Production, survival and nutritive value of the perennial legumes Dorycnium hirsutum and D. rectum subjected to different cutting heights

Lindsay Bell, G.A. Moore, Mike Ewing, Megan Ryan

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Dorycnium hirsutum and D. rectum are perennial legumes which may have potential for use as pastures for the control of groundwater recharge in southern Australia. Little is known about the quality of the forage of Dorycnium species for grazing livestock or how these species respond to cutting. The effect of cutting height on plant Survival, production of dry matter (DM), the proportion of leaf, edible stem (approximately < 5 mm diameter) and woody stem in the DM and the nutritive value of the edible components was investigated. Biomass above five cutting-height treatments (uncut, ground level, 5-8 cm, 10-15 cm and 15-30 cm above ground level) was removed at 8-week intervals from plots of D. hirsutum and D. rectum from September 2002 to July 2003. In both species, plants subjected to lower cutting height treatments produced less DM above the height of the cut than those cut at higher heights. DM production declined over time in all treatments. Plants cut to ground level failed to regrow after the second harvest in D. hirsutum and the fourth harvest in D. rectum. Thus, these Dorycnium species were susceptible to high severity defoliations at 8-week intervals. Negligible inedible woody stem was present in regrowth of both species after 8 weeks but D. hirsutum regrowth had a higher proportion of leaf (0(.)72) than D. rectum (0(.)56). Plants left Uncut accumulated a large proportion of inedible woody stem in the DM (0(.)69 in both species) by July 2003, particularly at the base of the plant. Edible DM from regrowth of D. hirsutum and D. rectum had crude protein (CP) concentrations of 120 and 150 g kg(-1) DM; dry matter digestibility (DMD) values of 0(.)45 and 0(.)58; organic matter digestibility (OMD) values of 0(.)50 and 0(.)64; neutral-detergent fibre (NDF) concentrations of 370 and 290 g kg(-1) DM; and acid-detergent fibre (ADF) concentrations of 260 and 210 kg(-1) DM, respectively. Medicago sativa, grown under similar conditions, had higher digestibility values (0(.)63 DMD and 0(.)66 OMD) and similar CP concentrations to D. rectum (140 g kg(-1) DM), but higher concentrations of NDF and ADF (410 and 290 g kg(-1) DM). Leaf material from both Dorycnium species had a higher nutritive value than edible stems, with DMD and OMD values of leaf of D. rectum being 0(.)68 and 0(.)74 respectively. Uncut plants had a much lower nutritive value of edible DM than the regrowth from Cut treatments; older material was also of a lower nutritive value. The relatively low nutritive value of even the young regrowth of Dorycnium species suggests that forage quality is a major limitation to its use. Forage of Dorycnium species could be used during periods when other Sources of forage are in short supply but infrequent grazing it is likely to produce forage of a low nutritive value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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