Utilising Failed Bean Crops for Livestock

"Tiffany Bennett, PIRSA - MacKillop Farm Management Group"

Type: Factsheet
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

Have your bean crops been affected by frost, lack of rainfall or a combination of both?  This fact sheet offers some valuable info on utilising the failed crop for feeding livestock


What is the problem?

Due to the frost, lack of rainfall or a combination of both, the farmers of the south-east of SA contemplated several options in effectively utilizing the failed bean crops.

What did the research involve?

The fact sheet involved information on how to efficiently utilize failed bean crops for livestock through farmer experience and limited studies showing that there opportunities to use the failed crop.

What were the key findings?

Grazing a green standing failed bean crop is not a great option as they are unpalatable to livestock but once the crop has dried it can be utilised by livestock very successfully

Hay or Silage

  • Failed bean crops can be used to make hay or silage with excellent results, particularly if the plants have not formed pods as the nutrient value is still held in the stem and leaf of the plant
  • Farmers are also experimenting mixing beans with cereals such as oats and barley to make good quality silage
  • Beans should be cut with a mower conditioner as conditioning hastens stem drying so that the leaves
    and stems dry at similar rates and the leaf loss is reduced when making silage or hay

Withholding periods –  It is vital to check the label of the herbicides, pesticides or fungicides and uphold to the withholding periods.

Final comment

A failed bean crop is never going to be as profitable as if it yielded well for grain in a good year, but the crop can be salvaged and used for the benefit of livestock which is a great opportunity for mixed farmers in a drought and a great reason to have livestock in the system.

2015 - Australia - "Tiffany Bennett, PIRSA - MacKillop Farm Management Group"
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