23 | 03 | 2018


Grazing PDF Print E-mail
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 Lucerne is an outstanding legume for grazing because of its high yield, quality and wide adaptability to different climates and soil types.

It is a reliable and economical source of protein because it is independent of the N-concentration in the soil.

The protein is of outstanding quality with a good amino acid profile, especially for non-ruminant animals such as pigs, poultry, ostriches and horses.

Lucerne is an excellent source of Ca, Mg, P, carotene and vitamin D.

Lucerne grazing is mainly used in the following regions in South Africa:

south western Cape, northern and eastern Cape, eastern Free State, North West Province and Mpumalanga.

It is rarely cultivated in the sour, high-potential areas of KwaZulu- Natal because of the high incidence of leaf diseases and the low pH of the soil.


 Lucerne requires a rotational grazing system to ensure good stands at 2-3 years old.

It should be grazed as rapidly as possible for 7-10 days when in the late vegetative stage.

This should be followed by a rest period of 40-50 days before animals are again allowed on it.

Grazing differs from mechanical harvesting in that the photosynthetic material is removed gradually over a period of time, and also removal is not as complete.

Various factors influence the persistence of lucerne under grazing, i.e. the length of the grazing and resting periods, their timing with regard to growth, developmental stage and weather, as well as the grazing pressure. The time interval between grazing periods is the most critical factor.

If the rest period is too short there will be a loss of lucerne plants, and if it is too long, there will be a drop in quality linked to increasing stem:leaf ratio.

The deciding factor is the adaptability of the cultivar.


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