Crop stubbles are as important for sheep production as annual pastures in the Victorian Mallee

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Abstract. The impact of different management strategies on production and profit can be evaluated with knowledge of how sheep production responds to changes in the available feed base and sheep or pasture management. This study aimed to quantify on-farm pasture and sheep production in mixed sheep/cropping systems in the (325 ' 50 mm annual rainfall) Victorian Mallee of southeastern Australia as a prelude to computer simulation modelling. During 2001 (average rainfall) and 2002 (extreme drought) pasture production, the feed base and sheep production were monitored in 15 paddocks on 5 properties located across the region. Crop stubbles were the major source of feed for 6 months of the year, enabling ewes to maintain live weight. There was more variation in pasture parameters between paddocks at the 1 location than between locations. The botanical composition, plant density, soil fertility and management were key variables associated with between-paddock variation in pasture production. Variation in pasture production between years was larger than within-year differences. In contrast, stocking rates were not much lower in the drought year of 2002 than in 2001. This study suggests there is potential for management to improve pasture production, and demonstrates the importance of feed sources other than annual pasture for sheep production in environments where the annual pasture growing season is short.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1003
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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