Plantain-clover mixes have high metabolisable energy content and have been shown to support greater liveweight gains in lambs both pre- and post-weaning when compared with grass. The aim of this experiment was to determine if a plantain-clover mix could be used as a means to wean lambs earlier. Twin-bearing ewes (n=67) with both lambs at a minimum live weight of 16 kg each were allocated to one of three treatments; 1) ewe and lambs together on grass, 2) ewes and lambs together on plantain- clover mix, 3) lambs weaned at approximately 8 weeks of age onto a plantain-clover mix and ewes on grass. Lambs that were weaned early were lighter (P<0.05) at approximately 14 weeks of age than those which remained with their dam on either a plantain-clover mix or grass (32.3±0.43 vs 34.7±0.44 vs 33.7±0.45 kg, respectively). However, ewes which had their lambs weaned early were heavier (P<0.05; 79.7±1.73 vs 75.5±1.68 vs 75.9±1.64 kg, respectively) and in better body condition score (P<0.05; 3.1±0.05 vs 2.9±0.05 vs 2.9±0.05, respectively) than those which remained with their lambs on either a plantain-clover mix or grass. This suggests early weaning improved ewe condition but did not improve lamb performance

LM Cranston, RA Corner-Thomas, PR Kenyon, and ST Morris

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 76, Adelaide, 65-68, 2016
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