Improved forages to enhance hill country sheep production


  • T.J. Fraser
  • D.R. Stevens
  • R.W. Scholfield
  • B.J. Nelson
  • A.J. Nelson
  • S.M. Shortland


Recently, sheep and beef farms in New Zealand have been out-competed for prime land by dairy and horticulture farming. This means that industry targets to increase sheep and beef production have to be achieved on farms with constraints on pasture production. They are increasingly restricted to hilly and other locations with variable climates and soils, and landscape constraints on farming practices. These challenges lead to the formation of two on farm projects within the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Demonstration Farm programme to improve production from permanent pastures on sheep and beef farms. The first of these was a 4 year evaluation at Whangara Farms North of Gisborne looking at improving forage supply on both noncultivatable hill and flat to easy country through spraying out existing vegetation and oversowing or direct-drilling with white clover and plantain. The second project at Aria in the King Country concentrated on improving the forage quality and quantity at critical times of the year. Clovers and plantain were established through cultivation. Both projects showed that forage and animal production increased after the introduction of clovers and plantain. However, plantain at Whangara did not persist beyond the fourth year from sowing. Poor white clover establishment at Aria resulted in substituting red and white clover for plantain from the second year with improved forage and animal performance. At both sites the costs associated with introducing new forages was repaid within the first 2 years. Keywords: hill country development, forage species, forage quality, whole farm systems






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