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Using automated supplementation systems to meet growth targets for grazing sheep

Bowen, M.K. and Pepper, P.M. and Winkleman, J.L. and McPhie, R.C. and Winter, M.R. (2008) Using automated supplementation systems to meet growth targets for grazing sheep. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 48 (9). pp. 1201-1209.

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA07412

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au/

Abstract

Remote drafting technology now available for sheep allows targeted supplementation of individuals within a grazing flock. This paper reports results of three experiments. Experiment 1 examined the weight change of Merino wethers allowed access to either lupin grain or whole cottonseed 0, 1, 2 or 7 days/week for 6 weeks. Experiment 2 examined the weight change of Merino wethers allowed access to either lupins or a sorghum + cottonseed meal (CSM) supplement 0, 2, 4 or 7 days/week for 8 weeks. Experiment 3 investigated the relationship between five allocations of trough space at the supplement self-feeders (5–50 cm/sheep) and the weight change of Merino wethers allowed access to lupins 1 day/week for 8 weeks. In all experiments, the Merino wethers had free access as a single group to drinking water and low quality hay in a large group pen and were allowed access to supplement once per day on their scheduled days of access. No water was available in the areas containing supplement, but one-way flow gates allowed animals to return to the group pen in their own time.

There was a linear response in growth rate to increased frequency of access to lupins in Experiments 1 and 2, with each additional day of access increasing liveweight gain by 26 and 21 g/day, respectively. Similarly, the response to the sorghum + CSM supplement was linear, although significantly lower (P < 0.05), at 12 g/day. Providing access to whole cottonseed resulted in no significant change in growth rate compared with the control animals. In Experiment 3, decreasing trough space from 50 to 5 cm/sheep had no effect on sheep liveweight change.

It was concluded that the relationships developed here, for growth response to increased frequency of access to lupins or a sorghum + CSM supplement, could be used to indicate the most appropriate frequency of access to supplement, through a remote drafting unit, to achieve sheep weight change targets. Also, that a trough space of 5 cm/sheep appears adequate in this supplementation system.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© CSIRO.
Keywords:Precision nutrition; rangeland.
Subjects:Technology > Technology (General)
Animal culture > Sheep
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Deposited On:02 Mar 2009 01:20
Last Modified:17 Jun 2011 02:24

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