They sowed the Mainstar forage rape after a failed barley crop into a full profile of soil moisture in mid-November. While it was a relatively dry summer on the farm, Mainstar established quickly and was ready to graze in just seven and a half weeks.
The grazing program started with 150 shorn lambs in early January. But James said the crop really took off after a good 20 mm of rain in March. “It just went gangbusters and never looked bad, it was phenomenal,” he said. They added another 250 older ewes on to the Mainstar crop, as well as 260 more lambs. “As soon as we put the lambs in, they went on it straight away,” he said.
“As most graziers would know, that’s not the case with the older rape varieties. The lambs will eat everything else in the paddock before they even try it, around the fences, on the dam bank, even pine needles, so you had to put dry feed in with them and it was about a week or ten days before they really got stuck into it."
“These new pasture and forage crop varieties coming out are there to provide more feed for your stock – they grow more and recover better after grazing – so you’ve got to give them a go,” he said.
“The seed might be a bit dearer, but it costs no more to sow it. It’s the same fertiliser, the same spray for the paddock and diesel cost, but it’s the amount of feed you get off it that makes the difference. With a good quality crop like Mainstar, you might be able to put more stock on, or not sell your lambs as early, so you can get a few more kilograms on them before you have to turn them off. At times this year, the difference between trade weight and heavy in lambs has been as much as $80 or $90 a head so that flexibility is very valuable.”