SF SUGA beet driving production
Seed Force SUGA™ beet is the ideal feed for the cows in John Van Hout’s Winton cow barn, helping keep them in milk for over 300 days of the year.
John has two cow sheds on his 350 hectare milking platform in Winton, Southland. There is a cow barn with a 60 bale rotary that holds 660 cows and also a 36-aside herringbone shed where a further 350 cows are milked.
“It (beet) is a good source of energy. We milk virtually right through the year and in winter in the barn it’s an ideal feed. It helps with getting our average of 305 days in milk per cow,” John says.
“We have the cows in calving condition before they dry off and beet helps us to get to that.”
John grows 23ha of SUGA™, at both the dairy farm effluent paddocks and his run-off block. Yields range from 22 tonnes per hectare to 30t/ha
He’s been growing sugar beet for three seasons and harvests the lot. “We start harvesting at the end of April and go right to the beginning of October. We feed it in the barn and on the feed pad.”
The beet is harvested, washed and de-stoned. Because of its high dry matter (DM) content at 24%, it is chopped before feeding to help with palatability for the cows. The milking cows get 2-3kg each per day from May right through until Christmas.
For John, the beauty of SUGA™ beet is its high ME and DM content and the fact it’s more drought resistant. “Its roots go down deeper and it hangs on better.”
Plus, the cows love it. “We put it in a mixed ration and they actually look for it. They dig through and it’s the first thing they eat.”
Finally, beet is a cost effective option. “We can grow it for 18-20c/kg DM – there’s nothing on the market at that price. It’s cost effective, it fits with our re-grassing programme and we’re harvesting the nutrients from the effluent paddocks.
“At the run-off we harvest the beet at the end of April and then grow winter wheat on those paddocks, so you get another crop in. There’s no pugging and as soon as we harvest, if the conditions are right, we can sow the same day as harvest.”