Beef production from kikuyu and Italian ryegrass.
Bartholomew, Peter Edward.
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Four grazing trials to characterise cultivated pastures, in terms of beef production, were conducted in Bioclimate 3 of Natal. Dual purpose and British beef type cows were run on kikuyu at stocking rates from 2,81 to 7,30 cows plus calves per ha. During the eight seasons of the trial the seasonal rainfall varied from 580 to 933 mm. There was a positive linear relationship between rainfall and pasture yield with maximum yield of kikuyu being recorded during February - March. Stocking rate affected pasture yields only during favourable rainfall seasons. Crude protein (CP) and crude fibre (CF) of kikuyu fluctuated markedly within and between seasons. However, CP increased and CF decreased as stocking rate increased. There were significant relationships between stocking rate and (a) calf performance, (b) calf livemass gain, (c) period required to attain maximum mass, (d) period on pasture for the cows, and (e) cow mass change: Weaners were run on irrigated Italian ryegrass at 5, 7 and 9 weaners per ha for four seasons. Stocking rate had little effect on the growth pattern of the pasture but affected dry matter yields. Reducing the stocking rate resulted in increased pasture yields and CF content but reduced CP levels of material on offer. Steers exhibited higher gains than heifers but lower carcass grades and stocking rates for maximum gain per ha (SRmax). Livemass gains of 1315 and 1224 kg per ha can be expected at SRmax of 6,85 and 9,54 for steers and heifers respectively. Yearling heifers run at four stocking rates on kikuyu for one season showed a negative linear relationship between stocking rate and gain and a positive linear relationship between pasture height and gain. A SRmax of 8,85 allows for a livemass gain of 1 040 kg per ha. The effect of feeding concentrates on foggaged kikuyu was evaluated. Foggaged kikuyu can be used as a source of roughage for fattening steers. However, as the steers became adapted to the concentrate the intake of kikuyu declined from 39 to 19% of their daily intake. Regressions derived from the characterisation trials allow for developing beef systems for different situations.