They can improve animal productivity and fill feed gaps when pasture quality has declined in summer.
PGG Wrightson Seeds says choosing a suitable species this spring (brassica or chicory) to supplement your dairy operation can provide you with nutritious feed over the summer and be part of your future plans.
For example, combining a chicory or brassica crop as part of the programmed approach to pasture renewal is a great tool to clean up paddocks through the use of selective herbicides.
It also provides a break from pasture pests and allows time for soil fertility issues to be addressed before planting a high-performance perennial pasture like Base AR37 or Platform AR37.
Chicory or brassica?
So why choose Puna II chicory over a brassica like Barkant turnips?
First, consider when the feed is required.
Puna II is beneficial when a lower daily amount of summer crop is required over an extended period. However, it may not be suitable in drought years as slow chicory regrowth (due to reduced moisture) may not adequately match feed demand.
In contrast, Barkant turnips are helpful as the crop accumulates before late December (before moisture may become limiting), pushing feed ahead to be eaten for a shorter period during mid to late summer.
In relation to feed quality and availability, Puna II chicory will supply a high protein feed from December until mid-April, while Barkant turnips, depending on the sowing date, will provide a bank of feed over six weeks (usually mid-January to the end of February) and will produce a protein and carbohydrate-rich feed option.
Next, consider your budget and the area you have available for sowing.
A relatively larger area is needed for Puna II chicory compared to Barkant turnips when it comes to supporting your herd’s feed demands.
Costs associated with returning relatively larger areas of Puna II chicory to pasture will increase the costs associated with chicory crops.
When it comes to production, responses by cows are similar when cows consume the same amounts of chicory or turnips.
As such, decisions around which crop to plant should also reflect feed budget decisions such as, which crop will yield the most DM to best match herd demand when pasture supply is limiting.
Which variety is best?
So why choose Puna II chicory and/or Barkant turnips?
Puna II chicory:
● is ideally suited to dairy pastures and finishing systems due to its semi-erect growth habit;
● if rotationally grazed it has a fast regrowth after grazing; and
● has high nutritional quality, improved regrowth after grazing and improved persistence.
● produce high-quality feed with a high metabolisable energy value, meaning greater animal performance can be achieved;
● are a high-performance feed for lactating dairy cows, supplying the energy required to boost milk production; and
● offer proven performance.