For farmers who may traditionally buy their feed from an external source rather than growing it on-farm, there’s one good reason for a change this winter according to PGG Wrightson Seeds’ product development manager Allan Mudford.
Mr Mudford said home-grown pastures were often the most cost-effective production systems.
‘‘If you’re buying in feed, it’s an extra input cost,’’ he said.
‘‘Home-grown feed can save you time and labour, enabling you to invest that back into other areas, so that your farm becomes more productive and profitable.’’
This year in particular, home-grown feed may be even more cost effective.
‘‘Hot and dry weather conditions last spring and over summer across the country has seen a drop in the available amount of quality hay and silage,’’ Mr Mudford said.
‘‘This lower supply also means higher current prices for hay and silage.
‘‘The unfavourable conditions has also led to a marked drop in the average nutritional quality of available hay and silage,’’
However, when it comes to implementing a successful home-grown pasture system, autumn is a particularly important time of the year — and making the right decisions now can significantly affect pasture production levels and livestock performance.
‘‘Creating optimal home-grown feed supplies depends on a number of factors,’’ he said.
‘‘Not least of which is the ability to choose the best varieties, in the right place, for greater long-term supply.’’
To avoid the common problem of feed deficits, Mr Mudford said growers should consider the long-term goals of their pasture system, rather than merely taking a short-term approach.
‘‘Careful planning, selection and preparation will give a much better feed production curve — so growers should consider everything from selecting the most fertile areas and choosing the right pasture to sow, to implementing good weed and pest management practices, and also considering the best seed preparation techniques,’’ he said.
When it comes to health, vigour and consistency, the latest star of the home-grown pasture is PGG Wrightson Seeds’ recently-released annual ryegrass, Ascend.
‘‘Ascend is ideal for farmers wanting to increase their home-grown winter pasture production from autumn into late spring, because it establishes early but matures late in the season,’’ Mr Mudford said.
‘‘It jumps up very quickly, offering good winter growth and high rust resistance — and with its dense tillering, it fills out quickly, providing exceptional ground cover.’’
■For more information, visit www.pggwrightsonseeds.com.au or speak to a PGG Wrightson Seeds pasture agronomist.