Yield is key to livestock profit potential - Elders Rural Services

Yield is key to livestock profit potential

The popularity of forage brassicas continues to increase in Australia as their usage has expanded into different seasons and pasture mixes.

Originally sown in southern Australia as a spring planted summer forage, they are now sown from Queensland to Tasmania to South west WA at various times of the year based on region.

And one forage brassica has been a stand-out in Australia for consistently providing the highest yields and the ability to be planted somewhere in Australia every month of the year.

SF Greenland forage rape was released in 2006 after trials showed it to be the highest yielding variety on the market. And 13 years later, despite some newer varietal releases in Australia, it is still the highest yielding Forage Rape on the market.

SF Greenland seems the most durable of those at handling Australian extremes due to its strong genetic characteristics:

  • High palatability when grazed to its potential,
  • Outstanding re-growth if moisture is available,
  • Excellent frost tolerance, and
  • Reduced bolting (going to head) if grazing pressure is maintained.

Forage brassicas are highly digestible with Estimated Metabolizable Energy (ME) similar to grain at around 11.5-12.5MJ/kg DM depending on when they are tested. They usually have adequate Crude Protein 12-20% if plant nutrition is managed, but have a low level of fibre (typically 18-30% NDF).

“For optimum animal performance, livestock producers should provide feed with highest ME, Crude Protein around 15-20% and NDF levels of around 35%, says Andrew Harborne of Seed Force who also runs an Angus breeding operation from his home base near Crookwell in southern NSW.

So with quality non limiting, the key to improving profit from such a low per hectare seed cost is ensuring that you choose the highest yield potential variety, fertilise it to its potential and manage grazing.

Impact of yield of economics of grazing forage brassicas

Based on yield trials over the past 15 years, the impact of SF Greenland yield on profitability can be seen from the modelled analysis undertaken below.

After adjusting for any difference in seed price and making an adjustment to cover the replacement of nutrients used driving up to 30% higher yield, plus extra fibre, SF Greenland has the potential to deliver up to $400/ha extra returns from beef liveweight gain compared to other lower yielding forage rape options.

These differences will be even higher when grazed by lambs which are currently returning a higher liveweight price.

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