Sward Characteristics and Nutritive Value of Two Cultivars of Subterranean Clover

  • Ru, Y.J. (Department of Agronomy and Farming Systems, The University of Adelaide) ;
  • Fortune, J.A. (Grains Research and Development Corporation)
  • Received : 1999.02.10
  • Accepted : 1999.04.06
  • Published : 1999.12.01


Two cultivars of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.), "Dinninup" and "Seaton Park" were sown at Shenton Park Field Station, Western Australia, in May 1992 and 1993. The characteristics of Dinninup related to animal production were compared with Seaton Park under grazing conditions with herbage utilization efficiencies of 60% in 1992 and 65% in 1993. The results showed that Dinninup and Seaton Park had similar dry matter digestibility (77-78%) and dry matter production (1,290 kg/ha in 1992; 930 kg/ha in 1993) before flowering initiation even though Dinninup had more (p<0.05) branches, leaves and petioles per plant. After flowering, the herbage on offer of Dinninup was higher (p<0.05) and dry matter digestibility was lower (p<0.05) than that of Seaton Park while the sward structure was similar for both cultivars. The variation in nutritive value among plant parts increased with maturation. Leaf was more digestible than stem and petiole with a higher nitrogen content, and stem had the lowest dry matter digesitibility and nitrogen content in late of the season. Sheep did not show any preference for Seaton Park over Dinninup. The predicted bodyweight gain of sheep grazing pure Seaton Park and Dinninup swards using Grazfed software indicated that sheep grazing Dinninup were predicted to have a similar bodyweight gain in early growing stage and a significantly lower gain after flowering compared with those grazing Seaton Park.

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