Perennial chicory could have a valuable role to play in improving
the grazing performance of English beef cattle and lamb. It also
offers reliable yield on drought-prone land, according to the English
Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) which is currently evaluating the
herb as part of its drive to help producers improve performance
from home-grown forage.
New perennial chicory varieties have shown them to provide high quality
grazing for both cattle and lambs.
Extensive New Zealand studies with new perennial chicory varieties
have shown them to provide high quality grazing for both cattle
and lambs. Indeed, over a number of years varieties bred for improved
performance have proved capable of supporting daily lamb growth
rates noticeably higher than ryegrass, albeit not up to the level
of white clover.
Recent SAC work has further confirmed New Zealand findings that
much of the improved performance from lambs grazing chicory could
be related to reductions of as much as 40% in gutworm burdens compared
to counterparts grazing grass and clover.
There is also evidence that the herb, which has a deep tap root
not unlike red clover, could be beneficial in maintaining the productivity
of grazing leys under particularly dry summer conditions.
It is too early to judge the extent to which the potential benefits
of modern perennial chicory varieties can actually be realised
under English conditions, let alone their practicality and value
in commercial grass-based English production systems.
However, EBLEX considers the opportunity they offer for inclusion
in long to medium-term grass ley mixtures well worth exploring,
and a number of farm studies are getting under way including performance
evaluations of ewes and lambs on perennial ryegrass swards with
and without chicory at Newton Rigg.
EBLEX stresses that any producers keen to explore the possibilities
the forage offers need to be aware that:
· Using the right type of perennial chicory is vital;
· Well-drained soils are preferable and slug control
will aid establishment;
· Broad-leaved weeds need to be controlled before
· Plants of less than 150-200 mm are susceptible
to uprooting by grazing stock;
· Chicory can bolt and become unpalatable if not
· Hard grazing can damage plant crowns, reducing
productivity and persistency; and,
· There is the risk of milk taint if dairy cows
receive too much of their diet as chicory.
English producers interested in finding out more about chicory
should contact EBLEX on 0870 2418829 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details of planned summer and winter events.
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