Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
A grazing study was undertaken on three commercial properties in the southern South Island of New Zealand to compare the performance of lambs grazing high-sugar ryegrass/white clover (HSG) with lambs grazing a standard ryegrass/white clover pasture (SRG).
What did the research involve?
Cultivars were established in late spring 2012. Pasture was allowed to recover to around 1,800 kg DM/ha before the commencement of grazing trials.
There were approximately 400 lambs in each treatment group per property. The swards were grazed in autumn 2013 and summer/autumn 2014 at a density of 30 to 35 lambs/ha.
Lambs were weighed regularly throughout the season and those that reached the desired weight were sent for slaughter.
What were the key findings?
- Across both years and properties, lambs grazing the HSG pasture grew 31 grams per day faster (17%) on average than those grazing SRG.
- These lambs were an average of 0.4 kg heavier in terms of carcass weight at slaughter, yielding 0.2 kg more meat per carcass based on scanning data.
- Significant performance advantages were found in lamb-finishing systems for the three farms for the cultivars evaluated.
This experiment has demonstrated that farmers may consider the use of HSG ryegrasses in their farming systems, especially those in the Southern region of New Zealand.