Feeding value and cost of native spear grass hay in Western Australia

Gaye Krebs, Samantha van Wyngaarden, Robert Rouda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Spear grass hay was harvested from 4 sites on Kanandah Station, Western Australia. In the lead up to harvesting, seasonal conditions were among the best on record. Feeding trials involving steers and wethers were undertaken to evaluate animal performance when fed spear grass hay, with or without access to supplements. The findings indicate that, occasionally, brief opportunities may appear when spear grass range on the Nullarbor Plain can be successfully harvested and made into reasonable quality hay, but the harvesting window of opportunity is short and choosing the best harvesting time is essential. Yields of spear grass hay compared favourably with those of other native grass pastures reported by Queensland researchers. Animals readily consumed the spear grass hay, although both the sheep and cattle lost weight when fed only spear grass hay. However, providing a small amount of supplement (100-200 g/d for wethers; 1 kg/d for steers) maintained livestock. On-station spear grass hay production on the Nullarbor was a cheaper option than importing hay. Based on our findings, if the highest estimated cost of on-station production is used ($153/t), feeding costs are $1.15/hd/d for cattle and $0.15/hd/d for sheep. Alternatively, if the lowest estimated cost of production is used ($64/t), feeding costs are $0.48/hd/d for cattle and $0.06/hd/d for sheep.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-107
Number of pages4
JournalAnimal Production in Australia
Volume25
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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