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Fast Forage Options

2 May 2018

With the inevitable lower yield of grass this year, due to the delayed spring, the pressure to get lambs growing and away is ever greater to preserve forage supply going into the winter.  In addition, there is no doubt some fields need attention.  This could be an opportunity to establish some short term, fast growing grasses in order to fill the forage gap in the back end.

Italian and hybrid ryegrasses are quick to establish and offer good fast growing options, which grow later into the year and maintain quality. Italian ryegrasses will grow fast, they will provide two good cuts of silage in the first year and then offers a good quality late summer pasture for weaned lambs too. They are short living, however, lasting up to two years.

Hybrid ryegrasses are be better quality in the summer than the Italian ryegrasses.  They have greater ground cover and usually last up to three years.  Hybrid ryegrasses will, however, be lower yielding overall than Italian ryegrasses in the first year.

With bare fields, there is opportunity to save on cultivation costs by scratching the seed into the surface with a grass harrow and broadcast method.

For many, the short term solution could be the one to alleviate the forage pinch this year.  The alternative may be to sell more lambs store. This will hit profitability but may be necessary to refill forage stocks and ensure grass availability for flushing.  It is tough decisions like this that may be necessary to reduce the ramifications of spring 2018 having further reaching impact.

Poppy Frater

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