Sustainable grazing systems for the Central Tablelands of New South Wales. 3. Animal production response to pasture type and management.

P.J. Holst, D.F. Stanley, G.D. Millar, A. Radburn, David Michalk, Peter Dowling, R. Van de Ven, S.M. Priest, David Kemp, W.McG. King, J.A. Tarleton

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The main limitations for prime lamb production in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales are low availability of forage early in the growing season (late autumn'early winter) and low nutritive value in the summer. This paper describes the performance of a first-cross lamb breeding enterprise on 4 pasture types and 2 management systems over 4 years for the Central Tablelands region. The pastures studied comprised a traditional unfertilised naturalised pasture, a similar pasture fertilised with superphosphate, a sod-sown fertilised introduced perennial grass pasture and a sod-sown summer growing perennial, chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) pasture. Grazing management involved either continuous grazing or tactical grazing that combined a lower annual stocking rate with an optional summer rest to maintain perennial grass content above 50%. An additional area of chicory pasture was set aside for finishing lambs. Over the experiment stocking rates were increased each year as the pasture became established, with increases ranging from 1.5 ewes/ha for tactically grazed unfertilised natural pasture to 3.6 ewes/ha, for chicory and clover pasture. The feed quality v. quantity problem of summer and autumn was reaffirmed for each pasture type except chicory and the lamb enterprise appeared to be sufficiently adaptable to be promising. Ewes lambed in September and produced satisfactory lamb growth rates (about 280 g/day for twins) on the various pastures until weaning in late December. Thereafter, lamb growth rates declined as the pastures senesced, except chicory, reaffirming the feed quality v. quantity problem in summer and autumn of naturalised and sown grass pastures for producing lamb to heavyweight market specifications. Weaning liveweights (in the range of 32'40 kg) from grass-based pastures were high enough for only about 45% of the lambs to be sold as domestic trade lambs with the remainder as unfinished lambs. In contrast, the chicory andclover finishing pasture produced lamb growth rates of 125 g/day and quality large, lean lambs suitable for the export market. Vegetable matter in the late January shorn wool was insignificant and there was no significant effect of pasture on fleece weight, fibre diameter or staple strength. Position of break in staples of wool from chicory pastures differed from that of the other pasture types and warrants further study on time of shearing. It was concluded that a first cross lamb producing enterprise of suitable genetics was effective in producing trade and store lambs before pasture senescence, but the inclusion of a specialised pasture of summer growing chicory would create greater opportunities. In the unreliable summer rainfall region of the Central Tablelands, the area of chicory pasture needed to maintain lamb growth rates of >125 g/day, estimated from these results, is around 10 lamb/ha of chicory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-482
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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    Holst, P. J., Stanley, D. F., Millar, G. D., Radburn, A., Michalk, D., Dowling, P., Van de Ven, R., Priest, S. M., Kemp, D., King, W. M., & Tarleton, J. A. (2006). Sustainable grazing systems for the Central Tablelands of New South Wales. 3. Animal production response to pasture type and management. Animal Production Science, 46(4), 471-482.