Six Merino wethers were used to graze six box-grown genotypes of subterranean clover in a Latin square design. Each animal was offered 2 replicates of each genotype and permitted to graze 70% of the sward on offer. The amount eaten was recorded at each grazing and video recordings were used to record each sheep's grazing behaviour. There were genotype differences in the rate of intake of fresh feed (g/min) with Clare (79.3 g/min) being eaten faster than the other genotypes while Trikkala (67.1 g/min) was eaten faster than both Geraldton (53.0 g/min) and Dinninup (54.9 g/min). Similarly bite rate and dry matter (DM) per bite (bite weight) were significantly related to genotype. With Dinninup the rate of intake and DM per bite were less than expected from the measured sward characteristics while differences in sward height accounted for most of the differences recorded with Clare (20 cm tall) and Geraldton (8 cm tall). The results indicate differences in the intake response of sheep to different genotypes of subterranean clover. Possible reasons for these differences are discussed.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 52, , 281-284, 1992
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