Publication

The effects of allowance and frequency of allocation of deferred herbage, and grass silage feed value, when offered to ewes in mid-gestation on ewe and lamb performance and subsequent herbage yield

Keady, T. W. J.
Hanrahan, J. P.
Citation
Keady, T. W. J. Hanrahan, J. P. (2009). The effects of allowance and frequency of allocation of deferred herbage, and grass silage feed value, when offered to ewes in mid-gestation on ewe and lamb performance and subsequent herbage yield. animal 3 (6), 879-890
Abstract
The effects of (i) herbage allowance, (ii) frequency of allocation and (iii) grass silage feed value on ewe and lamb performance were studied in mid-gestation ewes. Furthermore, the effects of (i) herbage allowance, (ii) frequency of allocation and (iii) grazing date and their interactions on subsequent herbage yield and feed value were also evaluated. Swards, which had a cut of silage removed on 6 September, received fertiliser nitrogen (34 kg/ha) for extended (deferred) grazing between 6 December and 1 February. Two grass silages differing in feed value were ensiled either precision chopped or in big bales from predominantly perennial ryegrass swards, respectively. In experiment 1, a completely randomised study involving 120 crossbred mid-gestation ewes (Belclare x Scottish Blackface) that had been mated in October was undertaken to evaluate the effects of extended grazed herbage allowance (1.0 and 1.8 kg dry matter (DM)/day), frequency of herbage allocation (daily and twice weekly) and grass silage feed value (low and medium) on ewe and subsequent lamb performance. The six diets were offered from days 63 to 120 of gestation. From day 120 of gestation to parturition all ewes were housed and offered the medium feed value silage ad libitum. All ewes received 19 kg concentrate prior to lambing. Increasing herbage allowance increased forage intake (P < 0.05), lamb birth weight (P < 0.01), weaning weight (P < 0.05) and growth rate from birth to weaning (P < 0.05), decreased herbage utilisation (P < 0.05) and tended to increase ewe condition score at lambing (P = 0.06). Frequency of herbage allocation or grass silage feed value did not alter (P > 0.05) ewe or subsequent lamb performance. In experiment 2, the effect of extended grazed herbage allowance (1.0 and 1.8 kg DM/ewe daily), frequency of allocation (daily and twice weekly) and grazing date (6 to 12 December, 27 December to 3 January and 17 to 23 January) on herbage yield at two harvest dates (27 April and 25 May) was examined in a split plot design study consisting of 72 plots. Delaying grazing date decreased herbage yield (P < 0.01) whilst delaying harvest date increased herbage yield (P < 0.05). Frequency of herbage allocation did not alter (P > 0.05) subsequent herbage yield. It is concluded that for ewes in mid-gestation 1.0 kg of low feed value silage DM had the same feed value, as determined by weaned lamb weight, as 1.3 kg herbage DM allowance. Each 1-day delay in grazing date reduced herbage DM yield by 54.2 kg/ha.
Funder
Publisher
Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Publisher DOI
10.1017/s1751731109004169
Rights
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland