Summer Fodder Crops
Summer fodder crops are an extremely valuable, highly digestible feed source, which is often forgotten about by famers. By January/February when feed is limited, farmers will wish they had a crop of Brassica, Rape, Turnips, Millet or Sorghum as they produce large volumes of feed and are relatively inexpensive to establish. By sowing a summer fodder crop a paddock will be in much better condition for sowing. By leveling and working in spring it cuts down the preparation time enormously and in most situations it is simply a matter of direct drilling in your permanent pasture.
Hybrid Forage Brassica’s
Hybrid Forage Brassica’s are increasing in popularity due to their more flexible sowing times. Hybrid’s can be sown from Autumn, Late Winter, Spring and Summer if moisture
permits. Hybrids provide bulk, quality forage and have the ability to graze multiple times. Hybrid Brassica’s will provide the quickest feed of all the fodder crops.
Rapes will produce a large volume of feed from relatively small costs; however they do require more management. Rapes need to mature prior to grazing to get the nutritional benefits from the crops. The newer varieties have better tolerance to pests and diseases as well as superior regrowth after grazing.
Turnips also produce large volumes of seed when you consider the light sowing rates. Turnips are a valuable feed source as both the tops and the bulbs can be utilized.
Millet will provide valuable fast growing forage from January through to May and is suitable to all classes of livestock. At no stage will millet cause stock health issues. Millet can be sown with rape and turnips and will grow on a wide range of soil types. Millet is a very viable cheap option on areas considered marginal or have low fertility.
Sorghums need to be sown when the soil temperature reaches 16 degrees and rising. Once established, sorghums can be grazed or cut for hay/silage. Sorghums will regrow strongly once grazed if moisture permits. Adequate soil preparation is the key to success with sorghum crops.