Summer and autumn feeding costs can be cut dramatically by adopting
a multi-graze management strategy with selected fodder crops, says
British Seed Houses.
The new utility brassica Swift.
With the appropriate management, a number of recently introduced
grazing brassicas offer second and often third grazing opportunities,
allowing establishment costs to be spread across significantly
increased dry matter tonnages.
Multi-graze fodder crops currently available include the grazing
turnip variety Appin and the new utility brassica Swift, whilst
the new leafy turnip Fieldfare to be introduced next year will
offer the most rapid regrowth potential yet.
“Forage brassicas have traditionally been seen as a single
grazing crop in the UK, but our experience in other parts of the
world with some of the newer varieties shows that a multi-grazing
strategy is perfectly possible,” says Michael Shannon of
British Seed Houses.
“The key management point is to avoid damage to the crown
of the plant by moving the stock on whilst there is still 5 – 10
cm of growth above the ground. This is best achieved by increasing
stocking rate and reducing the grazing time.
“Once the grazing session is complete, apply nitrogen fertiliser
at 35 – 40 kgN/ha, in anticipation of a 4 – 6 week
regrowth period for Appin grazing turnips or Swift.
“Assuming your original crop has provided in the region
of 3-4,000 kgDM/ha of available fodder, you can expect around 75%
(2,500kgDM/ha) from a second grazing, and then as much as 60% (2,000kgDM/ha)
from a third grazing in some cases.
“Bearing in mind that the only additional cost is the fertiliser,
your overall cost/kg DM is going to be cut by a minimum of 40-50%
by adopting a multi-graze strategy.”
Michael Shannon says that multi-grazing can be used with all classes
of ruminant livestock, including dairy cows, but is a particularly
effective method of fattening lambs.
“If strip grazing with cattle it may be advisable to use
a back fence to protect the regrowth, whilst with sheep it is often
better to split paddocks into smaller areas to allow animals to
be moved on more quickly.
“In addition to Appin and Fieldfare grazing turnips and
Swift, Puna II perennial chicory is an ideal perennial plant for
multi-grazing when grown as a pure stand. This crop can offer rotational
grazing over a period of 3 or 4 years, and can also be included
in grass and clover mixtures.”
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