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Boost production with Aber High Sugar Grasses

All farmers want the best production from their farming systems, and that’s where Aber High Sugar Grasses really come into their own.

This range of grasses have been specifically bred to improve animal production and pasture persistence, while also offering environmental benefits.

Aber High Sugar Grasses have increased concentration of water soluble carbohydrates, delivering up to 17% more than a standard diploid ryegrass1. This provides more energy to the rumen microbes, allowing Aber HSG to be more efficiently digested, thus increasing animal production.

An AgResearch trial showed cows fed Aber HSG produced 10% more autumn milk solids than cows grazing standard ryegrass2.

In another New Zealand trial, lambs grazing Aber HSG finished 17% faster and 19% heavier than lambs eating a conventional perennial ryegrass3. The enhanced palatability of Aber HSG also encourages increased dry matter intake from livestock.

Ruminant animals are poor at converting herbage protein, generally only using 20% for production with the rest excreted in urine and dung. The increased water soluble carbohydrates in Aber HSG allows more of the rumen degradable protein to be captured, and reduces the amount of nitrogen lost in urine.

The release of methane gas from sheep and cattle significantly contributes to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, but local research has shown a reduction in rumen ammonia in cows grazing Aber HSG. Similarly, sheep grazing Aber HSG have shown a 9% reduction in methane emissions1.

Persistence is vital when making an investment in a new pasture, but it can be an easy trait to lose when plant breeders are striving to increase dry matter production from a grass.

“Aber HSG plant breeders are well aware of this, and make strong and dense root and tiller mass a priority,” says Sarah Gard, Trials and Product Development Manager for Germinal New Zealand. “There are Aber HSG pastures throughout New Zealand which are now more than 10 years old and they are still persisting and performing on farm.”

Data from long–term trials throughout New Zealand also support the increased and reliable persistence from Aber HSG. Farmers say the dense tiller and root mass enables Aber HSG to better withstand grazing pressure and pugging.

“It doesn’t get pulled out of the ground by grazing livestock as easily and it recovers faster from dry spells,” says Sarah.

AberMagic is a diploid perennial ryegrass that is the first of a new generation of Aber HSG cultivars bred for even higher sugar levels. The resulting increase in palatability means stock are grazing the pasture cleanly and evenly. Taranaki farmer Paul O’Rorke says his cows really like the high sugar grass. “They graze it hard so they are eating more and they seem happy and content.”

The even grazing means farmers don’t need to top the Aber HSG, saving time and money.

AberGreen is the latest diploid perennial Aber HSG available to New Zealand farmers. It is the first ryegrass variety to offer close to an optimum balance of energy to protein. Like AberMagic, AberGreen is very densely tillered and has been proven to have superior late spring yields.

Sheep and beef farmer Andrew Young, from Tapanui, says AberGreen “is exceptional in spring. It’s very palatable and my lambs on the Aber average 400 grams a day when everything is going well and they look healthy, stay cleaner and were 2.5 kg heavier at tailing. The AberGreen is a very good grass.”

Two tetraploid Aber HSGs are available as well. AberGain is a tetraploid perennial HSG that is densely tillered, providing improved recovery from grazing and pugging. AberNiche is a tetraploid Italian ryegrass, with meadow fescue also included in its breeding for increased stress resistance, winter hardiness and drought tolerance.

1Jonker, A.; Molano, G.; Sandoval, E.; Taylor, P.; Antwi, C.; Cosgrove, G.P. 2014. Methane emissions by sheep offered high sugar or conventional perennial ryegrass at two allowances. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 74: 145–147.

2Cosgrove, G. P.; Burke, J.L.; Death, A.F.; Hickey, M.J.; Pacheco, D.; Lane, G.A. 2007. Ryegrasses with increased water soluble carbohydrate: evaluating the potential for grazing dairy cows in New Zealand. Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association 69: 179–185.

3Craig, H.; Fennessy, P.; McLean, N.; Chuah, J.; Campbell, A. 2014. High Sugar Ryegrass. Report on project prepared for Alliance Group Limited and Germinal Seeds Limited.

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