It is not clear whether the inherent qualities of tall fescue or the legumes grown with it are responsible for the wide range of liveweight gains in young sheep grazing these swards. The objective of this experiment was to determine the value of the white clover content in tall fescue swards relative to perennial ryegrass/white clover swards in respect to live weight gain in young sheep. Nine trials (ranging from 41 to 190 days) were conducted at AgResearch Poukawa and AgResearch Lincoln from spring 1995 to autumn 1997 using 15 animals as replicates in 19 treatments. Overall, live weight gains ranged from –87 to 366 g/head/day. Even small increases in clover content had large positive effects on liveweight gain of young sheep grazing both perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. At the same pasture mass and composition, all spring grazing liveweight gains were significantly greater than those in autumn (P<0.001). Tall fescue swards appear to sometimes produce higher liveweight gains than perennial ryegrass-based swards, but this is by virtue of growing more white clover, particularly in spring.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 60, Hamilton, 51-54, 2000
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