Have you considered forage rape?
With summer around the corner, now is a good time to start considering feed supplies going forward, especially over the drier summer months.
If you have suffered from the excessively wet winter and have damaged pastures, rather than re-sowing pasture, an alternative option is to use a forage brassica such as rape as a break-crop within a renewal programme.
Forage rape can be spring or late summer sown. It builds a bulk amount of quality feed for a fattening option or in dairy situations as an alternative to areas where summer turnips don’t do well due to drier conditions. The development of inter-species hybrids Goliath® and Titan™ forage rapes, have challenged our thinking as to how we can use them in the
farm system. Now we can carry them over an entire 12 month period from a spring sowing or late summer sowing to produce a bulk feed over winter. To capture the true benefit of Goliath and Titan, feed allocation is critical. This is best achieved by a block rotational grazing system for lambs or daily break shifts for cattle. It is important that the grazing system allows animals to have a fibre supplement intake with sufficient residual left behind to allow the plant to regrow for possible second, third and fourth grazing’s. Like all high value forage crops, transitioning between feeds is important to reduce animal health issues and allow animals to achieve performance earlier.
The scope to how we use forage rape has also increased with Goliath® and Titan™, which can now also be used in combination with other forages such as Italian ryegrass
or undersown with clover/herb mixes. The reasoning is to increase the flexibility in how the crop can be used and to capture opportunities during the season such as changing store stock prices. For example, a number of PGG Wrightson hill country customers use a combination of Titan™ or Goliath™ forage rape with Feast II® Italian ryegrass. On hill country, highly controlled feed allocation can be difficult so the mixture with grass means more flexibility; lambs can be finished over summer using a three to four block rotational grazing system, then shut up for feeding to lambs/hoggets and/or cattle over winter. If care is taken with grazing management the grass is allowed to regrow to support lambing ewes in spring. More recently dairy farmers have been using Goliath as a substitute to summer turnips as it can tolerate drier and lower fertility conditions better. Fed in a similar manner to turnips, milking cows are offered 4-5 kg DM per day, as a complement to other components of the diet such as pasture and maize silage.
As a sole stand of forage rape or in combination with mixtures it is the flexibility that forage rape has that makes it worthy of further consideration in a grazing system. However it is important to understand that selection of forage rape species is based on days to maturity, Goliath is later at 90 or more days compared to Titan at 70 or more days. One of the most undervalued options available is Cleancrop™ forage rape. Cleancrop is a system that allows a broad spectrum herbicide, Telar® to be applied at sowing and the brassicas are tolerant
to the application. The advantage of using Telar is that it can be applied in different sowing styles, including oversowing and direct drilling. It also works even in dry conditions and can be applied at relatively low water rates. What has been demonstrated with Cleancrop rape is that the cultivar itself is one of the best, a high yield potential with a high leaf to stem ratio which is important for animal performance.
To fully understand how the forage rapes can be integrated into your farm system and the appropriate option is selected, talk to your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.
Article supplied by PGG Wrightson Seeds