MORE than 100 graziers, agronomists, service providers and extension staff visited Bruce and Lucinda Mayne’s Calliope, Qld, property ‘Fairview’ recently to see the results of a live weight gain trial on leucaena paddocks.
During the past nine months, the Maynes have agisted 100 head of cattle from nearby ‘coastal’ properties on both their native grass pasture paddocks and their leucaena and sown grass pasture paddocks as part of a trial to compare the live weight gain from leucaena and native grass pastures.
The cattle were provided by Calliope graziers Philip and Claire Mann of Wycheproof, Edward and Kara Quinn of Voewood and Will and Kate Wilson of Calliope Station.
The field day, organised by The Leucaena Network, the Mayne family, DAF and agricultural consultant Ross Newman, focused on the live weight gain comparisons between the native grass and leucaena pastures, and the innovative ways in which Bruce Mayne is improving his property with leucaena plantings.
Mick Sullivan, Rockhampton Beef Extension Officer reported that over the 262 days from 29 May 2020 to 15 February 2021, the average daily weight gain for steers grazing the leucaena and signal grass pastures was 0.653 kilograms per head per day.
The steers grazing native pastures gained 0.440 kilograms per head per day.
On 15 February 2021, the steers on the leucaena were 59 kg heavier than those on the native grass pasture (450 kg v 391 kg).
“As expected, the weight gains from the leucaena pastures were higher, however the weight gain of steers in the native grass paddock was better than expected due to the cattle having access to Hymenachne and Para grass in a lagoon.” Mick said.
“Cattle on coastal native grass pastures would normally only maintain weight in winter or experience weight loss”.
Kylie Hopkins, Beef Extension Officer Rockhampton, presented the results of Faecal NIRS analysis of samples analysed to date.
“The diet crude protein and dry matter digestibility data show the much higher quality of the diet on the leucaena and sown grass pastures. Another interesting component of the work is the Delta Carbon analysis showing the increasing percentage of leucaena in the diet as the dry season progressed,” she said.
Bruce Mayne and independent agronomist Ross Newman were generous in sharing their knowledge and experiences in implementing Fairview’s pasture development program.
By converting 60pc of the 1600 hectare property to leucaena and improved pastures over a six year period, the program aims to increase carrying capacity from 660AE to 1200AE.
Mr Mayne said he felt that while the total cost of the property development may seem expensive, (in the order of $1500 a hectare); the costs can be justified when the rise in production levels is applied.
“By undertaking the land improvement activities, carrying capacity has doubled and there is significantly increased weight gain. This is only early days, but it is encouraging when you consider that we have only received 60% of our average rainfall in the last three years.”
“Obviously there have been some activities that are more ‘experimental’, like planting leucaena into man-made banks on low production Narrow Leaf Iron Bark ridges. This shows a lot of promise; but we don’t have any data on it yet.”
Ross Newman concurred.
“Through serious investment in ‘Fairview’s’ land, soil and pastures, Bruce and Lucinda have been able to improve the quality and the quantity of dry matter when compared to its previous native pasture base.
“This lift in forage production, coupled with a significant improvement in diet quality with leucaena will result in ‘Fairview’, when fully developed, turning off up to three times the original liveweight turn off of 100,000 kilograms,” he said.
“In this coastal environment, there is usually never an issue in growing a large body of pasture, however, feed quality becomes the limiting factor. Leucaena and sown grass pastures provide a higher quality diet for a longer period and particularly in autumn and winter.”
Full details of the live weight gain data from the ‘Fairview’ trial are available at www.leucaena.net.
It is planned to conclude the trial with sale of the steers at the CQLX Special Weaner and Feeder Sale on 31 May 2021.
Source: The Leucaena Network