Fodder species to fill the feed gap

Mick Faulkner from AgriLink Agricultural Consultants discuses feed gaps for livestock that occur throughout the year.

He explains how the Mid North High Rainfall Zone group is trialing a range of annual, biannual and perennial fodder species to fill these gaps and the substantial increases in biomass that can be achieved. This work is supported by the GRDC and Caring for Our Country’s Grain and Graze Two program.

It was identified by growers that have a number of feed gaps through the year. Some have a feed gap through summer the more cropping-intense people tend to have stubbles available and therefore their feed gaps begin in late autumn and depending on the circumstances and the individual properties there can be a feed gap before the break of the season, at the break of the season, or following the break of the season into the early winter months.

What the Feed Gap Trials Hope to Achieve

What we are trying to achieve in the trials we have conducting to look at a range of annuals that can be sown to fill those feed gaps but also investigation biennial and perennial options and comparing with the annuals as well. The results indicate already that the most productive species at the start of the year from a sown annual point of view tend to be the cereals, sown cereals, and in some cases farmers have been right all the way along I suppose it’s self regenerated cereals form pretty good pastures.

If we are going to sow them certainly the most important thing is density more so than the species of varieties although there are some definite trends that we would say barley produces more dry matter early than  Triticale oats and wheat. And within those barley varieties. There are some that are stand-outs.

Tetroporid Raw Grasses Useful for Fodder

In early winter once again the cereals are useful but some of the annual raw grasses and specially the tetrapoid rye grasses come into their own. Other passes such as Canola, or fodder bassica’s become useful at that time of year and we start to see some of the legumes, an alternative fodders become very useful i what they can produce. Some of the exciting things we have had a look at.

Some of the species and in the trial here we have melilotus albus, produces phenomenal late winter early spring and perhaps in the later spring production and it’s total season production is greater than any of the cereals. We have some pretty impressive performances from some of the clovers even though they don’t grow at all well at the start of the season or in early winter.

They certainly produce in spring, self generated  serum or Sala is at the start of the year, we can get nothing to produce as much as the self-regenerated sala and even when we compare that to a sown barley. So while there might be some downsides of some of these biennials and perennials in the year of establishment, they can really be powerful producers.

The Second Year of the Fodder Trials

In the second year. In the trial we have some silverbeets, carrots, kohlrabi, turnip I am just trying to prove that they can produce a lot of biomass. The sugar beets and fodder beets in particular I think in previous years we have had production of both tops and tubers of those in the order of fourteen to twenty ton of it hectare, so when you compare that to the three ton or four ton we may be getting from some of the species we have been growing for a long long time we believe there is a lot that we can look forward to.