What’s better than a great crop of kale?
A great crop of kale animals will happily eat between March and September, depending on when you need the feed.
“It’s like a six month feed bank you can tap into at any time,” says one dryland red meat producer in Canterbury. “I love the flexibility of it.”
That six month feed bank is Bombardier easy graze kale from Barenbrug; the farm is a 14-15,000 stock unit breeding, finishing and trading unit in Scargill Valley with average annual rainfall of 650 mm, and the farmer is Hamish Murray.
Four years ago he started sowing Bombardier in spring to buffer what can be brutally dry summers and autumns.
He was using rape. But he wanted something with a longer grazing window, and better stem quality. So Bombardier, with its high energy stalks, got the tick after 12-15 years away from kale.
Ready to graze by March, it’s been ideal for maintaining or flushing ewes in dry seasons, with the benefit of still being palatable and nutritious enough to winter yearling trading cattle through September if autumn is kind.
“If we don’t need that feed in autumn – which we haven’t the last two seasons – we can just push it into winter, and that reduces our reliance on supplements,” Hamish says.
“That’s given us a lot of flexibility, as well as feed quality that is so much better than rape, meaning utilisation is very good. The high ME stalks are what really got me into it, and the fact they stay palatable no matter when we graze it.”
Fodder beet is the only other option that could be fed over such a long window, but it’s not something Hamish has been interested in on his soils.
“I’m very much aware of where I sow this kale, and also graze it with the right type of stock. On heavy soils, it’s brilliant for sheep. On lighter soils cattle are a great fit.”
The farm totals 1780 ha in two blocks, and carries 6500 Headwaters ewes with 1600 hogget replacements, plus 700 trading cattle. Lambing averages 145-150% and in good summers Hamish aims to quit all surplus lambs prime on the premium Lumina programme, which means they have to be finished for 35 days on chicory and red clover.
Seed for Bombardier easy graze kale is available for spring sowing now. Ask your seed merchant about it today.