Grass with High Energy Value

KJ Staff
KJ Staff

Grass that improves the performance of livestock whilst reducing their carbon footprint offers New Zealand farmers a real at the winning position. It’s a modern solution to today’s farming challenges and technology that requires no notable change of system. High-performance ryegrasses bred through an innovative and award-winning forage improvement programme are making their mark in New Zealand. Germinal New Zealand is providing animal performance and environmental benefits to New Zealand farmers with their Aber High Sugar Grass (HSG).

In a recently concluded National Forage Variety Trial (NFVT) in Southland, AberGreen was the highest yielding variety in the third year of the trial. It is also the highest yielding variety in late spring south of Taupo. As a result, Germinal NZ is confident that Aber HSG has a fit in every farm system.

Bred at the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Science (IBERS), Aber HSG ryegrasses contain significantly higher levels of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), or sugar, than conventional ryegrasses. This has been verified in independent NZ trials, where data is showing a significant increase in the WSC content of Aber HSG compared with many other conventional ryegrasses.

Independent NZ data has shown a 10% increase in autumn milk solids from cows fed Aber HSG. A Southland based trial run by Abacus Bio demonstrated lambs grazing Aber HSG finished 17 per cent faster and 19 per cent heavier than lambs grazing a standard NZ ryegrass.

Reducing the amount of nitrogen that is excreted means less impact on the environment, specifically in terms of a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, nitrous oxide and ammonia. In New Zealand, the release of methane gas from ruminants amounts to one–third of greenhouse gas emissions. NZ data has shown a 9 per cent reduction in methane emissions from sheep fed on the Aber HSG variety AberMagic when compared to a conventional diploid variety. Similar research has also shown rumen ammonia to be significantly lower in cows grazing Aber HSG.

This science has already been recognised in the UK, where livestock farmers involved in the Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose supply chains are encouraged to use Aber HSG varieties to improve production efficiencies, animal performance and reduce their carbon footprint.

Higher sugar means more energy, and this is significant in the way it helps ruminant livestock improve their conversion of grass protein into meat and milk. In effect, Aber HSG creates a better balance of energy and protein in the rumen, allowing the microbes responsible for the breakdown of forage to operate more efficiently, so more protein is converted to milk and meat, and less is excreted into the environment.

Aber High Sugar Grasses (HSG) represents a significant advance in the nutritional benefits derived from ryegrass pasture. Bred for increased content of water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC), or sugar, Aber HSG varieties offer more readily available energy and are more digestible for dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep and deer than standard ryegrass.

Aber HSG offers farmers real potential to lift animal production on pasture. Another key benefit of Aber grasses is their enduring persistence.

Farmers report that their dense tiller (leaf stem) growth and deep root mass enable Aber HSG pastures to better withstand grazing pressure and pugging, not be pulled out of the ground by grazing cattle and more efficiently tap into available soil moisture during dry spells.

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