Turning dual-purpose wheat into meat: comparison of merino and white dorper maternal systems on a mixed-farming feedbase

S.R. McGrath, S.H. Street, G.L. Krebs, M.A. Friend - ASAP Animal Production, Adelaide

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

This research article looks at turning dual-purpose wheat into meat, comparing merino and white Dorper maternal systems on a mixed-farming feedback. Interesting to note that lamb production systems from non-wool breeds need to produce more meat per hectare to achieve returns commensurate with Merino-based systems.

What is the problem?

Grazing late-pregnant and lactating ewes on dual-purpose wheat may be an effective strategy to reduce the impact of the winter feed gap in the mixed farming systems of southern Australia. This study sought to identify the advantages of meat production of utilizing dual-purpose wheat for grazing by lambing ewes.

What did the research involve?

Dual-purpose wheat was sown on 18 April 2013 into 9 x 0.93-hectare plots on the Charles Sturt University farm at Wagga Wagga, NSW. Emergence and initial growth rates were slow, and plots were spread with urea on 11 June at a rate of 80 kg/ha to boost production prior to grazing.

What were the key findings?

The feed on offer at the commencement of grazing wheat was low but increased during the wheat grazing period. Feed availability was high during the period when sheep grazed the Lucerne and clover pasture and would not be considered to be at a level that could restrict intake. Differences in the feed on offer did not differ significantly between genotypes at the conclusion of grazing.

Final Comment

Ewes grazed dual-purpose wheat during lambing at a feed on offer level below recommendations for temperate pasture, and the level at the commencement of grazing was below that reported when grazing wheat in other studies. Given mean BCS of ewes increased during the grazing period, this suggests that grazing forage at this level and stocking rate did not restrict ewe intake, and ewes can be grazed on wheat with low initial FOO provided forage growth is adequate.

2016 - Australia - S.R. McGrath, S.H. Street, G.L. Krebs, M.A. Friend - ASAP Animal Production, Adelaide
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