The productivity of grazing sheep was assessed under 7-year-old rubber at the Rubber Research Institute of the Malaysia Experimental Station at Sungai Buloh near Kuala Lumpur between October 1988 and May 1990. The sheep were Dorset × Marlin crossbred lambs and they grazed planted leguminous cover crops and naturally occurring species at a range of stocking rates.
In the immature rubber trial, presentation yields of forage declined with time regardless of stocking rate. In the mature rubber trial, presentation yields of forage were low (<1000 kg/ha) due to low light transmission. High stocking rates (>6 sheep/ha) resulted in a decrease in the proportion of palatable species, namely Pueraria phaseoloides, Paspalum conjugatum, Asystasia gangetica and Mikania micrantha and an increase in the proportion of the less palatable species such as Calopogonium caeruleum and Cyrtococcum oxyphyllum.
Daily liveweight gains ranged from 100 g/lamb per day at 4 sheep/ha to 70 g/lamb per day at 14 sheep/ha in the immature rubber trial. Only the lowest stocking rate of 2 sheep/ha was continuously sustainable in the mature rubber trial. The estimated maximum liveweight gain that could be achieved under immature rubber was 266 kg/ha per year at a stocking rate of 13·2 sheep/ha.