OVERSOWING TRIAL: Rodney Bartlett, Tolcairn, Sherwood, at the producer demonstration site where seven forage species have been oversown into lucerne stands.A three-year Meat & Livestock Australia-funded producer demonstration site in the Upper South East is tackling the costly problem of grass seeds in lambs.
Producers can be slapped with $1 a kilogramor more discountsfor seed-infestedcarcasesand justone grass seed canthreaten aprocessor’sexport licence.
So theMackillop Farm Management Group and Sherwood Precision Management Solutions Group are assessingalternative forage species to enable lambs tobe finished on grass-free paddocks in spring.
A trial site with sevenspecies including ryecorn,Mundah and Moby barley and thosewithClearfield herbicide technologies, such as Scope barley and Grenade wheat, was sown on the Bartlett family’s Tolcairn property at Sherwood in June. Pasture cuts have been taken tomeasure dry matter production.
Site hostRodney Bartlett is hoping the results of theSeed Free Lambprojectwill give growersthe confidence to lamb later and reduce the amount of ewes needing supplementary feeding in late pregnancy and lactation.
Tolcairn’scrossbred lambs are dropped in March withthe aimto turn themoff before silver grass, brome grass, barley grass and geranium become a problemin October.
But Mr Bartlett said he would like to lamb in June.
“Feeding lambing ewes has been a costly exercise the past couple of years,” he said.“And in years like this, there is a lot of feed, but we can’t utilise it.”
Grass seeds in theirwool isalso a concern, forcing them to shear in September.
“It would be good to not lamb with so much wool on them,” he said.
Mr Bartlett says lucerne is king in their deep sandy soils, so the emphasis ison findingforage species to oversow intolucerne stands which willoutcompetegrass seeds. There is also a need torotate herbicide group use, where Intervix for Clearfield varieties may come into its own.
“You can put it (lucerne) in and get 10-15 years out of it but you have to control the grasses,” Mr Bartlett said.
MFMGproject managerFelicity Turner hopes the forage species can provide higher growth rates for quicker lamb turn-offearlier in the season, and the Clearfield cereals will providea grass-free environmentlater in the seasonenabling lambs to be carried through until stubbles become available.
“The area has had a bad rap for grass seeds but we want to showindustry that producers are actively seeking ways to address the issue,” she said.
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