A.V. FRENCH1, P.K. O'ROURKE2 and D.G. CAMERON3
1Queensland Department of Primary Industries, P.O. Box 61, Miles, Qld, 4415.
2Queensland Department of Primary Industries, G.P.O. Box 46, Brisbane, Qld, 4001.
3Formerly Queensland Department of Primary Industries, G.P.O. Box 46, Brisbane, Qld, 4001
Six winter forage crops, oats (Avena spp. cvv. Benton and Camelia), barley (Hordeum vulgare cvv. Cape and Clipper), safflower (Carthamus tinctorius cv. Horowitz) and rape (Brassica napus var. napus cv. Dwarf Essex), were planted on a predominantly uniform textured, cracking clay brigalow soil in 1972–74. Winter wheat (Tricticum aestivum cv. Windebri) replaced Clipper barley in 1972. They were grazed at 2 beasts/ha in 1972 and 1974, and 1.5 beasts/ha in 1973, in a 6 × 2 randomised block design.
Plantings had failed in the previous 3 years due to dry weather, and the crops were only marginally better in 1972 and 1973. Only the 1974 sowings gave satisfactory crops and these were planted in May which was later than normal. The crops provided 80 days grazing in both 1972 and 1973 and 112 days grazing in 1974. The highest average daily gains (> 1 kg/head/day) were obtained from Benton oats and Windebri wheat in 1972, despite the poorly grown crop that year. Rape gave consistently inferior livestock performance, possibly due to poor initial acceptance by the cattle. Carcase weights and dressing percentages did not differ between the crops within years. The cattle were satisfactorily finished only in 1974 when dressing percentages averaged 53.2%.