A survey on the East Coast of the North Island was conducted to provide information on the on-farm performance of drought tolerant pastures, including perceptions on animal toxicity problems. During October- December 1990 over 250 paddocks on 102 sheep/beef farms in Gisborne (23, Hawkes Bay (32) and the Wairarapa (47) were surveyed. Botanical composition was measured for each survey paddock from turf cores. No animal health problems were reported for prairie grass pastures, but farmers commented on improved animal performance from this pasture type. Animal health problems mentioned by farmers surveyed were: (1) ryegrass staggers, being reported for 58% of survey farms and 9% of survey paddocks. Ryegrass staggers was usually mentioned for paddocks with a high perennial ryegrass content (>40% cores containing ryegrass). It was mentioned less frequently for mixed ryegrass- cocksfoot swards (>40% ryegrass, >10% cocksfoot) than for swards containing similar levels of ryegrass but little cocksfoot. (2) Bloat was mentioned more frequently for paddocks sown with tall fescue (15%) than for other pasture types (3%). Tall fescue swards had a higher clover content than ryegrass swards. (3) Stock ill-thrift (low growth rate) was mentioned for 6 of the 260 survey paddocks. The common feature of these paddocks was a moderate to high cocksfoot content (21- 72% cores containing cocksfoot). (4) Phalaris toxicity was mentioned by 18% of farmers who had phalaris pastures.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 53, , 83-86, 1993
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