Cereals for Grazing

NSW DPI - Gerald Hennessy and Bruce Clements

Type: PDF
Knowledge level: Introductory

Farm Table says:

Some data and varieties are a little outdated, but some good introductory insights into grazing crops.

This NSW DPI Primefact sheet introduces you to the role of cereals in grazing, choosing the right cereal, growth habits, fertiliser rates, plant management, and grazing management. The key takeaways are listed below.

Choosing a cereal

  • oats generally will produce more forage than will wheat, barley, cereal rye or triticale
  • grain recovery is not clear-cut. Winter wheat’s and triticale often have yields comparative or better than oats

Where annual grass control (e.g. vulpia, soft brome, barley grass and ryegrass) has been poor in the winter/spring prior to sowing, cereal root diseases are likely to cause serious production losses, particularly on non-acid soils.

Image: DPI – The estimated growth rates of oats and of annual grass / sub clover on the Central Tablelands. Source: PROGRAZE® manual.

Plant management

  • Wide row sowings should be avoided:

In an experiment on a light granite soil at Gulgong, in the lower Central Tablelands, a 25 cm row spacing was compared with the normal 17.5 cm row spacing. The 25 cm row spacing resulted in a reduction of nearly 12% in early dry matter yields of Coolabah oats.

  • Fertiliser rates for grazing crops should generally be higher than for grain-only crops, owing to the longer growing season.
  • Earliest time to start grazing is when the plants are well anchored and reach the tillering stage.
  • Frost injury to grazed crops can be severe, particularly if crops are only a few centimetres high and the soil is loose and dry. Under severe frosty conditions, stock should be removed nightly.
  • Residual plant heights of around 5–10 cm for prostrate types and 10–20 cm for upright types will correspond fairly closely to benchmarks of around 1000–1500 kg/ha for lactating ewes and fattening steers.
Image: DPI NSW, Sustainable continuous stocking rate for oats
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2009 - Australia - NSW DPI - Gerald Hennessy and Bruce Clements
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