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Fresh Thinking On Home Grown Fodder
22/09/06

New varieties of fodder crops and fresh thinking on their use should help dairy farmers reduce the risk of feeding deficits in the future by allowing a year-round approach to homegrown production, said British Seed Houses’ Richard Wilkie at Dairy Event 2006.

Richard Wilkie speaking at Dairy Event 2006

Richard Wilkie speaking at Dairy Event 2006

Speaking at the Forage for Livestock seminar on the subject of “Maximising Forage Acres”, Mr Wilkie explained that with the availability of a range of versatile and winter hardy crops, there are now plenty of options that will provide fresh fodder all year round.

Focusing on the specific issues of the recent dry summer and subsequent forage deficits on some farms, he used the example of stubble turnips drilled after maize or cereals as a short-term solution.

“A fast maturing variety of stubble turnips such as Appin, which has been bred for late sowing, can provide quality grazing in 60-90 days and may well be a solution to forage shortages this year,” he said. “This is a leafy and vigorous brassica with the potential to provide dry matter yields of 6,500kgDM/ha at 17-22% crude protein and 12.8MJ/kg ME – so high quality feed.

“The opportunities to establish Appin are greater where ultra early maize varieties are being grown. These maturity class 10 and 11 varieties now offer good yields in a significantly reduced growing window, so after-maize crop establishment is much more viable, whether stubble turnips, rye, or even a ryegrass ley in some situations.”

Mr Wilkie also introduced some innovative thinking on out-wintering, specifically on winter hardy kale varieties.

“Out-wintering is as much about cost saving as it is about the provision of additional fodder,” he said. “The simple premise with out-wintering is that you are reducing the labour and cost of hauling and storing forage to housed cattle by feeding the crop where it is grown. With the right variety and site selection, out-wintering is a viable tactic in the UK that I believe we are going to see used more and more.”

A new booklet from British Seed Houses titled “Cutting Feed Costs and Filling Forage Gaps with Fodder Crops” containing much of the detail of Richard Wilkie’s presentation was launched at Dairy Event 2006.

link New Guide To Cutting Feed Costs With Fodder Crops
link New Utility Brassica Can Counter Grazing Shortages
link BCPC links crop production to food at Glasgow conference

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