Introduction to Brassica

Forage brassica crops are an ideal complementary feed, especially when pasture quality and quantity declines. Offering high value feed and yield during summer and winter, brassicas also play an important role in a pasture renewal programme.

While brassica crops are generally utilised for the quality and quantity of feed that they can produce, they can also provide other benefits for soil, pasture and crop health by acting as a break crop. Forage brassica crops are ideal to break pest and disease cycles, break in new ground and for breaking standard endophyte cycles prior to sowing novel endophyte grasses.

An ideal option for farmers wishing to grow high quality feed for their livestock system

  • Cost effective source of dry matter
  • Large quantities of high-quality feed
  • Can produce feed at various times of the year with flexibility of sowing time
  • Can be grazed where they are grown, eliminating costs associated with hay, silage and grain
  • Integral part of a pasture renewal programme, see PGG Wrightson Seeds Programmed Approach®

Why Use a Brassica?

Brassica forage crops are high yielding and highly digestible, allowing the farmer to maintain or increase stock carrying capacity during periods of feed deficits or when pasture quality is limited.

There is a brassica forage crop just right for most situations. Forage crops can be used to:

  • Provide a supply of great value quality feed for seasonal shortages
    • Traditional winter feed - kale, rape, turnips
    • Summer - rape, turnips, leafy turnips
  • Finish livestock - rape, turnips, leafy turnips
  • Flush ewes - rape, leafy turnips
  • Provide high energy feed for lactating dairy cows

 

Many brassica crops fail to reach their potential so to ensure optimum performance it is important to manage crops well.

Using forage brassicas helps avoid parasites and pathogens that cause animal health problems such as facial eczema and ryegrass staggers.

Brassica forage crops also offer benefits for soil, pasture and crop health by acting as a break crop to:

  • Break disease and pest cycles
  • Break in new ground
  • Break the standard endophyte cycle prior to sowing novel endophyte grasses
The table above outlines the key quality aspects of brassicas compared with traditional feed alternatives.

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