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Supplementing native pastures with leucaliva llucoclpiala cv. Peru (leucaena) in an extensive beef cattle production system

D.C. Cooksley and C.J. Paton

Queensland Department of Primary Industries, "Brian Pastures" Pasture Research Station, Gayndah. 4625.

Cattle grazing native pasture in the southern spear grass zone (1) usually lose night during the winter dry season. At a stocking rate of 3.7 ha steer , turnoff age is approximately 31/2 years at a liveweight of about 500 kg (1, 2). This paper reports early results from a demonstration of an extensive grazing system at "Brian Pastures", designed to arrest winter weight losses using Leucaena ZeucocephaZa cv. Peru (leucaena) (3) to supplement native pasture. The oibjective is to achieve a final liveweight of between 460 and 480 kg hd at 21/2 years of age.


Each year after weaning in June, 52 crossbred cattle enter the system. In1 the first year stocking rates are 1 ha hd native pasture plus 0.2 ha hd of leucaena. In the second year animals utilize double the area of both forages. Plots of leucaena are grazed in addition to native pasture during winter and spring, using a rotational grazing system of 3 weeks on and 12 weeks off. Pasture yield and composition are measured regularly and cattle weights recorded every 3 weeks. Liveweight gains of 6 - 18 months old cattle grazing in a concurrent stocking rate trial are used to predict gains of unsupplemented animals at the same stocking rates as those used in the system.

Results and Discussion

Access to leucaena prevented the usual winter/spring poor weight gains or weight losses and resulted in gains that exceeded, and were less variable than, those predicted for similar cattle grazing only native pasture during winter and spring from 1979-81 (Table 1). In this system dry matter yields of native pasture were always adequate (> 3 000 kg ha ) for animal production and yields of edible leucaena before grazing in June 1979 and 1980 averaged 930 and 740 kg ha respectively.

Table 1. Seasonal liveweight change (kg) of cattle grazing native pastures "with" and "without" a leucaena supplement during winter and spring


More time is required fully to evaluate this system. These results were obtained in two dry years and yields of leucaena can be expected to increase in higher rainfall years, thereby increasing the nitrogen supply to the system.

1. Rickert, K.G., and Winter, W.H. 1980. Trop. Grassl. 14: 239-245.

2. Mannetje, L. 't 1979. A.Rep. Div. Trop. Crops and Past. CSIRO (Aust.) Brisbane 1978/79 p. 8.

3. Wildin, J.H. 1981. Sum. Paps XIV Inter. Grassl. Congr. p. 448

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