Trials are being carried out on four UK farms working with ADAS in the hope of overturning outdated concepts about red clover and sheep fertility. As part of the trial, groups of ewes will be grazed on forage containing at least 10% red clover before and after tupping to see if there is any influence on pregnancy rates. Farmer’s perceptions of the legume were impacted by research undertaken 50 – 60 years ago suggesting that red clover negatively impacted ewe pregnancy rates. Although red clover contains phyto-oestrogens which can lead to reduction in ovulation rate, this is only apparent at high levels of feeding, with indicative studies grazing ewes on 100% red clover. The new trial hopes to overturn outdated perceptions and highlight the benefits of utilising red clover in forage which include a high protein and dry matter content resulting in high growth rates of livestock.
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FarmingUK: Trial to see more breeding sheep benefit from grazing red clover