Farmers looking for live weight gains on their finishing lambs, are invited to take a leaf out of Chris Morton’s book and spring sow Hunter forage brassica.
A fast maturing forage brassica that can be sown from spring through to early autumn, Hunter provided an extra boost for the lambs said Chris who farms at Woodglen on the edge of the Mitchell River, west of Bairnsdale.
Chris was looking for an alternative crop to annual ryegrass for finishing the 500 store lambs he buys in from Ballarat in April each year. Chris contacted Simon Hunt from Stephen Pasture Seeds who recommended a mix of Hunter forage brassica and New Tetila annual ryegrass.
Hunter is a hybrid brassica that is quick to grow and produces high quality feed suitable for finishing livestock. It can be planted in the spring for summer feed or in the late summer/ autumn for quick autumn/winter feed. Hunter has no ripening requirement unlike most other brassicas, and can be grazed from 6 to 8 weeks, depending on how well it has grown and when the feed is required.
Chris planted 16ha with 4kg/ha Hunter forage brassica and 10kg/ha New Tetila ryegrass in mid-February 2016, irrigated it straight away, and was grazing the paddock in 5 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.
“The Hunter grew very well and almost smothered the New Tetila, the lambs grew very well on the Hunter. I split the paddock into two and was rotating the lambs between the two sides every two weeks”. Chris said.
“They were the best lambs I’ve ever had” said Chris. “They all easily made the weight requirement for Coles, (in the range of 18 to 25kg dressed weight), with some going over weight, and with nearly a third dressed up to 50% when they normally dress 45% so this was a big bonus” he also added. “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” Chris said.
“Another bonus of the crop was not having to crutch the lambs, normally on a fodder crop you need to crutch up to 30% of the lambs after they have been on the crop, on this occasion with the Hunter I didn’t have to crutch any, a big saving on labour costs” Chris added.
Available from AusWest Seeds and Stephen Pasture Seeds, Hunter forage brassica is a fast growing forage crop that produces excellent yields over multiple grazings in the right conditions.