Miscanthus grass

Miscanthus is a large perennial grass species native to eastern Asian regions. here are many species and hybrids of miscanthus grass but in Australia it is currently cultivated primarily for domestic ornamental use. Miscanthus sinensis is the most common species of miscanthus grass in Australia and it is regarded as an environmental weed in New South Wales and as a potential environmental weed in Victoria. However, a sterile hybrid species, Miscanthus giganteus, is available that will not propagate in the wild, overcoming problems with the grass spreading by seed.

In Australia, there is currently no established commercial production of miscanthus grass for animal bedding. It may be a viable prospect for poultry enterprises to grow, harvest, chop and dry miscanthus grass for bedding. Miscanthus can grow in a large range of conditions and is known to grow well on marginal farming land. There is an Australian biotech company that can supply Miscanthus giganteus rhizome for commercial application.

General properties of Miscanthus giganteus

Chopped Miscanthus giganteus is an absorbent, lightweight material that is softer than most other grasses. The stalks have a unique internal honeycomb structure that is exposed in chopping or shredding processes. It is believed to have similar water holding capacity comparted to pine shavings.

Application in the Australian chicken meat industry

Chopped Miscanthus giganteus has been successfully used as bedding in commercial chicken meat production in Europe and the USA. It is managed in similar way to straw and several studies have found that chopped Miscanthus giganteus bedding does not affect bird weight or feed conversion ratio. There were no significant production or bird health differences between miscanthus and traditional bedding materials.

In a USA-based trial, Miscanthus giganteus bedding was re-used for six flocks and researchers found no statistical difference between miscanthus grass and pine shavings for ammonia emissions, moisture content and effects on footpad quality. The spent litter generated has similar nutrient content as that generated from the use of pine shavings.

Practical considerations Nut hull litter
Supply Commercially available in Australia?Yes
Operation Optimisation required for Australian conditions? Yes
Could it be available if demand was high? Yes
What might it cost if demand was high? Bulk purchasing could reduce cost significantly.
Management Additional management practises needed? Further research is needed
Regulation Are there regulatory or market barriers to using nut hulls as litter? Not applicable

Content source: Review of fresh litter supply, management and spent litter utilisation, AgriFutures Australia final report 2018

Downloads and resources

Best practice litter management manual for Australian chicken meat farms (PDF, 3MB) | online version

Review of fresh litter supply, management and spent litter utilisation (PDF, 3.5MB)

Litter re-use: an evidence-based guide to re-using litter (PDF, 1.3MB)


Azeus (2015) Energy crops pellets – a revolution for miscanthus, Zhengzhou, China: Zhengzhou Azeus Machinery Co., Ltd. Available from https://www.biopelletmachine.com/biopellet-making-guidance/energy-crops-pellets-a-revolution-for-miscanthus.html

Dunkley, C. and Ritz, C. (2017) Giant miscanthus grass as an alternative bedding in poultry houses, UGA Cooperative Extension Bulletin 1470, University of Georgia, United States of America. Available from https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/B%201470_1.PDF

PW Reporters (2012) New poultry bedding from miscanthus, Farmers Weekly. Available from https://www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/poultry/new-poultry-bedding-from-miscanthus

Thompson, C. (2015) Giant miscanthus grass an alternative for bedding in poultry houses, CAES Newswire, University of Georgia. Available from https://newswire.caes.uga.edu/story/5643/alternative-bedding.html