Growing profit from the ground up

Pasture Improvement Initiative

More meat from summer-sown brassicas

Producers looking for live weight gains on their finishing lambs, could achieve their goals with brassicas according to Victorian lamb producer Chris Morton.

During early 2016, Chris, who farms at Woodglen on the edge of the Mitchell River, west of Bairnsdale, was looking for an alternative to annual ryegrass to finish 500 store lambs bought in from Ballarat.  Simon Hunt from Stephen Pasture Seeds recommended a mix of Hunter forage brassica and New Tetila annual ryegrass.

Hunter is a fast-growing hybrid brassica, which produces high-quality feed suitable for finishing livestock.  It can be planted during spring for summer feed or during late summer– autumn to fill an autumn–winter feed gap.

Unlike most other brassicas, Hunter has no ripening requirement and can be grazed from six to eight weeks, depending on how well it has grown and when the feed is required.

Fast-growing feedbase

Chris planted 16ha with 4kg/ha Hunter forage brassica and 10kg/ha New Tetila ryegrass during mid-February 2016, irrigated it straight away, and was grazing the paddock in five weeks.

“It was incredible how fast it grew,” Chris said.

Chris stocked the paddock with 450 lambs and by June the lambs had put on enough weight to send over the hooks to Coles (in the range of 18 – 25kg dressed weight).

“The Hunter grew well and almost smothered the New Tetila”, Chris said. “The lambs grew well too.”

“I split the paddock into two and rotated the lambs between the two sides every two weeks.”

“They were the best lambs I’ve ever had.  They all easily made the weight requirement for Coles, with some going over weight, and with nearly a third dressed up to 50% when they normally dress 45%, so this was a bonus.”

“My stock agent was telling his clients how well the lambs did on my crop of Hunter — I’ll definitely be growing it again next year.”

According to Chris, an additional bonus of the crop was not having to crutch the lambs.

“Normally you need to crutch up to 30% of the lambs after they have been on a fodder crop,” Chris explained.

“On this occasion I didn’t have to crutch any, which was a big saving on labour costs.”

For more information on Hunter forage brassica visit www.ausweststephenseeds.com.au