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Ovine Observer

MLA Tedera Demonstration 2020-2023

Phil Barrett-Lennard, AgVivo

Author correspondence: phil@agvivo.com.au

Introduction

This Producer Demonstration Site (PDS), run by the Moora Miling Pasture Improvement Group, is evaluating animal performance from four commercial stands of the new perennial legume pasture Tedera in the Central Midlands of WA. The sites, located at Strathmore (Dandaragan), Pankee (Walebing) and Cranmore (Walebing) were sown in June 2020 and first grazed in May and June 2021. The four demonstration sites were grazed for the second time in October, November and December 2021. Another site will be brought into the project in 2022 and monitored from 2023 onwards.

Recently weaned Merino lambs were used at all four sites as these were the highest priority class of stock on the farm at the time. Lambs were weighed at the start and end of grazing. At each site, one large pre-existing mob of lambs was split; with some lambs grazing Tedera and the remaining lambs grazing control pastures consisting of annual pastures and crop stubbles. Sheep were supplementary fed as required.

Results

At the Strathmore (Dandaragan) site, 600 Merino lambs grazed the 12ha Tedera pasture for 57 days from 14 October 2021 to 10 December 2021. The Feed on Offer (FOO) of the Tedera at the start of grazing was 11 400kg DM/ha. The other 986 lambs of the mob grazed a 100ha annual pasture containing mostly serradella and annual ryegrass. The FOO of the annual pasture at the start of grazing was 3300kg DM/ha. Neither mob was supplementary fed during this period. The Tedera lambs had a slightly lower average daily live weight gain at 114g/hd/day than the control lambs at 125g/hd/day. However, the Tedera lambs had a 500% higher stocking rate at 50 lambs/ha compared to the control at 10 lambs/ha and produced significantly more lamb liveweight per hectare (325 kg/ha) than the control (70 kg/ha) over the same 57 day period. When the Dry Sheep Equivalent (DSE) grazing days from the autumn and spring grazing are added together, the Strathmore Tedera site carried 13.5 DSE/ha in 2021. This is well above the farm and district average.

At the Pankee (Walebing) site, 230 Merino lambs grazed the 20ha Tedera pasture for 48 days from the 4 November 2021 to 22 December 2021. The FOO of the Tedera at the start of grazing was 2200kg DM/ha. The other 665 lambs of the mob grazed a 54ha annual pasture containing mostly poor quality senesced annual grasses. The FOO of the annual pasture at the start of grazing was approximately 1500kg DM/ha. The control mob grazing annual pastures were supplementary fed 50g/hd/day of lupins. The average daily liveweight gain of the Tedera lambs was 117g/hd/day; a gain of 5.6kg over 48 days while the control lambs lost 11g/hd/day; a loss of 0.5kg over 48 days. The stocking rate of both pastures was similar (11.5 vs 12.3 lambs/ha).

The Tedera pasture produced 64kg/ha of lamb liveweight gain while the control pasture lost 7 kg/ha of lamb liveweight. The control pasture also incurred approximately $1 per lamb of supplementary feeding cost. When the DSE grazing days from the autumn and spring grazing, plus some limited winter grazing by rams are added together, the Pankee Tedera site carried approximately 4 DSE/ha in 2021. This is below the farm and district average, but the grazing was in the more valuable shoulder season by high priority classes of stock including twin bearing ewes and light weight weaners. It is also worth noting that there was a significant amount of leaf drop in the Tedera towards the end of the spring grazing as temperatures rose. With an earlier or shorter spring grazing period, some of this leaf drop could potentially have been converted into animal production.

At the Cranmore (Walebing) site, 200 Merino lambs grazed the 36ha Tedera pasture comprised of two 18ha paddocks for 25 days from 18 November 2021 to 13 December 2021. The FOO of the Tedera at the start of the grazing was 1100kg DM/ha. The other 1525 lambs of the mob grazed 100ha of oaten hay stubble. The FOO at the start of the grazing was approximately 1000kg DM/ha. The control mob grazing stubble were supplementary fed 100g/hd/day of lupins. The average daily liveweight gain of the Tedera lambs was 134g/hd/day; a gain of 3.4kg over 25 days, while the average daily live weight gain of the lambs grazing oaten hay stubble was 84g/hd/day; a gain of 2.1kg over 25 days. The Tedera pasture produced 19kg/ha of lamb live weight gain compared to 32kg/ha in the control crop stubble. The control stubble incurred approximately $1 per lamb of supplementary feeding costs. When the DSE grazing days from the autumn and spring grazing, plus some extra early spring grazing by hoggets are added together, the Cranmore Tedera site carried approximately 2.1 DSE/ha in 2021. This is below the farm and district average. However, it should be noted that the visually assessed plant density of these two Tedera paddocks is less than ideal. The visual productivity of each individual Tedera plant has been lower at this site. This is most likely due to the heavy, shallow compacted soils.

Table 1. Summary of 2021 Tedera Producer Demonstration Site results

Site

Pasture

FOO (kg/ha)

Lambs/ha 

Weight gain

Grain fed ($/hd)

g/hd/day

kg/hd

kg/ha

Strathmore

Tedera

11 400

50

114

6.5

325

0

Strathmore

Control

3300

10

125

7.1

70

0

Pankee

Tedera

2200

12

117

5.6

64

0

Pankee

Control

1500

12

-11

-0.5

-7

1

Cranmore

Tedera

1100

6

134

3.4

19

0

Cranmore

Control

1000

15

84

2.1

32

1

Image of a group of farmers in a paddock

Thanks to MLA for funding and to Moore Catchment Council for administering the project.