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Herbage intake of grazing sheep in South-western Australia

HE Fels, RJ Moir and RC Rossiter

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 10(2) 237 - 247
Published: 1959


Estimates of the intake of pasture organic matter by grazing sheep were made for two types of pasture, clover-dominant and grass-dominant, at three growth stages. These estimates were made from faecal nitrogen index equations which were derived from data on penned sheep. One of the equations was found to be remarkably close to Lanoaster's (1954) regression of feed/faeces ratio on percentage faecal nitrogen content. The dry mature clover pasture was anomalous, and a separate "local" regression was derived for it. Organic matter intakes for grazing sheep of about 110 lb body weight ranged from 900 to 1300 g/day, except on dry clover pasture, where the intake was only about 700 g/day. Contrary to common belief, subterranean clover was eaten at least as readily as grass during the growing season. Evidence is presented that sheep grazing on pastures with a total nitrogen content of 2 . 5 per cent. or less select material of higher than average nitrogen content, whereas if the nitrogen content of the pasture exceeds 3.5 per cent. there is no such selection. The anomalous characteristics of the dry mature clover are discussed in some detail, and further evidence is given suggesting that the material was of poorer digestibility than usual.

© CSIRO 1959

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