Today’s Seed of the Week article focuses on HF
- a sheep grazing mix for elongated grazing patterns and sustained growth throughout the year, writes Danny Moran.
As the name suggests, this mix includes six varieties; three of those are ryegrasses: Nifty, Kerry and Aspect. Their inclusion promotes significant yields and superior quality to the swards, which, in turn, offers maximum grazing output.
Nifty is an Intermediate Perennial Ryegrass (IPR) of the diploid variety which focuses on ground cover and yield, particularly in late summer and autumn when other species are losing momentum.
This makes it a valuable inclusion where sheep farmers are concerned, as it extends the grazing period while maintaining quality, offering excellent grazing throughout the latter part of the year. In addition, it is very resistant to Crown Rust, which can be featured in grazing systems.
Kerry, Aspect and Timothy
Kerry was new to the Irish recommended list in 2016 and complements the mix through its exceptional early spring growth which sustains throughout the summer and into autumn.
Like Nifty, it’s got excellent rust resistance with very low aftermath heading, making it a fundamental part of the formula for intensive grazing paddocks.
Yield, mixture adaptation and digestibility are prominent characteristics, while high sugar levels offer greater live weight gains.
Aspect is equally as effective when it comes to grazing. Recommended on the Irish list in recent years, this offers exceptional graze-out of swards and regrowth throughout the year.
Timothy is included for excellent palatability and is very resistant to cold and drought. It is a high-fibre ryegrass that offers valuable nutrition to sheep as well as horses.
Vitamin & Minerals
Chicory stands out as one of the main nutrient-rich elements of the mix. It’s a low growing, rosette plant with broad leaves in winter, while summer sees an expansive array of leaves develop from the crown.
Sustained growth levels of 25kg DM /acre/day from April through to October can be exceeded during peak growth, with 35kg/acre/day produced.
This deep-rooted plant grows best on fertile, well-drained soils and grazing management is important to achieve maximum efficiency and protect the thick taproot from overgrazing or excessive poaching.
Its low fibre, high protein and fat levels stimulate daily live weight gains, while its reduced tannin levels have also shown a lower worm burden on animals consuming it.
Plantain is another deep taproot tolerant to drought-prone areas. It isn’t suitable to waterlogged soils, so like chicory, ensure the paddocks are well drained.
It doesn’t have any P or K requirements but responds well to nitrogen, which can be absorbed through the clover included in the mixture.
Its deep roots allows the plant access more nutrients than other shallow-rooted crops like grasses and clover, providing excellent nutritional value.
Calcium, copper, iron, zinc, sodium and magnesium are all prevalent minerals contained in the plant, essential for growing lambs to reach live weight gain targets. It is a highly palatable plant, with animals selectively grazing it.
Grazing management is again important, although palatability at flowering stage is also quite good. It combines very well with red and white clover, with studies showing excellent weight gain on finishing lambs.
With red and white clover also included, there is a reduced nitrogen requirement. It is important to consult your advisor prior to any spraying after seeding, as some sprays will affect Chicory and Plantain.