Timing the key to optimising home-grown feed

By Dairy News

WITH CLIMATE conditions causing the price of grain and hay to soar, maximising home-grown feed is one way for farmers to reduce their reliance on external sources of feed.

But choosing the right feed to sow in spring shouldn’t be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and farmers should seek advice to ensure that they maximise the growing opportunities in their region.

“There are many options to fill feed gaps, depending on your location, the condition of your existing pastures, and the needs of your animals,” said research agronomist Damien Adcock of Heritage Seeds.

Mr Adcock suggests that the best approach to choosing what to sow is for farmers to first identify when they will need the feed, and to work backwards to determine the timing and suitability of specific varieties within their farming system.

“Farmers should consider if the feed will be grazed or cut and conserved as hay or silage for later use. They also need to consider the energy needs of their animals through the season and choose fodder species that will meet those requirements at the right time.”

In southern parts of Australia where conditions are milder through summer farmers might consider sowing chicory or Lucerne or over-sowing pastures in September with Italian or hybrid rye-grasses for fast silage.

Likewise, spring oats, oats and vetch or peas and oats are considerations for specialty silage and hay crops that offer a variety of grazing or conservation potential.

Farmers looking for crops high in energy and protein can sow forage brassicas such as turnips and forage rape in late September and October.

Meanwhile, northern farmers might look at sowing sorghums, millets and maize to boost their fodder supplies.

Whatever their circumstances, Mr Adcock said growers should seek advice on options to meet their specific needs.

“Farmers should consult with their agronomist to determine the optimal solution for their particular situation.

“There are plenty of great varieties available that will ensure that farmers can grow with confidence and maximise their home-grown feed supplies,” he said.

• Article supplied by Heritage Seeds.