Managing Standing Crops for Grazing

Have you considered using a standing crop to fill the late spring and summer feed gaps? Feeding sheep can be time consuming and often requires extra resources and double handling of feed – especially when you could be taking a break.

A ‘Standing Crop’ refers to a cereal crop that has been sown and grown as a normal crop then held as a fodder bank for grazing later in the year. It can also be a combination of a cereal with a pasture legume or grain supplement to satisfy higher protein demands of growing lambs. It is grazed anytime from the late vegetative stage to full grain maturity.

A standing crop can offer improved nutrition and groundcover compared to other annual pasture paddocks at these times. Systems growing autumn/winter drop lambs need to maintaining high growth rates to achieve target sale weights for marketing. The standing crop can be a valuable way to help finish these lambs faster at three to six months of age, enabling you to sell earlier and take stocking pressure off your farm.

Standing crops can also be useful for ewes to regain condition pre-joining, during pregnancy and lambing.

Grazing standing crops does not limit land use, rather it provides increased flexibility for a mixed farming system. These case studies of Petering’s at Murtoa, and Bennett’s at Lawloit are examples of how livestock can be integrated with cropping to increase productivity and profitability of less productive land.

Final-standing-crop-case-studies

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