CQ steer study: How diet change beefed up cattle by 59kg
Cattle from Calliope properties were recently studied as part of a trial to compare live weight gain.
Cattle graziers, agronomists, service providers and extension staff from Central Queensland attended the Leucaena Field Day in Calliope last month.
Field day hosts Bruce and Lucinda Mayne agisted 100 head of cattle on nearby properties for the past nine months as part of a trial to compare the live weight gain from cattle on 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.
Rockhampton Beef extension officer Mick Sullivan reported over 262 days, the average daily weight gain for steers grazing the leucaena was 0.653 kilograms per head per day compared to steers on signal grass pastures, which was 0.440 kilograms per head per day.
Mr Sullivan said the steers on the leucaena were 59kg heavier than those on the native grass pasture (450kg v 391kg).
“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,” Mr Sullivan said.
“Cattle on coastal native grass pastures would normally only maintain weight in winter or experience weight loss.”
Rockhampton Beef extension officer Kylie Hopkins presented the results.
“The diet crude protein and dry matter digestibility data show the much higher quality of the diet on the leucaena and sown grass pastures,” Ms Hopkins said.
“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”.
Field Day host Mr Mayne said converting 60 per cent of a 1600 hectare property to leucaena and improved pastures over a six-year period would increase carrying capacity from 660AE to 1200AE.
“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,” Mr Mayne said.
Agriculture consultant Ross Newman said through serious investment in land, soil and pastures, graziers could improve the quality of dry matter when compared to its previous native pasture base.
“In this coastal environment, there is usually never an issue in growing a large body of
pasture, however, feed quality becomes the limiting factor,” Mr Newman said.
“Leucaena and sown grass pastures provide a higher quality diet for a longer period and particularly in autumn and winter.”
It is planned to conclude the trial with sale of the steers at the CQLX Special Weaner and
Feeder Sale on May 31 2021.