Kikuyu is a subtropical grass which is well established in pasture throughout the North Island of New Zealand.
It has many advantages over ryegrass-based pastures in the summer – it is more drought tolerant, resistant to pests such as slugs and crickets, and has low facial eczema and grass staggers risk.
It also has some disadvantages over temperate grasses; it can lose feed quality quickly in autumn and winter unless well controlled, and it is highly susceptible to frost damage, contributing to low pasture cover at calving.
The key to success hinges on changing kikuyu-dominant pastures to ryegrass-dominant pastures in the autumn and winter through a programme of mulching and drilling Italian ryegrass into the kikuyu. This allows the farm to achieve the higher growth rates of ryegrass in the winter and spring, followed by the advantage of kikuyu growth over the summer.