Grazing Cereal Crops

Mid-north consultant, Mick Faulkner, and farmer Ben Przibilla, talk to us about the benefits of grazing cereals, and provide some management tips.

One of the real problems I guess with mixed farmers is the feed gaps and farmers have identified there are three main feed gaps during their season. And of course depending on their production system it depends on the intensity and the duration to those figures. There are a number of farmers out there that sow cereals simply so they can get early feed production.

Cereal Crops Produce More Dry Matter

I’ve worked in terms of the research and others across Australia show cereals , cereals produce far more dry matter early than any other species generally we would say that the dry matter production of Barley is quicker, so there’s more dry matter from Barley than there is from Wheat but probably the most important thing is plant numbers. So if you’re going to sow something you want graze early, then really get the plant population up is the most important thing.

A cereal crop is safe to graze, as you can pull it out of the ground. So that can be on a heavy soil, sown slightly deeper. That can be, yeah, probably at the two least stage. It doesn’t really matter how many DSE’s we’ve got because what were going to do is shift the sheep from one paddock to another so allow them to have something to eat while the dedicated pastures actually establish.

Controlling Excess Crop Growth

Of course it can also be used for controlling the excess growth that we can get when we sow early. We might sow a wheat crop and know that there’s plenty of nitrogen and plenty of water, it’s going to grow too much and we can use that resource for livestock delay the maturity perhaps of the crop itself but just as importantly reduce the biomass so it doesn’t high off by using too much water.

If we are looking at grain recovery and so we’re grazing a paddock but we want to get as close to the maximum yield as we possibly can from the grain from that paddock, it is important to remove the stock before growth stage 30. At growth stage 30, the growing point of the plant moves from being at ground level or below ground level to above ground level so that the head is actually presented above the ground. If the stock graze right down, they can actually and remove the head of that main tiller.

Crop Growth Stages

The first stage 30 is not so easy to determine when we’re grazing the paddock because the stocker, because they’re grazing and delaying maturity. So the only real way of determining when growth stage thirty is, is actually to get out there and put an exclusion cage in the paddock, or have a paddock adjacent to it that’s the same variety, set on the same time and you can monitor.

When it reaches growth stage 31 when you can find the first node above the the base of the plant, then it’s time to remove the stock from the paddock. The choice is for grazing for removing the stock is very much in the hands of each individual farmer there is no recipe other than if we want to get them maximum yield of grain we can grow stage 30 at a time.

Check it every few days with your to take them out with your barley they can bear it right out as long it’s a certain growth stage like a a growth stage 30 you take them out as long as it’s not after that, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. It seems to grow back as if they haven’t been there, so it works well.