January 30, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Lamb performance in hardwood silvopastures, I

Interpretive Summary: Lamb performance in hardwood silvopastures, I: animal gains and forage measures in summer

By: Anne Wallace

Silvopasture is a form of sustainable agroforestry, which plants trees on land used by grazing livestock. Trees in turn provide shade for animals while having the potential to benefit animal wellness and performance.

In this study published in the January 2020 issue of Translational Animal Science, researchers compared forage production and animal performance of lambs grazing in black walnut silvopasture, honey locust silvopasture, and an open pasture system.  Forages consumed, and nitrogen and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of forages in each system were evaluated, as well as lamb weight gains.

Nitrogen content was greater in silvopasture forage compared to open pasture forage. The NDF content was less in honey locust silvopasture, when compared with black walnut silvopasture and open pasture. Lastly, no differences in animal performance were noted for the three pasture systems in this study.

The results of this study did not find any benefit to lamb weight gains in the two silvopasture systems when compared to the open pasture system, although the number of lambs studied were few. Nitrogen content of forage was greater in both silvopasture systems, suggesting there are differences in the nutrient composition of silvopasture forage when compared to open pasture forage. Larger and more comprehensive studies evaluating silvopasture forage and potential gains to animal welfare and performance may be warranted.