Lamb growth rates on pasture: Assessing options for finishing lambs in spring

Shawn McGrath, Graeme Sandral, Michael Friend

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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Pastures that allow high lamb growth rates in late-spring and early summer are likely to facilitate an increase in production for meat-based livestock systems. This study compared the growth rates and final weights of White Dorper and crossbred lambs grazing six novel pastures over the mid to late-spring period.
Pasture treatments (0.4ha plots) were sown in April 2014 in a replicated complete block design. Pasture treatments included French serradella, bladder clover, forage brassica, lucerne, lucerne + phalaris and arrowleaf clover + chicory with the latter two treatments sown in 1:1 alternate sowing row (tyne) arrangement. Each plot was grazed by 13 lambs (mean starting weight 32.2 kg; five White Dorper (Dorper), five White Suffolk x Merino (WSM) and three White Suffolk x White Dorper (WSD); between 15 October and 2 December. Lambs were weighed weekly after an overnight curfew. Pasture pluck samples were taken weekly and nutritive value tested by NIR. Pastures were managed to ensure the amount of above-ground biomass did not limit intake of lambs.
Lambs grazing the lucerne + phalaris and French serradella pastures reached maximum liveweight on 18 November, lambs grazing bladder clover reached maximum weight on 26 November and lambs grazing forage brassica, chicory + arrowleaf clover and lucerne were still gaining weight at the conclusion of the experiment (2 December). Final liveweights were highest for lambs grazing the arrowleaf clover + chicory pasture (Dorper 43.7 kg, WSD 45.2 kg and WSM 44.0 kg).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication17th Proceedings of the Australian Agronomy Conference
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherAustralian Society of Agronomy
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event17th Australian Agronomy Conference - Wrest Point Convention Centre , Hobart, Australia
Duration: 21 Sept 201524 Sept 2015


Conference17th Australian Agronomy Conference
Abbreviated titleBuilding Productive, Diverse and Sustainable Landscapes
Internet address


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