With production costs continuing to increase, forage crops that can be grown on farm can offer many benefits. There are many forage-crop options and all should help to reduce bought-in feed costs, extend the grazing season, and provide an excellent break crop and entry back into a grass reseed.
Forage crops are a cost effective way to supplement rations during times when fodder may be scarce – during drier spells in the summer and the cold winter months. They can supply substantial quantities of palatable material at relatively low production costs, balancing the amount of bought-in feed required. Many of the forages are grazed and utilised in the field (grazed in situ). Recommended inclusion rates should be between 35% and 60% of total dry matter.
Root crops are often used as a break crop between grass leys, due to the risk of frit fly. This can cause considerable damage to autumn grass reseeds. Eggs are laid on or near grass plants and the larvae tunnel into the centre of the plant, causing dead hearts. By establishing a summer break crop, which is fast growing, the frit fly is denied a food source.
Forage rape or hybrid brassicas have a vigorous growth habitat and a crop can be utilised within 10 to 14 weeks after sowing. Hybrid brassicas such as Swift, Spitfire or Redstart, or a mix of hybrid brassica and forage rape, all have high energy and protein grazing supply for cattle during the summer period, when grazing availability may be low.
For more information contact your local forage specialist or call 0330 678 1200.
The hot, dry 2018 summer has been favourable for maize silage quality. There is a noticeable difference in the quality of maize harvested in 2018 compared to 2017. Higher levels of starch recorded in crops means it is important farmers are aware of the nutritional opportunities and challenges that the silage poses and its p...