Home-grown forage, whatever the crop will always be cheaper than buying in compound feed.

Home-grown forage, whatever the crop will always be cheaper than buying in compound feed.

It is always worth considering growing forage crops. Beet, wholecrop cereals and maize bring flexibility into the feed system as they are high starch forages and help reduce bought-in feeds.

It is always worth considering growing forage crops. Beet, wholecrop cereals and maize bring flexibility into the feed system as they are high starch forages and help reduce bought-in feeds.


With no specialist feeding machinery required, in situ grazed brassicas can also be an easy addition to your farm system for post calving feeding or buffer feeding when needed.

A key benefit of cereal crops is the flexibility with which they can be utilised and the fact that plans can be altered as the season progresses.

Early planning of these forage crops is essential:

  • Choose an appropriate site
  • Choose the right variety for your needs and land type
  • Utilise slurry and farmyard manure early and as soon as land is fit to work


It is important to remember that home grown forage, whatever the crop will always be cheaper than buying in compound feed.

Specialist Nutrition offers a full range of forage crops from high yielding harvested crops like beet, maize and wholecrop to in-situ grazed brassicas. To determine which option suits best, consider the window for growing the crop, rotation, site and intended use

Maize

Maize is one of the best forage options for anaerobic digestion offering much higher DM yields than other commercially grown crops.

When included in diets, maize will increase intakes and have a positive effect on overall yields and milk solids in the dairy herd but equally increased intakes improve daily live weight gain, kill out percentage and fat score in a beef production system.

  • Ideal all-year-round feed
  • Can be used in spring post-calving where cows have a high demand for energy, but equally as a buffer feed where there is a feed deficit situation (drought etc.)
  • An excellent break crop in a continuous tillage situation while offering an opportunity for farm to farm sale of a valuable crop
  • Requires no specialised feeding equipment
  • Makes use of high fertility land as well as capable of using high levels of home-produced organic matter (slurry and FYM) to increase the organic matter content on the arable farm

Beet

Fodder beet produces a palatable and quality feed stock, offering flexibility in terms of lift and pitting or strip grazing in situ.

  • Huge yields
  • Improved milk yields
  • Ideal break crop for cereals
  • Palatable and nutritious
  • High energy feed
  • Can be grazed in situ for outwintering systems
  • Clamp and store over winter

Wholecrop and Crimp grain

Conducting a review of current grass silage stocks, you produced allows you to make an informed decision as to whether a cereal crop will bring the most value to you as an additional source of high-quality forage or as a purchased feed replacer.

Wholecrop cereals are a versatile addition to beef or dairy diets. Cereals can produce a starch rich forage crop that is also a good source of effective fibre, essential for good rumen function. Care must be taken to harvest at the optimum time for best results; however, the wide harvest window across the crops means this can be easily managed.

  • Flexible crop to grow and wholecrop can be produced from spring or winter crops
  • Ideal year-round feed
  • Low protein content means wholecrop cereal grains are an excellent and very palatable complementary feed with either grass or good quality grass silage
  • Cost effective to produce
  • Can be under-sown with grass seed as part of a reseeding plan

A high-energy forage comprised of slowly fermented starch along with the effective physical fibre from the straw, wholecrop will work exceptionally well to balance highly digestible, rich grass silage.

If harvested forage stocks materialise to be ahead of target to meet the required budget, then crimping cereal grains to produce a rumen friendly energy source that displaces purchased feed may be the better option for your farm.

Crimp grain is a high energy, moist concentrate which can replace purchased feed on the farm. As a fermented feed, crimp can be managed in the diet to increase cereal inclusion rates while managing the risk of ruminal acidosis. Crimp will also allow straw to be harvested for bedding use which can be very
attractive in a year when straw prices are high.