying similar letter (s) do not differ significantly at 5% probability level; SEM=Standard Error of Mean



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Received 21 July 2015; Accepted 19 August 2015; Published 1 September 2015

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