Savvy cocksfoot driving pasture regeneration in northern NSW

After purchasing two farms to complement his property at Liston (NSW), Neil Harvey knew he needed a strong pasture renovation program and so turned to Savvy cocksfoot from AusWest Seeds to deliver.

Neil runs a cattle fattening operation, which needs to be driven by good quality pastures, such as Savvy with its high productivity and enduring palatability.

“We breed Angus cattle and, depending on the season, we take our calves through to the feedlot weight of between 400 and 500 kilograms,” he explains. “If the seasons aren’t favourable, then we sell at the local weaner sales.”

Neil Harvey and farm manager Stefan Botha in their Savvy pasture
Neil Harvey and farm manager Stefan Botha in their Savvy pasture
“Pasture is an absolute critical driver for the profitability of our operation. We’re slowly improving the paddocks on all the properties, we take an area every year, put it down to oats and then as soon as it's fairly weed-free, we go with a pasture.”

“The goal is to introduce as much new pasture as possible, because I believe even though we have pretty good pastures, the newer varieties will increase our carrying capacity that much more.”

The new properties Neil is particularly focused on are at Deepwater, between Tenterfield and Glen Innes (northern NSW), and at Stanthorpe (QLD).

“When we got the property at Deepwater, the pastures clearly needed to be rejuvenated, so I contacted AusWest Seeds and New England representative Aaron Kemp came out to do numerous inspections and planning,” Neil recalls.

“Aaron was very positive that Savvy cocksfoot would be the way to go, so we planted the variety at Deepwater in the 2014/15 season.”

“We're so impressed with Savvy, because we can see with the amount of leaf it has and long growing season that it just outperforms any of the cocksfoot that has historically been on the properties.

“While we did put in one paddock of fescue as well, the Savvy is outgrowing the fescue, there's absolutely no comparison between the two at this stage.”

The ultimate measurement of Savvy for Neil is the impact it is having on his cattle operation, in terms of overall carrying capacity.

“The cattle absolutely love Savvy, whether it's 30 centimetres tall or 5 centimetres tall, it remains palatable,” he says.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of growth goes into the leaf and it has a fine stem. While we haven't had a season that has absolutely got away from us, I am looking forward to seeing how Savvy performs in a good season.”

Cattle grazing Savvy
Cattle grazing Savvy

While the pasture renovation program continues, an exact rotational grazing pattern is difficult to establish, however Neil does have goals in this area.

“At certain times of year, we move the cattle every three days at Deepwater, pushing out to a week or longer rotational grazing depending on the season,” he says.

“Because we don't have Savvy, or newer pastures, in all the areas we want them in, there's no system as yet, we just move cattle according to how the paddocks are responding.”

“The ultimate would be to give the cattle a few paddocks of Savvy-based pasture and move them around that area of the farm. That'll happen with time as we persist with putting in the new pastures.”

With an eye on Savvy to play a key role moving forward in his pasture renovation program, Neil has also sown Savvy on his Stanthorpe property in the 2017/18 season.

“We will see how the Savvy at Stanthorpe goes with a mix of Atom prairie grass from AusWest Seeds,” Neil says.

“As far as the Stanthorpe and the Deepwater blocks go, Savvy will make up the bulk of the grazing there, that's for sure.”

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