Pasture-based diets restrict animal performance, due to limitations in voluntary feed intake and release of nutrients during digestion failing to meet nutrient requirements. Opportunities for improving the efficiency of pasture utilisation include the addition of a soluble carbohydrate source to enable an improved capture of ammonia by rumen bacteria, or the inclusion of condensed tannins (CT) to reduce protein degradation. A feed evaluation trial was conducted at AgResearch Grasslands to investigate the ability of sulla, a forage containing high concentrations of soluble carbohydrate and CT, to complement pasture and legume species. Fifty-six weaned ram lambs were allocated to seven diets: pasture (80% ryegrass and 20% white clover), white clover, lucerne, sulla, and 50:50 mixtures (DM basis) of pasture:sulla, white clover:sulla and lucerne:sulla. Lambs fed sulla, white clover, white clover:sulla and lucerne:sulla had the most rapid daily gains (256-263 g/day) while lambs fed pasture gained 105 g/day, respectively. Wool growth was influenced by diet. Sulla added to pasture, white clover and lucerne diets significantly reduced rumen ammonia concentrations and acetate:propionate ratios in lambs. Lamb performance can be improved by combining sulla with pasture and lucerne, and rumen parameters can be used to explain animal performance differences.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 152-156, 2002
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