Managing grazing and silage acres in these conditions, and knowing what short-term alternative feeds and forages are available will help avoid shortfalls in winter.
Sow Westerwolds to provide a bulky cut this year and help mitigate winter feed shortages. The recommended sowing rate is 13 – 16 kg / acre. It can be sown now and into very early august. The disadvantage is that it is not the most winter hardly grass, so it can struggle in a harsh winter. It is also only a one-year crop.
An alternative would be to sow and Italian catch crop which may not yield as much as Westerwolds this autumn but would be better through the winter, and would be suitable for up to two years. You would expect to see better yields in the spring from Italian catch crop due to its better overwintering capability.
There are various options to look at for autumn/out-wintering stock and these could be forage rape, stubble turnips (or a mixture of the two – rapid root or wintergraze), spitfire hybrid brassica or Zoom brassica mix.
Forage rye is suitable for early turnout of cows and good winter keep for other stock. It has a flexible sowing window after cereals or maize and can be zero grazed or big baled.
If maize harvest is earlier this season there will be more opportunities to sow a crop after maize. Options for this would obviously be a cereal crop but for forage it could be either Italian catch crop at a sowing rate of 13 – 16 kg/acre or forage rye.
The table below shows alternative feed options available nationally from ForFarmers and how they can be used as alternates to forage in shortage situation.
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