Lush Lucerne Grows Lambs

An explosion of lucerne growth following summer rains now offers graziers the opportunity to boost lamb production according to Industry & Investment (I&I) NSW.

I&I NSW advisory officer, Jim Meckiff, said graziers can take advantage of good green feed at this time of year by finishing lambs,
growing out replacement ewe weaners and flushing ewes to lift conception rates.

“Results from an EverGraze trial near Wagga Wagga have shown that ewe ovulation rates are up to 22 percent higher on lucerne compared with less digestible mature grass, resulting in more twins being conceived on lucerne,” Mr Meckiff said.

“Good nutritional management ensures ewes are in a better condition and body weight at joining, giving them the ability to achieve higher conception rates.”

Trial results indicated ovulation rates increase with as little as 900 kilograms of dry matter of green feed on offer. Mr Meckiff cautioned graziers that maintaining pregnant ewes on lush lucerne required strategic grazing management.

“The biggest risk for single-bearing ewes on lucerne is reduced progesterone levels,” he said.

“Progesterone helps maintain pregnancy and can fall below critical levels when single-bearing ewes are allowed maximum feed intake on lush lucerne, but twin-bearing ewes aren’t at risk because they are producing more progesterone.

“We recommend ewes have access to lucerne one week before joining, be joined on the lucerne for another week and moved off prior to scanning.

“Producers should scan to identify ewes bearing singles and twins and adjust their grazing management accordingly to ensure they are rewarded with extra lambs.”

EverGraze, which aims to boost grazing profits by 50 per cent and improve natural resource, partners I&I NSW, Australian Wool Innovation Ltd, Meat & Livestock Australia, Catchment Management Authorities and farmers through the Cooperative Research Centre for Future Farm Industries.

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