28 May 1999

Clover boost for feed

WHITE clover and grass silage proved better as a conserved feed than grass silage alone or red clover and grass silage.

But red clover may have potential to achieve better results in future.

IGER researcher Richard Dewhurst said initial trial results from last winter showed the mixed grass and white clover silage improved performance for both beef and dairy cattle compared with the other silages fed.

Beef animals achieved growth rates of 0.7kg a day on grass silage, 1kg with white clover and grass and 0.83kg with red clover and grass. For dairy cows the white clover increased daily yields to 32 litres compared with 27 litres from grass silage, at the same concentrate level. But he believed the results from feeding red clover and grass silage could be improved.

"We are still learning about red clover in terms of optimum cutting dates, which are more critical than were thought. We may make better red clover silage with four cuts rather than three," said Dr Dewhurst.

An IGER study by Evan Jones and Nigel Scollan using the three different swards for grazing beef cattle last summer also showed that a white clover and grass increased liveweight gain. On a grass and white clover sward beef animals gained 1.14kg a day, on red clover and grass they gained 1.09kg but on grass alone they only gained just 0.76kg a day.