The carbohydrate (CHO) fraction of pasture grasses is a major source of energy for many domestic herbivores. However, the amounts, and types, of the water–soluble carbohydrate (WSC) fraction (i.e. glucose, fructose, sucrose, and polymers of sucrose and fructose, the fructans) present in such grasses, varies with species and environmental conditions. As the WSC constitute a highly digestible, energy yielding fraction of grasses, it is important to be able to measure their levels in a sward so that the diets of pastured animals may be designed to elicit optimal health and productivity. The aim of this study was to characterise the WSC profile of six UK pasture grasses, and to develop a technique for extracting the fructan portion of the WSC.
Six species of UK pasture grasses [Cocksfoot (C), Timothy (T), Meadow Fescue (M), Italian Ryegrass (IR), Perennial Ryegrass (PR) and Hybrid Ryegrass (HR)] were grown in experimental field plots at IGER.