A study of growth and venison production from weaner red deer grazing pure "Pawera" tetraploid red clover (RC) or conventional perennial ryegrass/white clover (PRG) pasture was conducted, with the objective of attaining a minimum slaughter liveweight (92 kg; 50 kg carcass) by 12 months of age in the stags. Ten weaner red deer stags and 10 weaner red deer hinds were rotationally grazed on either RC or PRG pasture. In autumn and spring, forage allowances were respectively, 7 kgDM/h/d and 8 kgDM/h/d. In winter, the animals from both groups were grazed together on PRG pasture, at a residual dry matter of 1100 kg/DM/ha; 0.5 kgDM/h/d of meadow hay was also provided. Liveweight gains of RC and PRG stags were respectively 263 vs 192 g/d, 101 vs 106 g/d and 362 vs 341 g/d during autumn, winter and spring. With hinds, the liveweight gains of RC and PRG groups were respectively 198 vs 173 g/d, 52 vs 53 g/d and 242 vs 218 g/d during autumn, winter and spring. Animals grazing RC pasture had significantly higher liveweight gain during autumn (p<0.01), but not in winter and spring. At one year of age, stags grazing RC were 7 kg heavier and hinds 3 kg heavier than animals grazing PRG pasture. Animals grazing RC pasture had higher voluntary feed intake (VFI) in both autumn (p<0.10) and spring (p<0.001), than animals grazing PRG pasture. All stags grazing RC pasture reached the minimum slaughter liveweight by one year of age, compared to 75% grazing PRG pasture. Stags that had grazed RC produced heavier carcass weights (59.9 vs 54.5 kg, p<0.01), and had higher carcass dressing percentage (55.3 vs 53.2%, p<0.01). RC has potential as a special purpose forage for the growth of weaner red deer.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 52, , 45-48, 1992
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