Whether it is fresh cut or grazed or made into silage or hay, well managed lucerne has excellent energy and protein levels to sustain good levels of animal performance.
Lucerne for dairy cows
For many New Zealand dairy farms, protein is most likely to be production limiting during the summer months. Pasture protein levels
of dry, stalky ryegrass pasture can be as low as 10 – 12%, which is considerably lower than the 14 – 16% requirement of late to mid
lactation dairy cows.
Farmers who rely on large levels of low protein feedstuffs, such as maize silage, cereal silage or grains, to fill summer feed deficits or
meet the early lactation requirements of autumn calving herds may also experience protein deficiencies and should consider feeding
Research (Macdonald et al, 1998) shows that including 0.7 kg of protein in a 50:50 diet of maize silage and summer/autumn pasture
increased the protein content of the diet from 11.8 – 16.8%. Milksolids production increased by 115 – 165 gMS/cow/day for soybean
and fish meal respectively.
Lucerne for beef cattle
Lucerne will allow producers to achieve high animal growth rates and/or increase animal stocking rates. Its high energy and protein
levels make it an excellent complement to lower quality summer pastures.
Lucerne for sheep
It is possible to achieve high lamb growth rates on lucerne. In an experiment conducted at Grasslands, Palmerston North, lamb growth
rates were measured on pasture and a range of other forages including lucerne (Burke et al, 2002).
Lambs grazing lucerne gained an
average of 191 g per day compared to lambs grazing pasture which gained 105 g per day.
Research conducted in Western Australia has shown growth rates of 1.00 – 1.75 kg per head per week (Devenish, 2003).
Article courtesy of Pioneer