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Penfield Research Station Weight Gain Trials
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2013 Ryegrass Trial

Penfield Ryegrass Weight Gain Trial 2013


An irrigated 6Ha paddock was divided into 12 half Ha sections. On the 6th of May, 4 of these sections were each sown with Icon Italian Ryegrass, Crusader Italian Ryegrass and Perun Festulolium.

  • Sowing rate was 30Kg/Ha
  • 24 Angus steers were split into 3 grazing groups of 8 steers, with an average starting weight of 225Kg
  • The 3 groups simultaneously grazed each of the varieties throughout the duration of the trial
  • The trial ran for 16 weeks, in which each block of each variety at least would be grazed in a rotation for a week every 4 weeks.
  • No other source of feed or supplements were given to the animals

Discussion

The trial protocol was developed to remove any variables and limiting factors other than the grass variety being grazed, so that it was ideally the only influencing factor into the differences of the animal’s performance. Environmental conditions and animal performance differences were mitigated due to the fact that each variety being assessed was grazed simultaneously in identical conditions and for an equal time by all the animals involved in the trial. During the trial, measurements were not only taken for the weight gain information on the steers, but forage production and rate of consumption were analysed as well. This gave us data on the intake of the animals on the specific varieties, and the efficiency of the different forage in weight gains. Some interesting observations can be made particularly on perun. The inclusion of a Festulolium in a trial involving Italian Ryegrasses was due to the fact that late season production into spring and early summer in Italian Ryegrass is suffering in area’s with increasingly common hot and dry finishes.

With added root depth and heat tolerance characteristics during the fourth rotation, we saw the perun exceed the Italian varieties in dry matter production as it was more suited to the hot conditions we experienced in September and October. A small burst of heat and moisture stress in the period of the second rotation is well observed in a decline in weight gain performance in the icon and Crusader, whereas the perun maintained its high gain figures. One observable negative of the perun was its lower production in the early part of the trial, which is due to the fact that it was sown in early May, which is at the later end of the sowing window for the Festulolium and it was delayed in establishment compared to the Italian Ryegrasses; ideally perun should be sown as early as possible in the autumn grass sowing window. Still, without a limiting factor of available feed due to the trial being run in an excess feed situation, it was clear when looking at the feed test information on the three varieties that even with slightly less total production, a better relative feed value and nutritional balance and inputs, we saw an increase of weight gain on the perun over the other varieties.


 

Liveweight gain trial 2012 Ryegrass Grazing

Penfield Station Liveweight Gain Trial 2012
Ryegrass Grazing Trial

Trial details:

  • An irrigated 6Ha paddock was divided into 12 half Ha sections. On the 8th of May, 4 of these sections were each sown with 3 different Tetraploid Annual Ryegrass varieties: Jivet, Tetila and Winter Star 2. Sowing rate was 30Kg/Ha
  • 21 Angus x Hereford steers were split into 3 grazing groups of 7 steers, with an average starting weight of 245Kg
  • The 3 groups simultaneously grazed each of the varieties throughout the duration of the trial
  • The trial ran for 12 weeks, with an additional 4 week pre-trial grazing period, in which each block of each variety would be grazed in a rotation for a week every 4 weeks. The pre-trial grazing started the rotation off so blocks had an equal re-growth time; the measured trial period ran from the 27/8/2012 until the 19/11/2012 (84 days)
  • Each group of steers spent equal grazing time on the 3 varieties
  • No other source of feed or supplements were given to the animals

Discussion:

The trial protocol used was developed to remove any variables and limiting factors other than the ryegrass variety being grazed, so that it was ideally the only influencing factor into the differences of the animal’s performance. During the trial, measurements were not only taken for the weight gain information on the steers, but forage production and rate of consumption were analysed as well. This gave us data on the intake of the animals on the specific varieties, and the efficiency of the different forage in weight gains.

One of the major goals was to assess the winter productivity of the varieties which was quite impressive, but as the trial continued to later in the season and into spring, we saw some quite dramatic differences in forage production and quality. As the season progressed, the earlier maturing Tetila started to show head emergence and stem elongation, and responded a lot slower in regrowth to grazing; this lead to less overall productivity and reduced intake from the grazing groups.

The later maturing Jivet had more end season growth and animal performance due to its increased productivity during this time. It is clear that using a later maturing variety (18+ days to flowering later than Tetila) that you can achieve higher live weight gains due to better forage quality and overall yield in an extended season.


 

Liveweight gain trial L70 vs Aurora 2011/12

Penfield Station Liveweight gain trial
L70 vs Aurora 2011/12

7% increase in daily weight gain achieved with L70 Lucerne

Trial details:

  • An irrigated 6Ha paddock was divided into 12 half Ha sections, 6 were sown with L70 and 6 sown with Aurora of the 10th of May, 2011 (sowing rate 15 Kg/Ha)
  • 14 Angus steers were split into grazing groups of 7 steers each, with an average starting weight of 207 kg
  • The 2 groups simultaneously grazed L70 and Aurora throughout the entirety of the trial
  • The trial ran for 12 weeks, divided into 4 grazing periods of 3 and a half weeks, in which each section of both varieties would be grazed for a half a weak, a leveling cut was made after each grazing
  • Each group of cattle spent equal time on each of the varieties, swapping a total of 2 times swapping a total of 2 times
  • No other source feed or supplements were given to the animals

Discussion:

The trial protocol used was determined as the best possible way to measure the given variable (the Lucerene variety being grazed) while limiting other factors influencing weight gain, such as the environment, because both varieties would be grazed simultaneously and subjected to the same conditions. This also removed the variability caused by individual animal performance.

Results are a guide to livestock potential weight gains that could be achieved on specific Lucerne varieties. Size of the animals was an issue in this particular trial; a larger animal would have likely had better weight gains in this situation. Supplements and other feed will also potentially further enhance weight gains, but do not allow us to as accurately measure the Lucerne as the specific contributing factor.

The feed conversion efficiency in the L70 however showed that potentially L70 produces better quality feed regardless. Daily intake of dry matter was calculated using measurements taken with an electronic pasture probe measuring dry matter before and after grazing. The commercial forage yield trial was run along side the grazing trial, on a plot basis using replicated 14m2 plots. Sown on the 18/8/11, 3 cuts of multiple replications were taken between the 18/12/11 and the 19/2/12. The irrigated trial was sown at 15 kg/ha.


 

2011 Cereal Grazing Trial

2011 Cereal Grazing Trial

Expected growth habit of Moby Barley and
Outback Oats over a growing season

Trial details:

  • Trial sown: 29/4/11
  • 12 x ½ Ha blocks sown; 6 sown to Outback Forage Oats, 6 sown to Moby Forage Barley
  • Both cereals sown @ 100kg/ha
  • Grazing start date: 24/6/11
  • Grazing end date: 25/10/11
  • Total trial length: 18 weeks (126 days)
  • 20 Hereford steers used with an average weight of 232kg
  • 3 x 6 week grazing rotations
  • Each 6 week rotation consisted of each ½ Ha block being grazed for 3.5 days each
  • Dry matter measurements taken before and after grazing with electronic pasture probe
  • Looking to explore differences in seasonal production and available feed over feed shortage periods and into peak growing season
  • No other feed or supplements were supplied to the animals

Discussion: Moby Forage Barley

At the onset of the trial we expected to see some large differences in the growth habits of the two grazing cereals, and the results truly supported that theory. The intended use of Moby Barley is for quick early feed, and as we can see the initial growth of the Moby prior to grazing was significantly higher than that of the Outback Oats. The Moby showed not only good early growth but good establishment vigor in a cold and wet June and July.

However, the management of the Moby became more complicated and difficult as growing conditions improved in the second and third grazing rotations; the Moby started to come out to head very quickly and before the rotation was due to reach the block. This meant that the Moby was being grazed past its ideal grazing point, and yield potential of the following grazing was lower as a result. Not only this, but the overall quality of the feed had declined as well as availability, and we saw that reflected in the drop in weight gains.

Discussion: Outback Forage Oats

The Outback’s were a bit slower to establish, however in the long run ended up with more overall dry matter in the full season trial. The Outbacks improved in growth rates and provided more available feed as the season went on, and weight gains increased accordingly. Being a Mid/Late variety, the Outback’s had not come close to maturity before the rotation completed throughout the duration of the trial, and as the trial went on, recovery from grazing was consistent unlike with the Moby.

Summary

In summary, this trial highlights the usefulness of Moby Forage Barley for early season production and for filling the winter feed gap period, and the overall fantastic yield potential and ongoing production late into the season of the Outback Oats. The Moby clearly had an overall initial yield advantage, and even after being initially grazed 3 weeks earlier than the Outback’s it still had a 50% increase in overall dry matter yield 8 weeks post sowing.


 

Weight Gain data fact sheet ML99 vs Aurora 2011

Lucerne Live weight Gain Trial 2010/11
Multileaf ML99 vs. Aurora

Trial details:

  • A 6Ha paddock was divided into 12 half Ha sections, 6 were sown with ML99 Multileaf® lucerne and 6 sown with Aurora lucerne on the 5th of May, 2010 (sowing rate 15kg/Ha)
  • 16 genetically similar Hereford steers were split into 2 grazing groups of 8 steers each, with a starting weight averaging 294 Kg’s
  • The 2 groups simultaneously grazed ML99 Multileaf® and Aurora throughout the entirety of the trial
  • The trial ran for 24 weeks divided into 4 grazing periods of 6 weeks, in which each section of both varieties would be rotationally grazed once for a week, a leveling cut was made at the end of each week
  • Each grazing group spent a grazing period on 1 variety (6 weeks), and then at the conclusion, the grazing group was swapped to the other variety, this occurred 4 times
  • Starting date of trial: 20/9/2010
  • Finishing date of trial: 4/3/2011
  • Total trial length: 24 weeks (168 days)
  • The trial was under irrigated conditions
  • No other feed or supplements were supplied to the animals

Discussion:

The trial protocol used was determined as the best possible way to measure the given variable (the Lucerne variety being grazed) while limiting other factors influencing weight gain such as environmental conditions (heat, rain, wind etc) because both varieties would be grazed simultaneously and subject to the same conditions. This also removes variability caused by individual animal performance
Results are a guide to potential livestock weight gains that can be achieved on specific Lucerne varieties. Use this information as a tool to look at forage production potential under traditional grazing systems.

The commercial forage yield trial was run along side the grazing trial, on a plot basis using replicated 14m2 plots. Sown on the 12/9/10, 3 cuts of multiple replications were taken between the 5/12/10 and 25/2/11. The irrigated trial was sown at 15kg/ha.

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