Please wait...

Subscribe to AWI's free e-newsletters

Be informed of important news, events and action alerts


Mixed forage systems incorporating native perennials could provide the answer to more sustainable and profitable livestock production and land management. With the right management, livestock perform well on diverse plant mixtures offering a wide range of plants in their diet. Research indicates that shrubs can contribute up to third of the dry matter intake of sheep.

AWI supported the Enrich program to explore the role of Australian native shrubs in grazing systems in the low-medium rainfall sheep/wheat zone. Enrich modelling showed that a 'typical' farm in the target zone could increase whole-farm profit by 15 20 per cent by including 10-20 per cent perennial forage shrubs to:

  • Reduce supplementary feeding during the summer/autumn feed gap.
  • Allow grazing to be deferred on other parts of the farm at the break-of-season and more pasture to grow elsewhere.
Merino sheep eating a forage shrub.

The Enrich team identified over 100 shrubs, trees and creepers native to the sheep/wheat or semi-arid zones that are palatable and have:

  • Adequate plant growth rates, and re-growth after grazing.
  • A growth form and height within the reach of sheep.
  • Good nutritive value, particularly protein, fibre, mineral contents.
  • Good digestibility.
  • The ability to reduce methane emissions by ruminants like sheep.
  • Bioactivity or intestinal worm control properties.

Further Information

Perennial forage shrubs - from principles to practice for Australian farms (PDF 4Mb). It covers important information about how to design and establish a shrub system on farm, what to plant where, and what to expect.

Perennial Forage Shrubs providing profitable and sustainable grazing - key practical findings from the Enrich project. Download a copy (PDF 2.0Mb) or order a free hard copy by calling the AWI Helpline on 1800 070 099.

Read the March 2015 Beyond the Bale article: Shrubs provide profitable option on marginal land

Nutritive Value of Rangeland Plants - AWI funded a review of the nutritive value of rangeland plants. The report compares feed quality data with actual animal performance from pastoral zone feeds, and documents pastoral woolgrowers' use of cost-effective, environmentally sustainable supplementation strategies. Download the report here (PDF 511Kb).