Animal performance changes over 11 years after implementing a lucerne grazing system on Bog Roy Station
In 2008, Bog Roy was run as a typical high-country station with merino ewes and lambs set stocked for long periods of the year, with 60 ha of lucerne grown for hay. Over the next 7 years, the lucerne and ryecorn areas increased by 30 ha per year. Total lamb meat weaned increased from 91 to 130 t in the first three years direct feeding of lucerne commenced, which improved ewe and two-tooth performance at lambing (% and survival). In the second phase, ewe numbers and pre-weaning lamb growth rates increased. Lambs were weaned earlier and ewes returned to higher pasture covers on hills, which improved their condition score and weights at mating and lambing. In 2016, a change from flood to pivot irrigation resulted in a further production increase to 160 t weaned lamb. By 2018, the mixed age ewes had 141% lambing (to tailing), and pre-weaning lamb growth rates of over 270 g/hd/d which allowed weaning after 80 days. The lamb weaned per ewe mated has increased from 25 to 37 kg over the decade despite increased feed demand from 900 more ewes. These animal performance indicators quantify the transformational change achieved through a focus on grazing and increasing the area of lucerne. This was followed by lucerne and red clover based pastures being established under pivots. The ability to record and quantify changes in stock performance has given the farmer confidence to trust and embrace the transformational change.
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