Livestock 2013: Wholecrop could help extend rations this year

Farmers facing forage shortages or wishing to extend supplies could look to wholecrop as a cost-effective feed option.

Wholecrop is a high dry matter (35-45%), starch-based feed suitable for buffer feeding and could act as a stop gap for late summer feeding before maize becomes available later in the year.

Although the 2013 maize crop is looking promising, Roy Eastlake of Biotal said wholecrop would give flexibility in farmers’ decision making. “Purchasing a standing crop could help farmers make up volume and it can either be crimped or taken as a forage crop. If grass silages yields are up, some of the wholecrop can be harvested and crimped to reduce concentrate bills,” he said.

Mr Eastlake said if farmers were growing crops on their farm they could go in two weeks after harvest with stubble turnips. “This adds more feeding options to the farmer and can help bring down feed costs.”

However, Mr Eastlake warned that when purchasing a standing wholecrop it was important to check the quality of the crop. “Poor cereal crops will make poorer feeds. Make sure the grain has good ears, is not patchy, does not contain a lot of weeds and does not have too much, if any disease. The feed is only as good as the stuff you are harvesting,” he said.

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