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Forage crops boost carrying capacity, finishing

Forage crops boost carrying capacity, finishing ability

For immediate release
With photos from Agriseeds
320 words

Specialist forage crops are helping turn traditional store country into finishing land for increasing numbers of sheep farmers pressured by current market returns and rapidly changing land use.

As the swing to dairy support continues to eat up cultivatable land, hill country farmers have cranked up the carrying capacity of their most productive paddocks to finish as many lambs as possible, rather than sell them store.

Fast-growing forage brassicas like Interval deliver rapid liveweight gain for high numbers of lambs over summer when pasture is limited in both volume and quality.

“There’s been a marked swing to forage crops on farms which once would have sold the bulk of their lambs down-country for finishing,” says Jason Gardner, upper South Island area manager for Agriseeds.

“Much of that land has now been converted to dairying or dairy support, and hill country farmers themselves are choosing to finish those lambs to extract as much profit out of them as possible at current prices. To do so, they need extra feed, and plenty of it, which can sometimes be a challenge in dryland conditions.”

With yields of 8 - 10 t DM/ha, and ME levels of 10 - 12, Interval is a tall forage rape which is ready for grazing 80 - 100 days after spring sowing and has good re-growth potential. It also has good tolerance of dry weather.

On farms which were hammered by grass grub last season, this type of crop has another major advantage, Jason says.

“Grass grub damaged paddocks won’t grow much - if at all - over summer. Sowing them into Interval will help recover that lost DM production.”

Recommended sowing time for Interval is from now through mid-November. After it’s finished, farmers can sow new permanent pasture to continue improving their carrying capacity for the long term. Alternatively they can follow Interval with a high-yielding Italian ryegrass crop for winter feed.

Ask your seed merchant for more information on Interval rape.

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