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  • Soil Fertility Key to Soil Cropping and Pasture Issue

    Plant nutrition remains the key to successful agriculture. Correcting soil deficiencies, like phosphorus, sulphur, nitrogen and potassium are essential for highest possible yields of pasture and crop for any environment. More fertile soils, as a consequence of correcting soil deficiencies, is also an important part of having the highest soil quality. Fertilisers like urea, superphosphate, MAP and DAP, often referred to as conventional products, are frequently by far the cheapest way to correct deficiencies. Conventional fertilisers commonly contribute to adding to soil organic matter via their effect on greater plant biomass, including root systems. Animal manure, such as poultry or feed lot, can equally correct soil deficiencies plus supply some organic matter. more »
  • Blood Mineral, Trace-Element and Vitamin Concentrations in Huacaya Alpacas and Merino Sheep Grazing the Same Pasture

    We aimed to determine whether the concentration of minerals and trace constituents in blood of Merino sheep and Huacaya alpacas grazing the same pasture differed with species and time of sampling. Blood samples and pasture samples were collected at frequent intervals over a period of 2 years for mineral and trace-nutrient assay. The concentration of the minerals and trace nutrients in the grazed pasture usually met the dietary needs of sheep at maintenance, apart from potassium, sulfur, cobalt and Vitamin E in occasional samples. Restricted maximum likelihood mixed model analysis indicated a significant (P < 0.001) species by month by year interaction for all blood constituents assayed, a significant (P < 0.05) species by coat shade interaction for plasma Vitamin D, E and B12 and a significant (P < 0.001) species by month by Vitamin D interaction for plasma phosphorus concentrations. In general, plasma calcium concentrations were greater in sheep than in alpacas but plasma magnesium concentrations were greater in alpacas than in sheep. There was no consistent difference between the two species in plasma phosphorus concentrations although low values were recorded in individual sheep and alpacas. Plasma Vitamin D concentrations were more responsive to increasing hours of sunlight in alpacas than they were in sheep. Sheep had consistently higher concentrations of plasma copper, zinc and Vitamin B12 and higher concentrations of blood selenium but lower concentrations of plasma selenium and Vitamin A, than did alpacas. No consistent difference was observed between the two species in plasma Vitamin E concentrations. more »
  • Methane Emission by Alpaca and Sheep Fed on Lucerne Hay or Grazed on Pastures of Perennial Ryegrass/White Clover or Birdsfoot Trefoil

    Based on the knowledge that alpaca (Lama pacos) have a lower fractional outflow rate of feed particles (particulate FOR) from their forestomach than sheep (San Martin 1987), the current study measured methane (CH4) production and other digestion parameters in these species in three successive experiments (1, 2 and 3): Experiment 1, lucerne hay fed indoors; Experiment 2, grazed on perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture (PRG/WC); and Experiment 3, grazed on birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) pasture (Lotus). Six male alpaca and six castrated Romney sheep were simultaneously and successively fed on the forages either ad libitum or at generous herbage allowances (grazing). CH4 production (g/day) (using the sulphur hexafluoride tracer technique), voluntary feed intake (VFI), diet quality, and protozoa counts and volatile fatty acid concentrations in samples of forestomach contents were determined. In addition, feed digestibility, energy and nitrogen (N) balances and microbial N supply from the forestomach (using purine derivatives excretion) were measured in Experiment 1. Diets selected by alpaca were of lower quality than those selected by sheep, and the voluntary gross energy intakes (GEI, MJ) per kg of liveweight0·75 were consistently lower (P0·05) in their CH4 yields (% GEI) when fed on lucerne hay (5·1 v. 4·7), but alpaca had a higher CH4 yield when fed on PRG/WC (9·4 v. 7·5, P more »
  • Comparative Productivity and Grazing Behaviour of Huacaya Alpacas and Peppin Merino Sheep Grazed on Annual Pastures

    Adult Huacaya alpaca (mixed sex, mean±S.D., age 5.2±2.7 years, live weight 72.0±9.5 kg) were grazed with Peppin Merino sheep (castrated male, age 3±0.1 years, live weight 54.0±3.9 kg) for 2 years on improved annual pasture at commercial grazing pressures (10–17 dry sheep equivalents/ha) near Melbourne, Australia. Alpacas and sheep gained weight during the first year and then lost weight (proportional loss: alpacas 22%, sheep 20%, NS) before commencing weight gain. Twice the alpacas gained when the sheep lost weight (P more »
  • Successful Pasture Management

    The aim of being successful as a grazier requires the manager to be successful in the task of growing grass. Growing grass is the engine room in driving the profitability and sustainability of the grazing system. Once grass can be grown then it is up to the capacity of the manager to maximize the benefit of this resource. It is very important to understand what the ideal requirements of the animal are, how much energy they require and what the pastures can achieve at various stages of growth. It should always be the objective of the manager to keep the animals above a reasonable condition score in order to maintain the animals' productivity, their capacity to breed, and their capacity to maximize weight gain and fibre production. more »
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