Thumpa Italian ryegrass proves a valuable addition for Victorian beef operation

John Underwood, Glenburn VIC

Thumpa is a high yielding tetraploid Italian ryegrass ideal for rapid establishment and excellent autumn and winter yields – and for Victorian farmer John Underwood, it’s already proven to be an impressive addition to his pasture sowing program.

John manages a 78-hectare property in Glenburn, and has recently begun using Thumpa Italian Ryegrass to fulfil the hay, silage and grazing requirements for the farm’s herd of black and red angus beef cattle.

John Underwood in his Thumpa Italian ryegrass pasture
John Underwood in his Thumpa Italian ryegrass pasture

“Maintaining ideal condition score for our cattle is a major issue,” says John, “and this has resulted in an increased requirement for supplementary feeding. In the past we’ve bought in large amounts of supplements to help feed the stock – but it’s been part of our renovation program to reduce the need to buy in feed, and provide more available home-grown feed.”

“Managing available feed on offer is a real challenge,” he explains. “The soil here has lower levels of fertility, which we’re currently correcting through the application of lime and a fertiliser program. The area is Selenium, Copper and Zinc deficient, so we’re topping up these with trace minerals.”

John reports that the area is also challenged with hot summers and wet, often cold winters, as well as a grey/brown soil type with thick clay below.

With previous Italian ryegrasses failing to meet John’s production expectations, it was decided to trial Thumpa. “It was recommended due to its rapid establishment and late maturity, and that’s been a key consideration for its use.”

“We sowed it by direct drilling in late May, as part of a mix of varieties like brassica and clover, which will persist over the summer season and provide some additional feed,” he says.

“The growth from Thumpa has been phenomenal,” says John. “It had still not gone to head by mid-November, and the cattle clearly found it highly palatable.”

While Thumpa was initially sown for grazing, John also decided to see how it performed in silage production. “The first cut we baled resulted in an average of 5.77 tonnes dry matter per hectare,” he reports.

In addition, John describes how the regrowth after cutting has been tremendous. “After cutting, there was a very useful fall of 40.5 mm of rain which assisted significantly in the regrowth.”

“Thumpa has one of the best germination rates I’ve seen, and that, along with its growth rate, palatability for stock, and yield for both grazing and silage makes it pretty impressive.”

Stephen Pasture Seeds Territory Manager Simon Hunt says that Thumpa is already proving itself to be a popular choice for the farmers he works with. “Many of the farmers who’ve used it speak glowingly about how well it’s performed, across a wide range of soil types and environments,” he reports. “It’s quick to establish, and it has a broad leaf, providing high quality feed. It stays leafy right up until it starts to go reproductive, so it’s good for both silage and hay. It also has early winter growth and provides good winter yields, and it has very good persistence into the second year.”

John reports that “in this first year, Thumpa has been outstanding, and performed significantly better than other varieties we’ve used in the past. We’ve seen significant benefits from having fresh, high quality feed on hand, and that’s been the main advantage of using Thumpa. It’s definitely a variety I’d recommend.”

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