Livestock Systems Update

Recent BCG activities in livestock systems have focussed on fodder. We are working on several project proposals looking at pasture and fodder options, and their management for production and quality to meet the needs of livestock and look after soils.

Oaten Hay Agronomy Trials
Harvest time for AgriFutures and BCG Member oaten hay agronomy trials at Curyo and Rupanyup, is now upon us. 

Optimum hay cutting time is at growth stage Z71; the watery ripe stage reached just before milk development. Watery ripe provides the best compromise between hay yield and quality; cutting before this stage results in decreased stem thickness and better quality, but there are significant yield penalties. Cutting hay after the watery ripe stage may increase hay yield, but can result in poorer quality hay with lower water soluble carbohydrates, lower crude protein, higher fibre and poor colour.

When the grain is squeezed, a watery green/white liquid will come out (left). When the grain is squeezed and a milky white liquid comes out (right), hay quality is already being compromised (Photo source). Squeeze the top floret at several locations across the paddock – if more than half are at Z71 then it is ready to cut. If more than 10mm of rain is forecast, there is a 5-7 day window you can delay cutting to enable the crop to dry and allow better curing conditions.

At Curyo: all oaten hay varieties sown on 5th May, and Durack sown on 28th May have reached the watery ripe, growth stage Z71 and have been cut for yield and quality assessments. Some warmer weather this week will advance maturity of the remaining later sown varieties.

Curyo 7th September: effect of PGR (foreground) on Durack, reducing height and delaying maturity.

At Rupanyup: no treatments have been cut for hay yet, but early sown, 6th May, varieties with higher nitrogen rates between 90-150kg N/ha are on the verge compared with varieties sown on 29th May or with 10-60kg N/ha.

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