7 March 1997

Kale weight gain

LAMBS fed on big bale kale have greater initial liveweight gain than those on grass silage-based rations, and could finish in half the time.

John Vipond, Scottish Agricul-tural College senior sheep specialist, said that in trials the first lambs fed big bale kale could be drawn out for sale after three weeks, while those on a silage diet were not finished for five to six weeks.

Delegates at the Quality forage for ruminants conference at the Royal Agricultural College heard that lambs in the trial fed 100% kale gained 130g a day, while those on 100% silage gained only 85g a day for the first three weeks after coming off grass. All lambs received 0.45kg sugar beet a day.

"At the end of the six-week trial there was no significant difference in weight or carcass quality. But, overall, the lambs seemed to prefer kale silage. High initial liveweight gain and good feed conversion would seem to make it ideal for short-keep systems." But big bale kale was dearer than silage in Scotland, as it is only about 15% DM, he warned. "It costs about £90/t DM to produce, compared with £60/t DM for grass." &#42