Catch Crop Mixtures
Mixing different species together is becoming more popular as
they provide the opportunity to capitalise on the individual species attributes, whether that be protein, energy or winter hardiness.
These home grown catch crop mixtures are an economical way to provide high yields of quality feed to all livestock and can help reduce the cost of bought-in feed.
This mix will last four years and can be sown as a pure sward or added to a suitable grass mixture to help increase the mineral content of the forage.
The herbs within the mix have deep tap roots, which mine minerals from the soil depths making them available to the livestock via the forage.
Grazing hard over the winter could reduce the persistency.
✚ 1.25kg Barblanca White clover
✚ 0.75kg Tonic Plantain
✚ 3.00kg Choice Perennial chicory
✚ 5.00kg/0.5 ha
The higher inclusion of forage rape within the mix will help protect the turnips from winter damage making it is suitable for autumn or winter utilisation.
It will produce valuable forage with minimal effort.
✚ 1.95kg Rampart Forage rape
✚ 0.75kg Rondo Stubble turnip
✚ 0.30kg Kale
This mix will establish fast and will provide valuable forage for autumn utilisation. It has good disease resistance with high palatability throughout the grazing season.
✚ 1.20kg Rampart Forage rape
✚ 0.60kg Samson Stubble turnip
✚ 0.90kg Rondo Stubble turnip
✚ 0.30kg Kale
✚ 3.00kg/0.5 h
This mix has been designed using varieties that have improved winter hardiness making it ideal for late utilisation. The Italian ryegrass ensures the crop has improved ground cover to help keep the animals cleaner and can also offer another grazing the following spring.
✚ 1.25kg Rampart Forage rape
✚ 1.25kg Rondo Stubble turnip
✚ 6.50kg Italian ryegrass
✚ 9.00kg/0.5 ha
Utilising Autumn Keep for Finishing Store Lambs in North Yorkshire
Supplying over 3000 finished lambs a year into deadweight and livestock markets, Roger Donaldson is a significant store lamb finisher.
The basis of this is using forage mixtures to grow lambs to a finishing weight, sowing over 150 acres of Autumn Keep and Meat Maker a year.
Autumn Keep is sown after winter and spring barley is harvested, to feed the store cattle on the farm. Forage crops are then sown from late June through to Mid-September.
“We like to have Autumn Keep through and away by the middle of July, but have sown Meat Maker into September, if needed” says Roger.
Forage crops are ready to be grazed 12 weeks from sowing onward, but crops can be left well into the new year, to provide feed right up to March.
“We find the forage rape and kale in Autumn Keep hold the leaves of the turnips up, allowing them to fill out and tolerate frost” he explains
The tankard-type stubble turnip, Samson, is quick to establish, competitive with the forage rape and utilises well with lambs.
Roger’s soil type is mainly free draining sandy loams, with some areas of sandy clay loam. Fields are mainly level with gutters around them for drainage. Site selection is important to ensure livestock wellbeing, crop utilisation and limited environmental effects.
Lambs are grazed at around 15-20 per acre for around 8-10 weeks. Fields are set up with some fall-back on to grass headland and strawed areas, with water and mineral supplements. Turnips are block grazed with fences moved once a week to provide fresh grazing.
Once lambs have a suitable frame and condition, they are brought into finishing pens for 10-14 days, where they receive concentrate feed. This ensure lambs are clean to slaughter and any required treatment can be carried out. Lambs are finished at 42-46kg to provide a carcass weight of 22kg.
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