Between genotype variation of lucerne (Medicago spp.) in grazing preference by sheep

Meredith Mitchell1, Kym Butler2, Lysandra Slocombe2, Steve Clark2, Viv Burnett1, Reto Zollinger2, Greg Seymour1, Zhongnan Nie2

1Agriculture Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, 124 Chiltern Valley Road, Rutherglen, Victoria, 3685,,

2Agriculture Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, 915 Mount Napier Road, Hamilton, Victoria, 3300


Lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) is a highly desirable forage species in temperate regions of the world.  With the many lucerne cultivars currently available and/or emerging onto the Australian market, producers may find it difficult to determine which cultivar(s) will best suit their needs.  An understanding of how these cultivars are selected and grazed by sheep may be useful for producers to make management decisions.  It was hypothesised that there will be substantial differences in sheep grazing preference among diverse cultivars. Grazing preference was evaluated on forty-seven entries (commercial cultivars and pre-release lines) at Hamilton, Victoria, in summer, winter and spring of 2017. The plots were rated using a seven-point scoring system (1 = not grazed to 7 = completely grazed) over a 27 h grazing period. The average grazing scores indicated that, with minor qualifications, all lucerne entries evaluated in this study were palatable to sheep.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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