Forage Herbs & Legumes
PLANTAIN (Plantago Lanceolata)
Plantain is a perennial herb that performs well in a range of pastures, particularly those that are less fertile and more open. The well-known weed plant has been developed into two vigorous and erect-growing cultivars. They are highly palatable to animals, establish rapidly, are drought and pest tolerant, and have a high mineral content. Grazing management should aim to minimise seedhead frequency as leafy plantain is of high quality but plants going to head have little feed value. Used successfully to boost feed availability during the drier months in New Zealand, normally spring sown and strip / paddock grazed by cattle or sheep.
We are currently working with John Yeomans who farms near Welshpool. John is trialling the use of plantain to see if the crop can be used to replace bought in feeds for lamb finishing. John is using the crop to improve lamb weight gain on what had previously been difficult hill land. The success to date both in terms of the crop establishment, the lamb weight gain, and the crop re-growth, means that John will be expanding the area down to plantain in 2016.
CHICORY (Cichorium intybus)
Chicory is a perennial herb with a deep tap root, hence it’s drought tolerance. High in protein of 18 – 22%, very digestible in its leafy stage, it can be a useful addition for improving milk or meat production. It is also high in minerals and quick to re-grow. Ideally rotationally grazed, care should be taken not to graze too tightly when the “crown” can be damaged, killing the plant. Best sown in a mixture with perennial ryegrasses and clovers.
Both chicory and plantain are a useful addition to any grazing ley as they are likely to increase animal intake due to a more diverse grazing sward, and improve milk or meat production due their high protein and digestibility. The ground needs to be weed free prior to establishment as chemical control of broad leaved weeds is difficult.
The photo above, taken on 27th July, shows the pure stands of chicory and plantain we planted late May at Foxley. Whilst both established easily, the chicory was quicker and produced a bigger crop. After a cut of haylage in August, the re-growth was grazed by young stock in September. We noticed the cattle preferring to graze the chicory and the plantain prior to grazing the rest of the field, which was planted to our long term FS No 5 ley mixture.
LUCERNE (Medicago sativa)
Lucerne is a perennial legume suited to lighter soils and drier areas. Able to fix its own Nitrogen and persistent for 5 years plus, producing high protein fodder, it can be a useful alternative forage. It is slow to establish fully, not suited to heavy grazing and must be given time to recover. The resultant fodder is high in protein and an excellent complement to maize. Imported high quality lucerne hay is now always available as alternative to cultivating yourself.
SAINFOIN (Onobrychis viciifolia)
Sainfoin is a perennial legume herb with an erect growth habit, producing pink flowers. It is highly palatable to animals and has an excellent nutritional balance. It can be grazed, or fed as hay or silage. It thrives on alkaline soils, provides its own nitrogen and needs very little phosphate. Sainfoin has a tap root that grows down to great depth, making the plant highly drought resistant. These roots are also able to draw up minerals from well below the top soil. Best suited to later spring sowings for hay or silage, it is easily damaged by heavy grazing pressure. However medium term (4 years plus) duration is achievable if looked after. Its key benefits are its ability to thrive on lower nutient soils, its mineral balance, and its anthelmintic qualities, making it ideal for organic farms.
Whilst our site in Worcestershire is not approved to mix organic seeds, we can supply a full range of high quality, high performance organic seeds & mixtures which we source from a soil association approved merchant.
Please call for more information: 01299 832259 or 07872 964814
We also carry in stock the full range of fodder and game cover crops:
- MAIZE FOR FORAGE & FOR BIOGAS – Ardent, Augustus, Kouger, Perez – varieties that offer the best combination of yield and earliness, based on independent testing and local experience
- ENERGY BEET – Enermax, Gerty – tremendous yields for the Biogas sector.
- KALE – Maris Kestrel, Thousand Head, Caledonian – ideal for out wintering cattle.
- STUBBLE TURNIP – Samson, Vollenda – quick growing sheep keep, ready to graze within 12 weeks of sowing.
- FODDER RAPE – Emerald – ideal for mixing with turnips, again quick growing sheep grazing.
- SWEDES – Airlie, Kenmore, Gowrie, Magres – a high energy crop with big yields that needs a longer growing season.
- GAME COVERS – Maize, Millet, Sorghum, Sunflower, Quinoa, Canary Grass, Utopia, Mustard
- GREEN MANURES – Phacelia, Buckwheat, Vetch, Sainfoin, Tillage Raddish, Burseem Clover and more…
- FODDER BEET –
In 2018 we grew a crop of Jamon Fodderbeet here at Foxley for the first time. The aim is to reduce cost by out wintering on this high energy crop. We planted 6 acres of a 14 acre field, leaving 8 acres of grass ley untouched on either side to act as run back during the winter. Due to the late spring the crop was not planted until mid May, but established well, and due to the very heavy nature of our ground, continued to grow through the dry June, July and August. We put 90 round bales of barley straw on the grass either side of the beet to act as a fibre source during grazing. September rain helped the crop to bulk up and we started grazing with 50 nine to twelve month old heifers at the end of November. The cattle have done well and we estimate only 10% of the crop too deep in the ground to graze. It looks like the 6 acres will last them to around mid March, after which they will be moved on to some early spring grass. This system is roughly half the cost of wintering in sheds on straw.