“It’s been brilliant. It makes me redundant – not quite, it cut staff numbers in half.”
Seed Force™ fodder beet has helped Kaweku farmers Russell and Alexa McClintock to successfully winter 2,000 dairy cows on their feed pad.
Previously the McClintocks wintered dairy cows on whole crop kale and beet, but in 2013 they invested in a wintering pad that can hold up to 2,000 cows.
The SF LIFTA™ fodder beet is chipped and fed out on the feed pad through June and July, along with 500 acres of grass silage, which is cut annually and put into two to three central pits. Cows are fed 8-9kg of grass silage and 4kg of fodder beet per day.
The beauty of fodder beet is both volume of crop and energy provided – a high-yielding crop combined with its high ME means they can put weight on cows.
“The fodder beet produces high dry matter per hectare and has the ME to put weight on cows in winter,” Russell says.
“We get 25-26 t/ha of dry matter with fodder beet, we couldn’t do that with anything else. We have a couple of thousand tonnes of fodder beet that gets chipped and fed in conjunction with the grass silage.”
They tried whole crop in the past but found it didn’t work as well and the cost was much higher than fodder beet.
“We’ve been growing it [fodder beet] for four or five years and gradually increased the amount. We put the feed pad in and everything is brought into a central pit. This is our third year with the feed pad – it’s 3ha so it’s substantial.”
The McClintocks went from needing four people to feed out to 1,500 cows to having one person feeding 2,000 cows on the feed pad, feeding up to 12 lots of silage a day, as well as fodder beet.
“It’s been brilliant. It makes me redundant – not quite,” Russell jokes. “It cut staff numbers in half.”
Russell says it is the fodder beet that puts the condition on the cows. “The beauty of the beet is it’s going to be putting the condition on the cows, we would be battling to put condition on with straight grass.”
Chipping the beet is a new initiative this season, meaning the cows can eat the beet faster and more cows get an even feed ratio.