Tropical Grasslands (1997) Volume 31, 494–502

Stability and productivity of Stylosanthes pastures in Australia.
II. Animal production from Stylosanthes pastures


1CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
2QDPI, Mareeba, and
3Tropical Beef Research Centre, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia


Native pasture is the major forage resource grazed by beef cattle in northern Australia. Cattle growth rates and annual production levels from these pastures often fall well short of those needed to satisfy market demands for well grown young cattle or high quality carcasses. Various technologies have been and are being used to improve production and enhance the producer's ability to meet market requirements. In this paper, we review and discuss the use of technology based on pasture legumes from the genus Stylosanthes. The annual liveweight gain advantage to cattle grazing stylo-grass pastures compared with grass pastures is usually in the range of 30–60 kg/head. This advantage has been recorded in central and northern regions and appears to be independent of the length of the growing season. Seasonal growth rate varies between years and is often similar to grass alone in the early wet season. In the late wet and dry seasons, the advantage due to incorporating stylo can average 250 and 150 g/hd/d, respectively. These increases are associated with increased stylo selection at these times, as well as higher nitrogen and digestible energy intake. In northern regions in particular, oversown pastures can be grazed at 2–3 times the rate for native grass pastures, whereas in the southern region, no increase in stocking rate is recommended. Although these oversown pastures are presently robust and productive, additional management inputs may be needed in future to maintain balanced stylo-grass pastures. The increased flexibility that stylo-grass pastures offer producers enables them to target herd and market requirements better.

Download full article (677 KB PDF)  

  Return to Contributed Articles