Optimising ewe fertility and lamb survival is the aim of a new project which is being delivered to producers on Kangaroo Island.
The KI Oestrogenic Clover Project will study the impacts of the 2019/20 bushfires on pasture composition and help upskill producers with regard to potential issues associated with oestrogenic clover.
Clovers are a base for many pastures but there are signs that oestrogenic clovers have a long history of impacting on lambing percentages and resulting in dry ewes on the island.
The project will provide producers with the tools and skills to manage pasture production for the benefit of livestock production.
Experts will look at key components through:
- A sheep reproductive efficiency survey, to develop a benchmark for sheep reproductive efficiency on KI and identify potential opportunities for improvement,
- Upskilling of producers in clover identification and assessment of pastures, and development of pasture management plans, through two producer groups,
- Objective assessment of 100 paddocks in the fire scar area for levels of oestrogenic clovers and subsequent laboratory analysis of samples for oestrogenicity from those paddocks,
- Initial investigations into the development of a herbicide tolerant non-oestrogenic sub-clover.
Department of Primary Industries and Regions consultant David Woodard will be performing pasture assessments over the next month.
Mr Woodward said reviews on the past two years of lamb marking percentages was the first step to determining if there was a problem on a property.
"A high number of dry ewes, extended lambing period and/or lambing difficulties may be the result of oestrogenic clovers," he said.
"It is important to seek advice though, as there a number of other issues that can also impact on lambing percentages.
"Knowing the level of oestrogenic clovers in your pasture paddocks is the next step...pastures with greater than 20 per cent oestrogenic clovers may have an impact."