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Feeding Out Multiple Forages

5 April 2019

Fodder crops vary greatly in nutritional value as shown in the table below:

 Fresh Yield (t/ha)Dry Matter (%)Crude Protein (%)D ValueMetabolise Energy (MJ/kg DM)
Fodder beet roots65 - 8010 - 2068013.2
Fodder beet tops10 - 2010 - 1315 - 206510.4
Swedes70 - 909 - 1310 - 1280 - 8214
Kale60 - 7514 - 1618 - 2066 - 6811
Forage rape20 - 3012 - 1418 - 2066 - 6811
Hybrid brassicas25 - 3512 - 1618 - 2266 - 7011

They also host different benefits e.g. fodder beet achieves a high yield, kale is cold tolerant meaning it is winter hardy and hybrid brassicas can offer summer, autumn and winter grazing.  Growing different forages across a field and grazing down through the mix, allows the benefits to be maximised of each individual crop, while also balancing the nutrition of the animal.  For example, in a normal winter the high protein fodder beet leaves often die back leaving the roots for grazing which are low in protein. Kale is winter hardy and high in protein, grazing both crops simultaneously would allow for an excellent source of both protein and energy for growing animals.

This method can also be integrated using EFA land such as EFA green cover, where a temporary crop should be established in the autumn, made up of two crops e.g. alfalfa, barley, red clover, white clover, mustard, oats, phacelia, radish, rye, triticale or vetch.

Kirsten Williams, kirsten.williams@sac.co.uk 

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