Utilising common vetch (Vicia sativa) as a source of forage protein for grazing ewes

Type Conference Proceeding (Non-Journal item)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe multiple roles of grassland in the European bioeconomy
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 26th General meeting of the European Grassland Federation
EditorsM. Höglind, A. K. Bakken, K. A. Hovstad, E. Kallioniemi, H. Riley, H. Steinshamnm, L. Østrem
Place of PublicationNorway
PublisherNorwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9788217016779
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventProceedings of the 26th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation - Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 04 Sep 201608 Sep 2016


ConferenceProceedings of the 26th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation
Period04 Sep 201608 Sep 2016
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Integrating high protein forages into livestock systems is fundamental to the sustainable development of farming. Typically, the winter period is the most difficult time to produce a home-grown forage protein source as a replacement for purchased feed. During lactation, ewes have a high demand for high quality forage to maintain milk supply. To address this, both a controlled replicated experiment (Aberystwyth University) and participatory research (commercial development farm) were conducted to investigate the effects of common vetch (Vicia sativa) when grown over the winter period and offered to lactating ewes. The findings from the controlled research showed that feeding a vetch/Italian ryegrass mix to lactating ewes resulted in a higher combined ewe and lamb weights but only on Day 35. Participatory research indicated that common vetch had a useful role in providing forage protein to post lambing ewes in commercial farming practice, was able to regrow for several grazing periods and offered an opportunity to reduce N fertiliser. Overall, both studies showed there were no detrimental effects of feeding vetches to sheep and that vetch has the potential to be used as a source of high-protein fresh forage in spring to support lactating ewes and their lambs