Cost effective summer feed

Cost effective summer feed

26 July 2020

Finding a summer forage option that will last and meet both feed and budget requirements through a dry summer is crucial for Brendon O’Leary, who farms 210 cows on a 62 effective hectare dairy farm near Hamilton.

Last Spring, Brendon’s Farm Source Technical Sales Representative (TSR), Sarah Henderson, recommended Choice chicory having seen its yield potential and disease tolerance, as well as experiencing its outstanding reputation in the market. Choice is bred in New Zealand for our conditions, and with its deep tap root and warm season dry matter (DM) production potential, it’s proven to be the best option for Brendon’s farm system.

Having grown chicory before, Brendon was aware that timing and paddock preparation are key to ensuring plants establish fully before the summer dry kicks in and that weeds are controlled in good time.

“Choice is a highly valuable crop, so treat it with respect. It’s going to provide a lot of high-quality feed when done right,” says Brendon.

In the first week of October, Brendon drilled 10 hectares (ha) of Choice at 10 kilograms per ha (kg/ha) into a fine, firm seed bed, which proved to be a great recipe to control weeds and achieve good establishment while there was still moisture available.

Brendon started grazing his Choice paddocks in the first week of December and followed a 20- to 24-day rotation feeding 4.5-5 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) per graze. Having had five solid grazings out of Choice, Brendon has been very impressed with how it has performed.

“It’s been a tough season to test it in, but we can’t fault Choice. It has provided consistent quality over the summer driving milk production, and we’ve found no other feed option that gives us that quantity and quality as good as chicory for the price we can grow it!,” says Brendon.

Chicory is a great way to balance out the fat evaluation index (FEI) as it is high in quality and protein. When grass intake lowers through the summer months, Chicory is an ideal way to achieve this and reduce the risk of gradings.

With this in mind, Brendon feeds the cows grass in the morning then moves the cows to the chicory during the heat of the day to increase feed intake a couple of hours before milking but also to ensure the cows are getting a good balance of grass and Choice.

To get the best result when finishing the chicory in the autumn, spray it out before the cows graze it – otherwise, it can hugely compromise the investment made on your new grass. Having enough leaf area present to take up the glyphosate makes all the difference.

For more information on Choice chicory contact your local Farm Source TSR.

Article supplied by Agricom