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Forage selection studies 2. diet quality live weight change and wool production of sheep grazing astrebla spp pastures in northwestern queensland australia



Forage selection studies 2. diet quality live weight change and wool production of sheep grazing astrebla spp pastures in northwestern queensland australia



Tropical Grasslands 15(3): 183-192



Esophageal extrusa from Merino wethers grazing Mitchell grass (Astrebla spp.) pastures in northwest Queensland were analyzed for N content, proportion of green material in the diet and digestibility. Fecal samples were analyzed for N content and intake was calculated from digestibility and fecal output data. Maximum organic intake values were 0.45 kg day-1 during the latter part of the dry season, compared with minimum values of 0.11 kg day-1 immediately after the start of the wet season rains. A poor relationship occurred between the N content and the proportion of green material in the diet selected. Quantity of N excreted daily in the feces was relatively constant at 5-8 g day-1. Quantity of N ingested varied considerably from maxima of 19-22 g day-1 to minima of 3-6 g day-1. In 1972, the sheep were in a state of negative N balance for the last 2-3 mo. of the dry season. Average liveweight was relatively constant at 40-45 kg except for the period immediately after the start of the wet season rains when minimum values of 32 kg occurred. Clean wool production, fiber diameter and linear growth rate all responded to the new season's pasture growth at different rates. The annual average fleece-weight during the 3 yr trial period was 3.8 kg head-1.

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