Windmill grass

Page last updated: Thursday, 13 December 2018 - 9:37am

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Windmill grass is a useful pasture species, providing forage over the summer/autumn feed gap. It is tolerant of drought and saline conditions and can be grazed heavily and repeatedly. Nutritionally, it is comparable to senesced subterranean-clover based pasture or wheat stubble and sheep will preferentially graze windmill grass prior to seed head production.

Table 1 The characteristics of windmill grass pasture, compared to senesced subterranean clover based pasture over spring and summer
Pasture characteristic Windmill grass Sub-clover based pasture Wheat stubble
Digestible dry matter (%) 61-63 49-64 43-52
Crude protein (%) 10.4-14.2 6.8-12.2 2.5-6.5
Metabolisable energy (MJ/kg) 8.8-9.1 5.7-9.0 5.8-7.0

Dry biomass of windmill grass over summer in the central wheatbelt ranges from 0-1460kg/ha, depending on seasonal conditions. Given that paddocks in WA should not be grazed below 500kg of dry matter/ha to avoid erosion and sheep will trample/ruin approximately 30% of available dry matter, then 1460kg/ha of dry biomass will provide 877 grazing days/ha (that is, approximately 30 days for 30 sheep/ha), assuming that sheep are maintained at condition score 2 (that is, sheep maintained in a lean but healthy condition).

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