Brendon and Gail Woods
“It’s met all the objectives. We can reliably grow in excess of 25 tonne/ha crops. Utilisation is as close to 100% as we can get, in all weather conditions, which is key. It’s not affected by snow, which kale was.”
Burnham dairy farmer Brendon Woods has been growing fodder beet for 10 years and says nothing comes close to matching it for yield, utilisation and putting condition on cows.
Brendon and his wife Gail milk 1,050 cows on their fully irrigated 300ha effective Burnham property.
Ten years ago Brendon was searching for a reliable, high-quality, winter feed that would put as much weight on his cows as possible.
“Traditionally we have used kale as our green feed and I wasn’t happy with the reliable production and quality of the available feed. I had concerns over wastage at higher crop levels and difficulties managing it because of the height of the crop.”
He decided to go back to bulb varieties for ease of management and when swedes didn’t suit the area, he started looking at fodder beet.
“I have found nothing better. Nothing that would come close to matching it,” Brendon says.
“It’s met all the objectives. We can reliably grow in excess of 25 tonne/ha crops. Utilisation is as close to 100% as we can get, in all weather conditions, which is key. It’s not affected by snow, which kale was.
“We can rely on it 100%, there’s nothing lost in adverse weather conditions and it meets all the targets of cow condition extremely well, it absolutely shines there.”
The Woods have 35-40ha of beet grown on a neighbouring property under contract. They grow SF Brigadier™ and SF LIFTA™ fodder beet and SF SUGA™ sugar beet varieties.
“We have split the crop now and are growing varieties we can lift and carry to add more versatility to the crops. SF LIFTA™ and SF SUGA™ have added a new dimension to the crop and give us the ability to autumn milk and transition cows for winter feeding.
“It’s lengthened the window for putting weight on the cows in autumn and winter and strengthened our autumn milk production because of its feed quality. The high dry matter content of SF SUGA™ in particular, is hugely useful for milk production in the spring too.”
Brendon says feeding beet in autumn has helped to transition cows more smoothly, meaning there is no lengthy transition period.
Transitioning cows onto the beet is key, he says. “Trying to shortcut it can be hugely detrimental to the animals and then the name of the crop. You have to be careful
and follow the plan in terms of transitioning. The 1kg of beet increase per cow every two days is crucial to make sure your cows are safe and prevent any health issues.”
The service and support he gets from Seed Force™’s David Walsh is excellent, he says.
“We’re lucky to have an outstanding relationship with Seed Force™ and Walshy in particular. He’s always available should any problems arise. Technical support is absolutely crucial to growing a good, reliable, high-yielding crop.”