Pasture Quantity

Pasture intake by sheep increases in curvilinear fashion as the amount of pasture increases (Fig. 1), but beyond a certain amount (usually >1.2 1.5 t dry matter (DM)/ha or 4 6 cm pasture height) does not increase much because the animals are approaching their intake limit. On sparse pasture (e.g., <500 kg DM/ha), the amount eaten per bite decreases to the point that sheep can no longer compen sate for smaller bite sizes by biting more often, and intakes will be markedly reduced. These general rules are strongly influenced by the physiological state of the animal; young, rapidly growing sheep, or pregnant/lactating sheep will eat more. Based on such relationships, benchmarks such as those in Table 1 have been devised as a guide for sheep producers using sown pastures.

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