Animal performance on herb-clover mixes (containing plantain, chicory, red clover and white clover) can be inconsistent. Potentially this could be due to variation in botanical and nutritional composition of plant components affecting animal selectivity and, thus, performance. Herbage samples were collected monthly from November 2016 to May 2017, from 3 paddocks located at Massey University’s Keeble farm, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Quadrat-cut samples were used to determine the herbage mass and botanical composition. Hand-plucked samples of each plant components were analysed for the nutritional composition. The botanical composition of the herb-clover mix differed over time (P<0.05). The percentage of chicory stems increased (9.2 to 16.2%) and plantain stems decreased (14.7 to 1.0%, P<0.001). Overall, the crude protein and metabolisable energy of white clover, red clover, plantain and chicory leaves were higher (P<0.05) than those of plantain and chicory stems in each month except in November. These data indicate that a higher proportion of chicory and plantain stems in a herb-clover mix would reduce overall metabolisable energy and crude protein. This information can be useful for farmers to manipulate both the botanical and nutritional composition of herb-clover mix to optimise animal performance.

WEMLJ, Ekanayake, RA Corner-Thomas, LM Cranston, RE Hickson, PR Kenyon, and ST Morris

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 79, Palmerston North, 162-167, 2019
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