In NSW dairy farmer Steve Skinner’s view, an ideal rye-grass starts early in the season, finishes late and provides strong growth to drive milk productivity through the winter months.
Steve runs the property ‘Wembley Park’ with his brothers Tom and Mat on the southern boundaries of Dubbo, a fourth-generation dairy operation, which is milking around 750 cows on 1600 hectares of country.
The Skinners grow pastures under centre pivot irrigators, with kikuyu the dominant species through summer, while rye-grass takes over in the colder months.
Steve has grown Thumpa tetraploid Italian rye-grass from AusWest Seeds since 2014, sowing the variety in a mix with five per cent clover to maximise productivity.
Thumpa is a fast-establishing rye-grass which is ideal for both grazing and silage production. Importantly, it also provides both early season winter growth and high quality, late season forage.
The Skinners have planted 60 hectares of Thumpa across four paddocks, with the variety the only rye-grass grown on ‘Wembley Park’.
“2017 was a very dry winter. At one stage we looked like we weren’t going to get any silage from the variety, but rain late in the season meant we were cutting silage until Christmas time, so we still had a really good year.”
The Skinners cut 177 bales off a 12-hectare paddock in November 2017, 335 bales off a 20-hectare paddock in December, followed by a further 142 bales off another 14-hectare paddock in the same month.
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• Story supplied by Stephen Pasture Seeds.