AgFirst consultant Ben Harker in front of 24ha about to be sown in plantain.
Anawai Station’s lucerne stands have proved their worth this year.
The farm’s 91ha of lucerne are all up on the Maraetotara Plateau country, and they’ve been used to graze the multiple-bearing ewes, finishing lambs and weaner deer.
From October to the end of January this year lucerne has produced 24% more drymatter than existing pastures. This compared to the 2011-12 summer where the lucerne produced 18% more drymatter than the other pastures.
Ewes and their lambs on the lucerne have outperformed grass-fed ewes, including single-bearing ewes.
Initially the lucerne was stocked with 12 twin-bearing ewes a hectare, but this was pushed up to 15.
The lambs from these ewes grew 355g/day on average until weaning, and 66% of the lambs were killed at weaning. Dressing-out percentages were 48.8% for the first draft and 47.3% for the second draft.
In comparison lambs from grass-fed ewes grew at 225g/day to weaning, and 19% of these lambs were killed at weaning. The first draft had a dressing-out percentage of 46.8%, the second draft 44.3%. These paddocks were stocked at 9.5 twin-bearing ewes a hectare.
The ewes on lucerne averaged a body condition score of four early in December, while those on grass averaged only two.
Anawai is one of the hubs for East Coast Future Farming Systems’ lucerne trials in Hawke’s Bay.