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This report documents the practical and economic feasibility of on-station harvesting and production of speargrass hay and haylage and its subsequent feeding to cattle and sheep in the extensive regions of south-eastern Western Australia. Four hundred and ten bales weighing an average 275 kg were produced from a total harvested area of 40.6 ha in the vicinity of Duck Dam on Kanandah Station. In the lead up to harvesting, seasonal conditions were among the best on record. Half of the bales produced were further processed into haylage. Two feeding trials, involving wethers at Arubiddy and steers at Kanandah, were undertaken to evaluate animal performance when freely fed either speargrass hay or haylage, with or without access to supplements. The findings indicate speargrass swards on the Nullarbor Plain can be successfully harvested and made into reasonable quality hay, but the harvesting window of opportunity is short and choosing the best harvesting time is essential. Yields of speargrass hay compared favourably with those of other native grass pastures reported by other workers elsewhere. Wrapping the hay to produce haylage did not improve fodder quality. Speargrass hay supplied sufficient levels of nutrients to maintain livestock, and on-station speargrass hay production on the Nullarbor was a cheaper option than importing hay. Based on our findings, if the highest estimated cost of on-station production is used ($153/t), feeding costs are $1.15/hd/d for cattle and $0.15/hd/d for sheep. Alternatively, if the lowest estimated cost of production is used ($64/t), feeding costs are $0.48/hd/d for cattle and $0.06/hd/d for sheep. Additional supplements can significantly improve livestock performance. The quality of speargrass hay produced has not deteriorated over the duration of this project. On-station production of speargrass hay presents a lower environmental risk in terms of introduced weed infestation than importing hay from other areas, but the option would only be commercially viable for those producers with diversified enterprises and/or off-station income.
Number of Pages
Pastures, Western Australia, Livestock feeding
Agricultural Science | Meat Science
Krebs, G L, Rouda, R R, and Van Wyngaarden, S P. (2003), On-station production of native Speargrass hay in Western Australia. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth. Bulletin 4598.