Blackwood Valley Beef Fodder Crop
Warren from Blackwood Valley Beef sowed this multi species fodder crop in February last year. Thanks to some great early rains and consistent follow up rains, the cattle then rotated onto this fodder crop pasture the following June.
This photo was taken in May during the second graze on this section, after a 30 day recovery. The cattle are also eating a bit of silage for added fibre, and a couple of kilos of grass-fed pellet for protein and energy. This helps to maintain a good growth rate at the hardest time of the year for cattle to maintain and put on weight.
Warren says that the condition of the cattle improved almost overnight when they started grazing the multi species fodder crop. When weighed, they averaged a 1.92kg/day weight gain over 38 days, which is the best result he has seen at that time of the year.
Some of the benefits of growing multiple species together in a pasture include improving soil and root structure, preventing soil erosion, improving the water holding capacity of the soil, interrupting pest and disease life cycles, and providing food and habitat for beneficial insects.
Plant diversity is now also recognised as a major influence on nutrient cycling in pastures. Having several plant species in one area fills niches, increases the chances of including a productive species, and if a stress occurs, a stress tolerant species can grow.
Multispecies pastures can also help make a farm more productive. This happens as the pasture quality improves when multiple species are grown together, which often also increases pasture biomass - the total amount of pasture available to be grazed by the animals. This in turn can then reduce the cost of buying in feed, such silage, hay or a grass fed pellet.