Legumes, herbs or grass for lamb performance?
Lamb performance was evaluated for three consecutive summer–early autumn periods on ryegrass (Lolium perenne), white clover (Trifolium repens), chicory (Cichorium intybus), plantain (Plantago lanceolata) or lotus (Lotus corniculatus). Lamb liveweight gains, fasted liveweights at slaughter and hot carcass weights tended to be highest on legumes and chicory and lowest on plantain and ryegrass. Greasy wool weights were significantly higher on lotus and white clover than on chicory, plantain and ryegrass. Greasy wool weight was significantly related to fasted liveweight (R²=0.94–0.99). Protein (%) in herbage accounted for 83–92% of the variability in animal performance; food intake accounted for 57–69% of the variability and was negatively correlated with hemicellulose and cellulose (R²=97.2 and 80.9%, respectively). Thus quality of feed was more important than intake alone in determining animal performance.... [Show full abstract]