Forage crops can often provide a superior feed supply, both in terms of quantity and quality. They provide an excellent source of energy and protein for grazing stock. Use of a forage crop should be considered in any situation where pasture quantity or quality is limiting the potential production of your livestock.
The most common situations are as follows:
Kale is a tall, bulky brassica grown for winter feed. Kale maturity times range from 18-24 weeks. Kale can be sown from mid to late October through to mid February depending on climate, desired feeding time and quality required.
Swede crops are a traditional winter feed in cool wet climates. Swedes have the advantage over turnips of carrying a larger bulb, greater yield and better drymatter quality through winter.
The well established role of turnips is reflected by the extensive range of cultivars available, from the yellow fleshed (hard) through to the white fleshed (soft), to the modern stubble/summer turnips, all with differing maturities, leaf:bulb ratios and feeding times.
Rape can be sown from mid spring through to late summer depending on when the feed is required. It can be used for both summer finishing and/or conserved for winter feed. Rape is very good in drier environments where it can carry high-quality feed from spring through to late summer or from late summer through to winter.
Forage brassicas are early maturing, regrowth leafy turnips that are suited to first grazing at around 6-8 weeks often before Christmas.