Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Pastures improved

Beamish Farms have established Aber high-sugar perennial ryegrass on 64ha of centre-pivot-irrigated flats next to the Ngaruroro River.

The AberMagic and AberDart grasses, marketed by Germinal Seeds NZ, were sown on Takapau silt loam soils and have been used for wintering bulls and finishing lambs during the summer.

David Kerr, of Germinal Seeds NZ, says Aber high-sugar grasses have a high soluble carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, enabling ruminants to convert protein into milk, meat and fibre more readily. As well as having excellent digestibility, they are densely tillered and have good rooting depth providing persistence of up to 10 years or more. British research has also indicated that animals grazing high-sugar grasses have lower methane emissions.

“The high-sugar grasses were sown as pure swards out of brassica,” says Farm Manager Shane Tilson. “So far they have persisted well and are performing as well as anything we have seen in that environment.

“We have also been able to establish clover, plantain and chicory in the existing AberMagic by broadcasting the seed and trampling it in with big mobs of ewes.”

The Beamishes buy 100kg weaner Friesian bulls in November and December to spend their first winter on the high-sugar grasses (HSG). The bulls are sold store during the following November-January period at over 450kg liveweight.

Shane reports that growth rates in the young cattle grazing the HSG have been pleasing, ranging from 0.9 to 1.2kg LW/day during the winter. The new grasses appear to have been particularly winter-active this year.

Lambs bred on Awapai and Waitata are finished on the HSG block once the yearling bulls have been sold. Shane attributes good rates of liveweight gain in these lambs to improved feed quality and reduced internal parasite loadings associated with the new pastures and the cattle grazing during the winter.

R1bulls on Awapai: Their first winter is spent on the high-sugar grasses.

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