Effect of herb-clover mixes on yearling lamb production


Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

This research article looks at the effect of herb-clover mixes of plantain and chicory on yearling lamb production in the early spring period. If you are looking for alternative pasture species for finishing lambs - this is an interesting insight into what happens in NZ.


Plantain and chicory in the early spring period

What is the problem?

Perennial ryegrass  and white clover pasture is the least cost forage available for lamb production in New Zealand.However, this herbage mix has a seasonal pattern of production influencing animal performance and can limit post-weaning lamb growth in summer  Therefore, alternative herbage systems are required to allow weaned lambs to achieve their growth potential all year round.

What did the research involve?

Lamb production was evaluated in three herbage treatments (Pasture mix, Plantain mix and Chicory mix) in two consecutive early spring periods.

The hypothesis was that the Plantain and Chicory mixes would produce greater weaned lamb liveweight gains than the Pasture mix. The lambs were rotationally grazed weekly in the herbage treatments and weighed fortnightly and carcass data collected at slaughter.

What were the key findings?

  • both Plantain and Chicory mixes produced heavier carcasses at slaughter
  • lambs had greater liveweight gains and dressing-out percentages in Experiment two for the pasture, plantain and chicory mixes, respectively, than the Pasture mix in the early spring period

Final comment

This study indicates that a herb-clover mix of plantain and/orchicory, white and red clovers has the potential to produce greater individual lamb LW and carcass weights than a rye grass/white clover pasture during the early spring period.

Therefore, these herb-clover mixes are an alternative herbage for finishing lambs in early spring.

2015 - New Zealand - CSIRO
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