K. F. Thompson
Farm Advisory Officer (Animal Husbandry) Department of Agriculture, Dunedin.
The feeding of hoggets in winter is costly and time--consuming.
Hay, root crops or conct~ntr::i.tes arc used on some runs, while others use extensive improved-tussock blocks for wintering hog- gets. Supplements are fed to try to maintain liveweight gain throughout the winter.
High country wintering systems have been studied, and arc discussed in this article. The Hogget Survey (Thompon 1971) discussed in the May Review has been cont:nued with the same 200 hoggcts on each run being weighed during the winter. An additional flock has been recorded to high-light a different win- ter-feeding system.
Winter Growth Rates
The 1970 winter in North Otago was mild, without snow lying for any long periods but all hoggets lost liveweight during the winter.
TABLE I Hogget Winter Liveweights in North Otago/High-Country Flocks, with different Feed Systems
Time of Weighing
May Septern- Live- ber weight Flock Feeding System L/wght L/weight Loss I. Merino No supplement - im- II.> lb lb
proved tussock block 64 60 4 2. Merino No supplement - im-
proved tussock block 60 52 8
3. Merino Lucerne hay 67 59 8
4. Corriedalc No supplement - im-
proved tussock block 71 66 5
5. Halfbred Grain and hay 73 67 6
6. Halfbred Turnips 57 53 4
7. Halfbred Hay and nuts 71 63 8
Our recording showed that hoggets kept growing during the autumn until mid June. Liveweight loss occurred throughout the winter until late September, then fast growth rates were measured in the spring.
Grain is easily spread on frozen ground £rom a hopper or direct from bags. In lh.is case the hopper contains three days' £eed. The spread of grain should be kept to a minimum.
Photo: K. f. Thompson, from a transparency.
FEEDING SYSTEMS No Supplements
Three flocks had no supplementary feed but had the advant- ages of warm, sunny, and improved tussock-blocks. The warm nature of blocks facing the north and west are an important factor in reducing the extent of liveweight loss, with little cost.
Flocks 1 and 4 are the Tara Hill Merino and Corriedale flocks. These hoggets were wintered on one improved tussock block stocked at three per acre.
The main mob hoggets (flock 2) had two improved tus.sock blocks, and were shifted from one block to the other every three to four weeks. Stocking rate was about two hoggets per acre. For comparison a small mob was wintered on tussock.
As expected the stocking rate was much lower at 0.25 hoggets per acre, or four acres per hogget. Liveweight los.5 for each group was similar.
rBL!-: 2 \\inter Lhe"cight Lo for Hoggets OD Impro\Cd and Nathe Tm ock
1\pc .. r l"ctd
Im pm,·<•cl T u~sor k Nntivr Tussock
Time or \\' c:i~hing
Ma> September LiV<'\•Cight Livcwcigh1
Although these hoggeu, loc;t 8 lb li\'Cweight Lhis compare.-.
favourably '" ith other supplcmentar} feeding system<:.
Lucerne ha} wru used to i.uppkment the grazing of hoggrL-.
on partl} impro,·ed hill blocks tocked al three to four hogget.-.
per acre. These were shifted about eYel) lhrce weeks bct,,cen block-.. Hay feeding <;tarted in mid July with one bale per I 00 ho,~xcts. Feeclin.~ out wa' at the bottom of the blocks and the ration increased ru, hoggcts became accustomed to hny. A full rn.tion of three bales per 100 hoggct.s was fed daily until mid 'cplcmber. B} this time ho~gcts had been fed I ,Y4 bait~
each, and loc;t 8 lb livcwei~ht
Grain and Meadow Hay
Oab and meado\\ ha} fccdin~ -,tarted in earl) June \\·ith nock 5. B} late June full rations of l lb of oats per head, and I
Yibales per 100 h~~eLS \\Cre fed C\'el) second day. upplc- mcntaf} feeding
''ascontinued until the end of cplembcr.
These hoggcts were fed 21b of oa1s per head every second day. They eat quickly bu1 show li11lc sign of gorging or discomfort.
Photo: K. F. Thompson, from n 1ranspurcncy.
Two busheL5 of oats and I
Y4bales of meadow hay per hogget were fed and yet 6 lb liveweight was lost.
A crop of turnips, chou and ryegrass is sown each year for Flock 6. Some 1,500 hoggets have four hours daily on a five acre break. The rest of lhe time they spend on a large run-off with a very small amount of hay. A new break is opened each 10-·14 days.
The daily on/off system of feeding turnips requires a con- siderable labour input and growth rates have not been particu- larly high. Set stocking was considered the best alternative.
A group of 100 hoggets were locked on one-third acre and were given a new break every l 0-14 days at the same time the break was changed for the main mob. The stocking rates of approxi- mately 30 hoggets to the acre were the same for each group.
The Jocked on hoggets had no run-off and were not fed hay yet their growth rates were far higher than expected.*
TABLE 3 Winter Liveweights for Hoggets on Turnips either Locked or On/off Daily
Type of Feeding
Time or Weighing
The Jocked on hoggets did not appear to eat any more, in fact they did not clean up their break as well as those hoggets that were on/off daily.
lt is suggested that growth is limited by the stress of waiting each day to be hunted on to turnips, and after eating as much aS possible, being hunted off, after four to six hours.
When root crops are being fed to any group of animals they should have continuous access to a break. If a run-off is being used as well, there should be continuous access to this also.
The 1,600 hoggets consumed 45 acres of turnips.
•There may be cohabitation problems in a large mob not presented in small mobs run separately. Mr Thompson has reported that 1,600 hoggcts in this flock were locked on turnips this season and gained 91b over the winter. Labour-savings in this practice are another advantage.
Hay and Nuts
Sheep nuts were fed to complement hay as a winter feed in flock 7. Hay feeding commenced in early July, with full rations of two bales per 100 hoggets fed by mid July. Sheep nuts were introduced at the beginning of August, and before the end of the month hoggets were being fed 0.1 lb nuts per head daily.
Feeding finished in early September when hoggets were shorn.
They had 1
Y2bales of hay and 2lb nuts per head but lost 8lb liveweight.
Comparative costing of these wintering systems is difficult owing to the value each runholder places on different feeds.
Costs differ when feeds are re-sold items or harvested by the run-holder or contractor. For balanced comparison two methods of costing are considered. The production cost is the cost to the runholder who makes and harvests winter feed with his own machinery. For the purpose of study "commercial value" of feed is the price that these feeds can be purchased or sold by the runholder.
TABLE 4 Comparative Cost of Feed Used in the Different Wintering Systems
Type of Wintering
No supplement Lucerne hay Crain plus hay
Turnips Hay plus nuts
Amount of Feed per
I }'4 bales 2 bus. oats
l ~ bales 2 lb nuts
Cost per Hogget Production Commercial
Cost Value of Feed 17c
74c 53c 46c
74c An annual cost of I 7 c per hogget for topdressing tussock blocks is charged against " lo Supplement." The value of graz- ing in the other cases has not been considered. Proprietary feeds have been charged at their retail price.
Sunny improved tussock blocks are the cheapest and easiest method of winter feeding. The liveweight loss measured in this survey is not excessive, and is quite acceptable where there are facilities for growing hoggets well in summer.
Turnips and swedes are excellent hogget winter feeds as they are accessible to them and well liked. Where there is a risk 0£ snow lying for several days ebou moellier should be included in the crop mixture.
A Lincoln College photo.
A root crop is the cheapest form of supplementary feed and is the most likely to give liveweight gains. A maintenance ration can be cheaply fed and give satisfactory results. Scott and Kelson ( 1970) showed that swedes and turnips, compared with man- gels, fodder beet, and chou moellier, gave the best hogget growth rates in recent trials at Invermay.
Lucerne, if purchased, is expensive. It's greatest value as a hogget feed is in summer for growing weaned lambs or two tooths.
Concentrates are expensive, and should be used only to com- plement other feeds, or in cases of emergency. Introduction of
hogget~ to ~beep nuts can be difficult. The best system I have seen is to place the nuts in the salt boxes used by many run- holders. In this way ration feeding can commence after two weeks.
The general liveweight loss by the groups of hoggets is sur- prising, especially when the cost of winter feeding is considered.
Two explanations are offered for the lack of growth among the hogget<> fed supplements:
The level of feeding the supplement was inadequate.
Additional stress was inflicted either by the method of feeding the supplement, or by temperature where the feeding was in a
cold situation. This stress increased the feed requirements for maintenance.
Level of Feeding
Hoggets lost weight from mid June t:ntil mid September.
The feeding systems reviewed did not reach full ration feeding until mid July or later, so hoggets were half way through winter before a full ration was fed.
A 75 lb hogget requires 1% lb lucerne hay per day for main- tenance, and when weather conditions are cold or wet the feed requirements will be higher. To feed a maintenance ration of hay over the winter period, 160 lb or three bales per hogget is needed. It is obvious that feeding levels recorded in this sur- vey were below maintenance for most of the winter.
To make winter feeding efficient, feed levels should be either increased to maintenance level, or reduced to a minimum level to prevent excessive weight loss. The extent of the weight loss that can be accepted without adversely affecting production is uncertain. The 8 lb loss measured in this survey has not had an extreme effect on susequcnt production. However, the question should be answered shortly by Mir G. Davis, Scientist, Tara Hills High Country Research Station, who is studying hogget wintering.
Methods of feeding often impose stress on hoggets that pre- vent them from making satisfactory liveweight gains.
This was clearly shown in the comparison between hoggets locked on turnips and those going on and off daily. The only difference between these mobs was the shifting of the on/off hoggets. By leaving hoggets locked on with continuous access to the turnips they were able to eat as much as they wanted when they wanted to.
Hay feeding methods have been studied by other workers.
Lewis ( 1968) showed that weekly feeding of hay to ewes, com- pared with daily feeding, did not affect production. The same total quantity of hay was fed to both groups. This system of feeding hay could be adapted for hogget feeding.
The feeding system used should provide minimum stress to hoggets, and allow full opportunity to grow. Wintering systems with less stress usually have the lowest labour input.
For convenience, winter feeding on runs is often on areas adjacent to the homestead and farm facilities. Feeding is usually in paddocks where there is a colder climate than on sunny blocks. This temperature difference affects hogget growth more than is generally appreciated. A lot of the value of winter feed can be lost as hoggets in the colder conditions on the flat will eat a considerable amount of the winter feed just to keep warm.
Both the methods of feeding and the local temperature placed stress on the hoggets and caui;ed them to stop growing. Thi-;
type of stress can be greatly reduced by changing their manage- ment.
The hogget5 in the survey were drenched regularly through the winter. Wonn drenching, started at weaning, should be continued through the winter to July or August, to maintain health in the animals until they have developed their own immunity.
In this survey of seven high country flocks, hoggets lo t weight between mid June and mid eptembcr. This general weight loss was unexpected as the wintering systems used were planned to maintain growth ratc5.
Levels of winter feeding were generally below maintenance, and full rations were not fed until halfway through the winter.
Hoggcts had already lost weight at this stage.
Stress from the method of feeding, and feeding in cold areas have been discussed as factors limiting hogget growth.
Wintering hoggets on sunn) and warm improved tussock blocks is the cheapest system. Although some weight I~ will occur this i<> the most satisfactory method of wintering when there is no !'now risk.
A root crop of turnips and Chou moellier is recommended when there is snow risk, or where no suitable hill block is avail- able.
Lucerne is best used as a grazing feed to grow big hoggets and two tooths, instead of as an expensive conserved winter- feed, when little hoggct growth can be expected.
Assistance and interest from the managers and staff, Ribbon- wood, Omarama, Otamatapaio, Otekaieke and Mt. Dasher stations are gratefully acknowledged. Also, the practical field assistance from Mr W. Richards, New Zealand Department of Agriculture, Oamaru, is appreciated.
Lewis, K. H. C., 1968: J\.Z. Soc. Animal Production. 28, 83-93.
Scott, R. S., and Kelson, A., 1970: Invcrmay Research Centre Fa1 mers' Conference. p. 18.
Thompson, K., J 971: Rev. Tussock Grasslands Mount. Lands Inst.
POINTS FROM REVIEW - PASTURE OR SUPPLEMENTS lnOation will this year tempt many rarmers to economise on sup- plementary reeds and for some who do so, severely, it will probably prove unwise. But most properties have an infinite capacity to do stock well on permanent pastures and where these are utiJised properly the need for supplementary reed is correspondingly less. Some points from recent articles in Review are:
i. Ensure the flock enters winter in forward condition.
(Russel, 21: 66-7; Vartha, 21: 38; O'Connor, 2 I: 17 .).
ii. Make maximum use of pasture as standing conserved forage.
(Vartha, 21: 40, 22: 51.)
iii. For wintering choose a micro-climate and soil type where an extended season of pasture growth can be expected and cold stress minimised.
(O'Connor, 19: 117; Vartha, 22: 62; Thompson, 22: 87.)
iv. Give emphasis to permanent pasture husbandry, especially lucerne (White, 20: 33-41; Douglas, 20: 42-8), tall fescue and cocksfoot•
(Vartha, 22: 62), natural and modified tussock pasture (O'Connor, 21: 16-9).
v. IC the flock cannot be wintered on the above guidelines or stocking rates are high, grow a forage crop for hoggets - turnips if no snow- risk, turnips plus choumoellier if there is; and choumoellier for ewes**
(Thompson, 22: 86-93).
Keep hay, ensilage or concentrates on hand for emergencies and Oexibility.
• Timothy is another good winter grower and for cattle. prairie grass where suited. Loills major is a bloat preventive and should be over- sown or hayed on damp lightly grazed tussock wastes in proximity to clover-based pastures and in any pasture laid down where management and locality suit the species. There are other bloat inhibitors - to be described in later issues of Revie111.
** Greenfeed cereals grow well in winter but should be undersown with red clover to spread costs -red clover and adventive grasses arc excellent for hoggets in the following autumn. For the wintering of cattle readers are referred to the lnstitute's "Beer Cattle on Tussock Country" to be released soon.