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Value Of Diverse Pastures For Lamb Growth

23 August 2017

Lambs grew ~50g per day more, weaned 2.4 kg heavier and needed less wormer treatment when grazed on diverse swards (containing red clover, white clover, chicory and plantain) compared with perennial ryegrass swards on 4 farmlet plots studied by University College Dublin (UCD).  Preliminary data below:

Perennial Ryegrass Sward

Growth rate to 6 weeks old – 300 g/day

Weaning weight at 14 weeks – 31 kg

Diverse Sward

Growth rate to 6 weeks old – 350 g/day

Weaning weight at 14 weeks – 33.4 kg

After weaning the difference in daily growth rate reduced.  The ewes and lambs were rotationally grazed on these plots to residuals of 4cm.

Individual Faecal egg counts were done to determine wormer requirement.  Those on the diverse pasture required less treatments than those grazing the perennial ryegrass.  FEC at 10 weeks were lower for those grazing the diverse pasture.

They also investigated adding birdsfoot trefoil and yarrow to the diverse mixture but these species did not successfully establish.

With thanks to Tommy Bowland (UCD) for providing these preliminary results.

Poppy Frater,

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