Turn a chilly chore into an opportunity this winter

Turn a chilly chore into an opportunity this winter

27 July 2020

South Island farmers are being urged to turn a chilly chore into an opportunity when shifting stock on fodder beet.

“Break feeding can get a bit tedious by this stage of the season,” says forage and pasture specialist Craig Weir.

“But it’s also a chance to monitor your current winter grazing, and think about next winter.”

While winter 2021 might seem a long way away, this time is a luxury to plan before calving, as the next thing you know, we’re into crop sowing.

“In spring there’s often so much going on, it can be hard to remember exactly what worked and what didn’t this winter.”

Craig, who is also an area manager for Barenbrug, suggests three things to consider in a plan.

Current crop

“If there are issues, they will be evident at the moment, and it’s easy to take a photo with your phone or make a note in the diary as you see them,” says Craig.

“Particularly during wet weather.”

Next year’s paddock(s)

It’s also the right time to check paddocks you are thinking about for your 2021 winter crop.

“Driving over the paddocks now will give you a good idea of what your grazing plan should be. If there’s water sitting, take a quick photo with your phone to remind you.”

Craig says there are excellent resources available to help pick the most sustainable options considering the likes of contour, critical source areas (CSAs), stock access, water access, and if needed nutrient loss buffer zones.

Finally, if you haven’t done a soil test get one organised.

Cultivar choice

“There is a range of fodder beets on the market covering different uses, so it’s good to work through what you need now and get your seed organised,” says Craig.

Basically, beets fall into three types: low dry matter (DM), medium DM and high DM, with the high DM types only suitable for lifting.

For grazing, both the low and medium DM beets can be used. A significant advantage of the medium DM is they produce higher yields.

“Within the medium DM beets, there are other important differences. Robbos, for instance, has tested higher in leaf protein (24.5 percent), which is important as beet is a carbohydrate crop. More protein means a better nutritional balance for stock, so it may be that less protein supplement can be fed.

“But if you only want to lift fodder beet, the likes of Blizzard will produce you another three to four tonnes of DM per hectare (t DM/ha) yield over Robbos.”

For more detail on best practice winter grazing, visit www.dairynz.co.nz. For more on Robbos or Blizzard, visit www.barenbrug.co.nz or contact your local Farm Source Store.

Article supplied by Barenbrug