Webinar: Successful out-wintering with good Brassica management

Germinal GB experts Helen Mathieu and William Fleming discuss the key factors for successful out-wintering on brassica.

Sharing practical considerations around feeding brassica such as fencing, introducing fibre, stocking rates, animal health and growing costs.

Webinars Q & A

Can you talk more about multi-grazing and what you need to do as most farmers might graze too hard so regrowth won't happen?

Crops of Redstart sown between May and June can be grazed at around eight to ten weeks, lightly down to say 8 or 10 inches, leaving plenty of nodes and potential growing points. Remove the stock and the crop will continue growing well into October or later depending on the conditions. Apply a supplementary dose of N after the first grazing – 50 kg/Ha. Some people will split the field into four or more blocks and rotate round, by the time you finish the last block, the first block can be regrazed. It is relative to the sowing day though.

Which varieties are best for in-calf dairy heifers over winter?

Depending on the date available to sow the crop, then either Maris Kestrel, if you can sow before the end of June, later than that Swift or Redstart. (If it is late sown and you are trying to graze earlier (ie October) then Redstart).

We sowed Redstart on 3 August in North East, England. When will it reach its maximum DM/ha? Approximately what will that DM be?

There would be no harm starting to graze that now, but it will keep if you need to, and keep growing until the soil temperature drops to approx 8 degrees. Capable of 4 to 6 tonnes dm, but I suggest you go and measure it.

What is the best seed rate for hybrids?

6.25 kgs per hectare is a standard rate.

What break length between fodder beet crops?

From a soil pest/disease risk, there is less harm than a brassica, but it is very hard on soil structure and soil health. You could over-winter on a brassica and then put fodder beet in the next spring, but then the field would ideally go back to a longer-term type ley.

Early drilled oilseed rape with clover, suggesting to graze for growth regulation/disease suppression with sheep. Any differences compared to forage rape to consider? It's a mixture of hybrid rape and some conventional.

The rules for grazing would be the same. I am not sure there is a great deal of crop there to actually benefit the animals greatly.

Will high pH soils sustain shorter brassica rotations?

They would, but it is not without risk, and soil type matters, so heavier wetter soils will be more prone to clubroot. Once you have clubroot, you have a problem and won't be growing brassicas successfully for many years in that area.

Would you mix stubble turnips, forage rape and kale together?

My preference is not to as there is no need really, but it is possible and people do like that sort of blend, the potential problem is that the shorter-lived and faster-growing stubble turnip will swamp anything slightly slower growing anyway. The faster-growing reach maturity much earlier and are past their best before the kale reaches its potential.

With the loss of neonic seed treatments is there anything in the pipeline from a seed treatment point of view that would help the establishment of brassicas and the problem with flea beetle?

We are looking at various treatments down at the Germinal Research Station in Wiltshire that may have potential, we don’t have any information at the moment though.

When feeding a rape or hybrid what causes the ears to fall off on fattening lambs and how can this be prevented?

This is called Rape Scald and is the photosensitization (sunburn) caused by high levels of toxins in the plant, effect mostly white-faced sheep. It rarely affects all the animals. It is very much related to the growth stage of the crop but also the environmental conditions, soil fertility (particularly N and S) and the weather at the time. Feed fibre, reduce the amount they are eating, or wait until the weather changes and the crop has reached maturity, or feed in late autumn/winter.

What is the best crop for finishing lambs? With or without any concentrate supplementation? And what is a realistic growth rate without concentrates?

Redstart can be sown anytime from mid-May through to mid/end of August and fed any time from late July up to the end of January or even longer. We've typically seen growth rates of over 200gms. It will certainly produce more LWG than late-season poor quality pastures.

Flea beetle – what do you recommend we do for it? Finding timing sprays is difficult. Usually, the damage is done and the crop is never the same after.

Spraying for pests is very much about timing, crops need treating as soon as they reach the threshold – sprayed early enough the crop should recover well.

How far apart should the electric fence posts be and how do you secure the end posts that will be moved every day?

There are lots of different ways to fence the crop. Some will use a hardwire between wooden posts while others use a single strand that clips to a wire running around the outside fence. Some will create a block or square by banging in a strong metal spike as the corner or end pole. Distance between stakes will depend on livestock, length of feed face etc.

If the grazing period is very wet, once lambs are fully introduced, would running lambs on and off (on in the morning, off at night) to a drier run-off area be advisable or is there a danger of them gorging during the day and causing harm to themselves?

You might make more mess by running them in and out, as the footfall will concentrate on a narrow area. If you feed fibre, and they are well fed with brassica, they should be content and will tend to stand and lie on the drier area, just grazed. If they are not eating the straw, or there is more than they need, they will just lay on it.

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