Chicory Part E - Nutritional quality of chicory, and animal production

Series:  Edition:  Last updated:

Nutritional quality of chicory

  • Puna chicory's protein levels can range from 10%–25%, which is largely dependent upon soil fertility and plant maturity.
  • Puna is very digestible with high mineral content (see Table B1).
  • Puna chicory has higher levels of potassium (K), sulfur (S), zinc (Zn) and sodium (Na) than grasses.
  • Leaves are 70%–80% digestible, while the stems and flowers have low digestibility (see Table E1).
  • Rotational grazing management can be used to manage the forage to reduce the amount of stem produced.
  • There have been no known bloat problems associated with grazing chicory.

Table E1 shows the digestibility, metabolisable energy, percentage crude protein, and total nitrogen for various types of feed:

Table E1. Feed quality analysis (NSW Department of Primary Industries)

Feed type (leaf) Digestibility (%) Energy (ME) Crude protein (%) Total N (%)
Chicory 70–80 9–11 14–24 2.2–4.3
Sub clover 53–80 8–10.5 13–21 2.08–3.42
Perennial ryegrass 50–77 7–9 9–27 1.4–5.26
White clover 54–82 8.8–12.3 17–24 1.65–4.7
Lucerne 48–77 7–11 13–24 1.6–4.6

Animal production on chicory pasture

Studies in Cowra and Adelong (NSW DPI) have shown that chicory is well suited to finishing lambs to 'elite' specifications (see Table E2). Lamb growth rates on chicory equalled or exceeded those achieved on lucerne. Similar results have been reported for cattle and deer.

New Zealand experience has shown that a diet dominant in Puna chicory (>50%) can cause milk tainting. Currently, taint-free varieties of chicory are being selected as alternatives for dairy production. So far there has been no evidence, from experiments carried out in Australia, that chicory taints meat.

Table E2 compares liveweight gain, carcase weight, and fat depth and score for lambs grazing on chicory pasture and lucerne pasture.

Table E2. Lamb liveweight gain (g/head/day), final carcase weight (kg) and fat depth (mm, and score) at the GR site for five groups of lambs at Cowra (DAN 070, 1998)

Group Chicory Lucerne
Liveweight gain Carcase weight Fat depth (& score) Liveweight gain Carcase weight Fat depth (& score)
Group I: 15-9-1992 to 4-11-1992
Cryptorchids 312 25.0 14.5 (2) 248 23.2 12.0 (2)
Ewes 194 22.2 16.2 (3) 183 21.9 14.9 (2)
Group II: 6-11-1992 to 3-1-1993
Cryptorchids 243 22.0 12.6 (2) 233 21.8 12.3 (2)
Ewes 190 19.7 13.4 (2) 180 20.2 13.6 (2)
Group III: 7-1-1993 to 11-2-1993(a)
Cryptorchids 289 188
Ewes 224 172
Group IVa: 19-9-1993 to 18-10-1993
Cryptorchids 304 18.5 8.7 287 18.1 8.7
Group IVb: 18-10-1993 to 30-11-1993
Cryptorchids 262 22.0 12.4 247 21.6 13.0

(a) Lambs were removed from plots early due to disease incidence, and hence other measurements were not taken.


Always read the label

Users of agricultural (or veterinary) chemical products must always read the label and any Permit before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any Permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or omitted to be made in this publication.

Pasture improvement

Pasture improvement may be associated with an increase in the incidence of certain livestock health disorders. Livestock and production losses from some disorders is possible. Management may need to be modified to minimise risk. Consult your veterinarian or adviser when planning pasture improvement.

The Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 restricts some pasture improvement practices where existing pasture contains native species. Inquire through your office of the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR).

Further information

For further information on chicory, see the other parts of Agfact P2.5.40: