Overview

Aber offers New Zealand farmers a range of proven High Sugar Grass cultivars and a variety of Aber White Clovers that are bred to provide greater tolerance to environmental stresses such as low temperatures and drought conditions.

Benefits of Aber High Sugar Grasses

All farmers want their stock to thrive. Fundamental to that is palatable and nutritious pasture that can recover strongly between grazings, persist well, tolerate heavy traffic when wet underfoot and lift animal production.

Aber grasses have been developed to consistently offer:

  • improved digestibility
  • better nutrition
  • greater animal productivity
  • enduring persistency
  • environmental benefits

Improved Digestibility

Aber High Sugar Grass (HSG) varieties are more digestible because they contain lower levels of fibre and more water soluble carbohydrates1.

Digestibility is a measure of how much of the feed eaten can be used by the animal for metabolic functions including maintenance, growth, milk production and reproduction. Digestibility is measured in the laboratory using synthetic enzymes which simulate the digestion process that occurs within an animal. The results are used to estimate the Digestible Organic Matter in the Drymatter % (DOMD) which is commonly referred to as digestibility. Higher digestibility values are beneficial because they drive higher feed energy values and higher intakes. 

Metabolisable Energy (ME) is the amount of energy an animal can derive from a feed. It is measured in megajoules of energy per kilogram of forage drymatter (MJ/kgDM). There is a direct relationship between digestibility and metabolisable energy. One percentage increase in digestibility (DOMD) equates to an additional 0.15 MJ/kgDM of ME2.

The perennial diploids AberMagic and AberGreen have been shown to have a digestibility of 5.0% and 5.5% respectively higher than another commercially available perennial ryegrass3. This difference is calculated to produce an extra 1.4 –1.5 litres of milk per day from a dairy cow4.

Better nutrition

Aber HSG’s are bred to produce more water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) or sugar energy – delivering up to 17% more WSC than a standard diploid ryegrass5.

As well as more sugar energy the research shows AberMagic has lower levels of fibre than control diploid and tetraploid ryegrasses and less crude protein than a tetraploid ryegrass. AberMagic’s lipid (wax, oil and fat) content, another source of energy, is 15% higher than in standard dipoid ryegrass.

Greater animal productivity

Farmers have seen Aber HSG pasture grazed ‘like a mower’, the lambs stay clean, the bulls more content and the deer reluctant to walk out of Aber for another paddock of conventional ryegrass.

An AgResearch trial showed cows fed Aber HSG produced 10% more autumn milksolids than cows fed a standard ryegrass6. Overseas trials have shown 6% more milk per cow and a 20% higher daily liveweight gain for lambs and beef cattle when fed or grazed on Aber HSG7

Why the increase in production?

  • Aber HSG’s improved digestibility increases the supply of readily available energy to assist in the building more microbial protein in the rumen
  • Aber HSG’s enhanced palatability encourages increased intake of drymatter

Scientists calculate a digestibility gain of 1% enables a dairy cow to produce an extra 0.28 litres per day, a beef animal to produce an extra 40 grams of meat per day and a lamb to gain 20 grams of meat per day8.

AberMagic and AberGreen, being 5.0% and 5.5% respectively higher in digestibility when compared to a standard ryegrass9, offers the potential for dairy cows, beef cattle and lambs to significantly increase milk or meat production.

Enduring persistence

Pasture persistence is absolutely essential but is the easiest trait to lose when plant breeders strive to improve a plant’s forage value.

Aber HSG plant breeders are well aware of this and make strong and dense root and tiller growth a priority.

A trial near Ashburton conducted by Plant Research (NZ) Ltd, showed AberMagic and AberGreen out–performed a popular standard variety for yield in that trial’s third and final year when yields commonly start to diminish9.

Aber HSG pasture sown in 2004 are still persisting and performing on farms throughout New Zealand, providing good ground cover and quicker recovery after grazing and dry spells.

Environmental benefits

Cattle, sheep and deer are poor converters of herbage protein, using only 20% for production with the rest wasted in faeces and urine.

The high level of water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) in Aber HSG grass provide a more readily fermentable energy. Research at IBERS (Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences) shows this increases the capture of rumen degradable protein into microbial protein and reduces the amount of N lost in urine7.

New Zealand research shows rumen ammonia to be significantly lower in cows grazing Aber HSG10.  The improved use of ruminal protein suggested by this data may provide environmental advantages in reducing nitrogen excretion10.

The release of methane gas from sheep and cattle amounts to almost one–third of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, and it is the largest contributor. Methane also accounts for over 40% of all emissions in terms of global warming potential.

The extra water soluble sugars in Aber HSG can change rumen fermentation patterns reducing methane emissions. An AgResearch trail showed 9% lower methane emissions from sheep fed AberMagic when compared to a convenional diploid variety5.

1Cosgrove, G. P.; Koolaard, J.; Luo, D.; Burke, J. L.; Pacheco, D. 2009. The composition of high sugar ryegrasses. Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association, 71: 187–193. 

2Van der Honing, Y, Alderman, G. 1998. Ruminants. In: Livestock Production Science 19:217–278.  

3Plant Research (NZ) Ltd, 2014. Unpublished. Mean digestibility values were measured across five harvests at Ashburton from Oct 2013 to Mar 2014. 

4Walters, R. J. K. 1984. D–value: the significance of small differences on animal performance, In: The grass ley today. Proceedings 18th NIAB. Crop Conference, Cambridge, UK. pg 60–68.

5Jonker, A.; Molano, G.; Sandoval, E.; Taylor, P.; Antwi, C.; Crosgrove 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.

6Crosgrove, 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.

7British Seed Houses. 2012. Aber High Sugar Grasses trial work conducted at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) and on commercial farms. 

8Walters, R. J. K. 1984. D–value: the significance of small differences on animal performance, In: The grass ley today. Proceedings 18th NIAB. Crop Conference, Cambridge, UK. Pg 60–68.

9Plant Research (NZ) Ltd, 2014. Unpublished. Mean digestibility values were measured across five harvests at Ashburton from Oct 2013 to Mar 2014. 

10Tavendale, M.H.; Pacheco, D.; Lane, G.A.; Fraser, K.; Death, A.F.; Burke, J.L.; Hickey, M.J.; Crosgrove, G.P. 2006. The effect of ryegrass varieties differing in soluble sugar content on the rumen fermentation of amino acids and consequences for milk flavour chemistry. Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association 68: 261–265.