Leucaena Thrives in South Queensland

AUSTRALIA - Leucaena plantings are spreading across southern Queensland as more producers recognise the deep-rooted perennial legume’s value in southern pasture systems, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 26 March 2012
clock icon 2 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Leucaena is a permanent pasture traditionally grown in central Queensland on deep, fertile soils with annual average rainfall of 600– 800mm. However, using existing varieties, the spread of leucaena has successfully extended to suitable locations throughout southern Queensland.

Leucaena, grass pastures and forage crops Toowoomba-based agricultural consultant George Lambert runs several MLA Producer Demonstration Sites (PDS) to investigate the suitability of leucaena in southern Queensland.

On suitable landscapes, mixed leucaena and grass pastures are proving very competitive as an alternative to forage sorghum for many southern beef producers.

“Last season at Millmerran, steers on leucaena gained an average of 0.8kg/day for 200 days, while steers on forage sorghum are expected to gain at 0.5 to 0.7kg per day for only half that period at similar grazing rates,” Mr Lambert said.

“The big bonus is that an 18-year-old, very productive leucaena pasture exists in the Chinchilla district,” he said. Leucaena also complements the use of oats in winter.

“Because winter rainfall has been unreliable recently, some producers are using oats as a support crop to leucaena to finish off animals that had not made market weights."

Once established, leucaena is often grazed in southern Queensland from November until the end of May. During that period, the grazing rate averages 1AE/ha depending on soil quality, temperature and rainfall.

Mr Lambert said PDS grazing trials indicated that producers could expect weight gains of up to 1.3kg/hd/day. “However, long term average weight gains using a range of steers are more like 0.8kg/hd/day.”

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