High sugar ryegrass improves lamb performance

Trial results have shown a consistent improvement in lamb performance when grazing a mix of AberMagic and AberDart high sugar ryegrass (HSR) cultivars compared to lambs grazing a high-performing standard ryegrass (SRG) cultivar.

According to the research carried out by AbacusBio, lambs grazing HSR had an average increase in daily gain of 31 grams per day, which resulted in an increase of 400 grams in carcass weight at slaughter and an additional 200 grams of meat yield using Alliance Group’s VIAscan technology.

The increased growth of HSR lambs resulted in more lambs reaching target weights with 75 percent of the HSR grazed lambs successfully finished in the 2013/14 production season compared to 62 percent of the SRG lambs.

“The research shows that there are productivity gains from lambs grazing HSR and the resulting increase in meat yield could have significant benefits for both farmers and our customers," Murray Behrent, Livestock General Manager at Alliance Group says.

“While there is a strong case for farmers in the southern region to consider using HSR on their farm, it’s important to note that the trial was an animal performance trial and was not designed to provide a comprehensive outline of plant performance.”

The trial report suggests that further studies need to be undertaken to compare other cultivars across multiple regions to fully understand the effect of HSR on lamb performance.

“These results are a positive for HSR, however it is a comparison between lambs grazing on HSR and those grazing on a single SRG cultivar. Further work would be required to understand the comparison against lambs grazing on other cultivars," AbacusBio consultant Hadyn Craig says.

The study shows that HSR increased lamb growth rates which enabled a higher proportion of lambs to be finished earlier.

“While earlier finishing, better yielding lambs tend to be better for returns, productivity and quality, they also offer the potential to reduce the environmental impact of lamb production," Philip Hambling, Agriculture Manager at Sainsbury’s says.