Revive and thrive – time to rebuild feed security
If you’ve spent more on supplements than you budgeted for recently, you’re not alone. It’s been a really challenging year feed-wise.
But every challenge comes with opportunity.
In this case, it’s a chance to strengthen your system for the season ahead, and ideally build some more security into your farm grown feed supply for 2022/23.
Where’s the risk?
One way to tackle this is to look closely at when, how and why on-farm feed growth failed to meet animal demand during the 2021/22 season.
Was the system compromised at one single point, or were there multiple, compounding causes of feed shortages?
Is your ‘normal’ plan for spring sowing still fit for purpose in today’s unreliable climate? If there’s one thing you could have done differently to grow feed last season, what would it have been?
Pick and mix
With spring sowing coming up, now’s the time to look at all the options for reducing your reliance on imported supplements, and restoring or enhancing your productive base.
Happily, there may be more options than you think! As well as the summer standards of 501 Chicory and Dynamo turnips, for example, kale can grow good summer feed. Or you might find oversowing Captain plantain into run-out pastures is a better fit for you.
Interval rape can also help increase farm grown feed, as do mixes of cultivars, such as chicory and Morrow red clover.
Plus there’s grass
Forage crops and herbs are only part of the potential package. Different ryegrasses may well help balance future gaps between farm feed supply and animal demand, too.
Depending on your farm system, perennial, Italian and hybrid ryegrasses offer a wide range of seasonal growth, persistence and flexibility.
Many choices are available; there’s no one size fits all solution, and what works for you may be quite different from your neighbour. In all cases, however, planning ahead will give the best result.
What’s the score?
After a hard season, it’s always a good idea to condition score all your pastures, so you know how much (or little) they are likely to grow in the months ahead.
Some will continue producing reasonably well, given the chance. Some will be thin, open, weak and weedy. Others will be best cropped this spring.
Be sure to check new pastures sown last autumn. Many of these did not establish well, and will need extra care this spring, so they have a chance to get strong before summer.
Here to help
It’s not always easy to work out what’s needed to restore farm feed supply after a hard season.
For more ideas, book your free Pasture Health Check today at https://www.barenbrug.co.nz/book-a-visit