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Grazing Factsheets - Annual and Alternative Species

Grazing Factsheets

Species
Annual and Alternative Species

Brassicas for Forage
Brown Midrib Sorghum-Sudangrass
Grazing Maize (Corn)
Turnips for Forage
Soybeans for Forage
Rape for Forage
Oats for Fall/Spring Grazing
Field Peas for Forage

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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Brassicas for Forage

Illinois

General Information

Brassicas are members of the mustard family (crucifer) and are commonly used for sheep and cattle feed in Europe, Asia, and New Zealand. Brassicas can increase mid-summer forage availability but have a particular advantage for late fall-winter grazing. Thus, reducing the need for stored harvested forages. Forage brassicas, such as turnips, rape, kale, and swedes (rutabaga) are high yielding, high quality fast growing crops. Dry matter yields of 7,000 lbs. (turnips), 8,000 lbs. (rape), and 12,000 lbs. (kale) have been recorded. The leaves and stems have tested 17 to 25% crude protein and 65 to 80% digestibility. The roots have 10 to 14% crude protein and 80 to 85% digestibility. Grazing may begin as early as 60-70 days with turnips, 60 days with kale, 150-180 days with swedes for maximum production. Number of grazings depends upon planting date, rainfall and growth rate. 

Applicability

These crops maintain quality, if not heading, well into freezing temperatures. Grazing from mid-September to January depends upon critical temperatures and snow cover. Top growth generally can survive temperatures between 15-20 degrees F, while the roots are about 5 degrees hardier. The cold tolerant crop is not drought or heat resistant. Moisture requirements are relatively high; however, on waterlogged soils they have reduced winter hardiness and increased levels of root diseases.

Characteristics

Brassicas are very high in crude protein and energy, but extremely low in fiber. Their low fiber content results in rumen action similar to concentrate feeding; thus, proper roughage supplementation is necessary. They should never comprise more than two-thirds of the forage portion of the diet with the remainder provided by grass hay or stockpiled pasture. Adequate grass supplementation prevents animal health problems when grazing brassicas.

Establishment

Brassicas require good soil drainage and grow best on soils with a pH between 5.3 and 6.8 with medium levels of phosphorus and potassium. Apply 50-75 lbs. of nitrogen at planting. Brassicas can be no-tilled into a sod killed with glyphosate or seeded into small grain stubble. Clean till seedings work well but may have increase insect pressure. Use 1.5 to 2 lbs./A of seed for turnip and swedes and 3.5 to 4 lbs./A for rape and kale. Planting higher rates can cause smaller tuber development. Large tubers reduce choking and permit extended grazing.Drill the seed in 6-8” row spacing for no-tillage and conventional tilled seedbeds. Seed can be broadcast and incorporated by cultipacking. Planting depth should not exceed .5” deep. If broadcasting is an option, consider mixing the seed in fertilizer to keep the seeding rates low enough.

No-till seeding in sod is recommended for erosion control but the sod must generally be controlled by herbicides. Broadcast spray gramoxone extra will control the grass long enough for establishment. Brassicas can also be seeded with cereal rye which will protect the soil after grazing and add roughage to the forage mix.

Turnips can be seeded any time from when soil temperature reaches 50 degrees F until 70 days prior to a killing frost. Seeding normally occurs mid-April through May for summer grazing or in mid-July to mid-August (eight weeks before the ideal wheat planting date) for fall/winter grazing.

Do not plant brassicas on the same site more than two consecutive years due to disease buildup. Insecticide for flea beetle control may be necessary in some years. Turnips at 60 days post planting.

Management

Strip grazing where forage is rationed every day or two provides the most efficient usage. Rape, kale and mustard have regrowth potential if not grazed below six inches. Turnips will regrow if the growing point at the top of the bulb is not removed. Two cycles may be possible with rotational grazing if rainfall is adequate.

Grazing can begin when the forage is about 12 inches tall (60-90) days after planting. The pasture should be grazed for a short period and the livestock removed to allow regrowth of brassica.

The forage quality is so high that it should be considered similar to concentrate feeds and precautions taken accordingly. Brassica crops can cause animal health disorders if not grazed properly. The main disorders are bloat, atypical pnuemonia, nitrate poisoning, hemolytic anemia (mainly kale), hypothyroidism, and polioencephalomalacia. These disorders can be prevented by good grazing management practices:

1. Introduce grazing animals to brassica pastures slowly (over 3-4 days). Avoid abrupt dietary changes from dry summer pastures to lush brassica pastures. Don’t turn hungry animals that are not adapted to brassicas into a brassica pasture.

2. Brassica crops should not constitute more than 65-75% of the animals diet. Supplement with dry hay or stockpiled grasses while grazing brassicas. No-tilling into grass sod or planting with rye can help to reduce potential grazing problems.

References

  • Ohio State University (Bulletin 872-98) – Maximizing Fall and Winter Grazing of Beef Cows and Stocker Cattle
  • Ohio State University (AGF-020-92) – Brassicas for Forage
  • Pennsylvania State University (Agronomy Facts 33) – Use of Brassica Crops to Extend the Grazing Season
  • University of Illinois (Agronomy Facts F – 51) – Winter Forage from Turnips, Swede, Rape, Chinese Cabbage Hybrids, and Kale
  • University of Nebraska (NebGuide G89-933-A) – Supplemental Pastures for Sheep
  • University of Wisconsin (FC 15.4.1) – Dan Undersander Extension Forage Agronomist – Use of Brassica Crops in Grazing Systems

Where to Get Help

For more information Brassicas for forage testing contact your local office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, listed in the telephone Directory under “U.S. Government,” or the University of Illinois Extension.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Brown Midrib Sorghum-Sudangrass

Illinois

What is a “midrib”?

Most grass plants have a very obvious vein in the leaf blade that extends from the base of the leaf to its tip. This vein is called the midrib. 

What is the significance of the color brown?

Grass midribs are typically a whitish green color. Mutations of corn, sorghum and pearl millet have been identified that result in a brown midrib. The significance of the mutation is the plant tissues have less lignin than normal tissues. The brown color is also obvious in the stem, especially in cross section.

What is lignin?

Lignin is a compound with no predetermined order. It is formed with multiple reactions involving phenolic compounds (hydroxyl derivatives of aromatic hydrocarbons). It forms covalent cross-linkages with hemicellulose, but not with cellulose. These three compounds, hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin, are the components of plant cell walls.

Why is lignin important?

Lignin content increases as a plant matures and is thought to provide the structure necessary to help a plant grow erect. Whereas lignin might hold a plant erect; too much lignin results in less intake by the consuming animal and reduce cell wall digestibility. The mutation associated with the brown midrib trait results in a chance in enzyme activity associated with the process of lignin formation. Less lignin and the chemical attributes of lignin occur with the mutation.

Brown midrib sorghums are available

Several varieties are now available and others are being developed. Production Plus + Seeds, located in Plainview, TX, released ‘NutriPlus BMR’ brown midrib sorghum-sudangrass in 1996. Since, they have released brown midrib forage sorghums. These sorghums do not have the negative issue associated with corn productivity (Mike Northcutt, personal communication). ABT has released BMR 100 (forage sorghum) and SS200 BMR (sorghum-sudangrass). Improved palatability observed in 1998. Dry ewes had free choice pasture of NutriPlus BMR or a normal sorghum-sudangrass at the Purdue University Agronomy Research Center, West Lafayette, IN, in 1998. Keith Johnson, Forage Crop Specialist, Agronomy Department, Purdue University, was impressed with how ewes would graze the lower stem of the brown midrib hybrid in preference to leaf tissue of a normal hybrid. These observations resulted in similar demonstrations being sown in 1999 at the: 1) Beef and Sheep Units associated with the Animal Sciences Research and Education Research Center at Purdue University; 2) Feldun-Purdue Ag Center; and 3) Purdue Agronomy Research Center. Differences in animal performance were also conducted in 1999 with replacement beef heifers at Feldun-Purdue Ag Center and with beef cows-calves at the Southern IN Purdue Ag Center located near Dubois, IN.

Where can seed be found?

Sorghum-sudangrass and forage sorghums with brown midrib trait are now available through several seed distributors.

Reference

Purdue University – Brown Midrib Sorghum-sudangrass – Taste Better, Less Filling, Keith Johnson – Forage Crop Specialist Agronomy Department, Purdue University.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Grazing Maize (Corn)

Illinois

What

Grazing standing corn as a winter-feed source for cattle. Grazing standing corn is becoming a viable option where pasture acres are limited and the cattle need a higher energy feed to carry them through the demanding winter months.

Maize can be grazed in the summer months as well as winter. Grazing may be used as needed during any time of the year; however, if the plant is grazed below the growing point it will not re-grow. If grazed above the growing point, the plant can re-grow but will not make grain, just foliage. Usually, grazing occurs during times of drought or when the cool season forages are in a growth slump. The management techniques for grazing are the same regardless of the season grazed. Start them slow and limit feed!   

Why

Corn is a readily available food source for cattle on most Midwestern farms. The research and field trials are taking place in Ohio to Nebraska in the Corn Belt. If the producer watches the economics closely he can feed his cows from 50 cents to 60 cents per day. This is calculated from the estimated bushels of corn times the market value of the crop. This option also allows for a rest period for the grasses that can be stockpiled for winter grazing, such as tall fescue. It is easier for most cattlemen to reduce the costs than raise the production level.   

How

First a producer must look at the best corn hybrids for grazing, if that is the goal. Most seed corn companies have specific hybrids that are recommended for silage. These hybrids tend to have a higher leaf to stalk ratio. Also, the plants will have smaller stalks, which are bred to be more digestible for silage and grazing.

There are different methods of managing your corn for grazing that can be used. One client mows a path through the field to put up the electric fence; this allows the farmer to build the fence easier. The cows will pike up the shredded stalks and corn from under the fence, so nothing is lost anyway. Another client shells his corn and leaves every other corn head pass standing, this allows for the fence to be built in the existing shelled rows. This also allows the cows to have a wider access to more stalks in the field than corn. Most all that graze standing corn will limit the area of access to about one tenth of an acre at a time. This is done even with 90 to 100 cows. Some clients have allowed a limited access to corn, at first, for only an hour or two at a time for the first day into each new section. This is done because the cows will usually go from ear to ear and feed first only on the grain.  

Where

For more information about grazing maize, contact your local office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, listed in the telephone book directory under U.S. Government, or the University of Illinois Extension.
 


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Turnips for Forage

Illinois

General Information

Turnips are short-season root brassicas that provide roots, stem and leaf growth rotational grazing or strip grazing 70 - 90 days after seeding. Leaves can be grazed from mid-September until April depending upon critical low temperatures and snow cover. Top growth generally will survive temperatures between 15-20 °F, while bulbs will be bout 5 °F colder.   

Growth Characteristics

The proportions of tops and roots varies markedly depending on variety, crop age and planting date. Turnip crops can vary from 90% top/10 % roots to 15% top/85% roots. Yields can be up to 12,000 lb/acre of dry matter. The tops can have 15 - 24% crude protein while roots contain 12 - 15% crude protein. This has some significance in that stockpiled tops appear to be more vulnerable to weather and pest damage than roots. Some of the new forage type turnips produce relatively more top dry matter than roots. They also feature several growing points for regrowth. Turnips can be seeded either in spring or fall for grazing. Turnips should not be planted in the spring until soil temperatures is at least 50° F. Maximum production occurs during a 70 - 75 day growing period.

Establishment

Turnips require good soil drainage and a soil pH should be in the range of 5.5 - 6.8. Turnips can be no-tilled into a sod provided it has been killed with glyphosate. This reduces insect problems. They can also be seeded into wheat stubble. Clean till seeding works well but may have increased insect pressure. If seeding after crop farming, herbicide carryover residues are an enormous problem for turnips. Some commonly used herbicides can affect the establishment and growth of turnips for up to 24 months. As a rule, carry-over label recommendations for sugar beets are usually applicable to most members of the turnips varieties. Use 2 - 4 lbs of seed per acre for turnips. Turnips can be seed conventional, no-till or aerial. Turnip seed is small and it is essential that it be seeded into a fine, firm seedbed with adequate moisture for germination. Drill the seed on 6 - 8 inch row spacing and place seed no more than 1/2 to ¼ inch deep. Some producers have had success in aerial seeding of turnips, small grain crops in to standing corn in mid-August. Again, check out your herbicide program for potential carryover and grazing restrictions before attempting this seeding method.

Fertilizer should be applied at the time of seeding to give the turnips a competitive edge on weeds. Apply 75 - 80 pounds per acre of nitrogen and fertilize with phosphorus and potassium similar to what would be applied for a small grain.

Types of Turnips

photo of leafy turnipphoto of forage turnipphoto of globe turnipphoto of tankard turnip

         Leafy - 7 Top                        Forage Turnip                              Globe                                 Tankard
          Lower Forage                            High Forage                           Medium Forage                           High Bulb
               Yield                                       Yield                                         Yield                                      Yield
          Lower Bulb                                 Low Bulb                               Medium Bulb                          Medium Forage
               Yield                                       Yield                                         Yield                                      Yield

Management

Although turnips can be harvested for green chop, or baled, they are most often grazed. Rotational grazing or strip grazing help reduce trampling and waste by livestock. During the growing season, strip-grazing with a break wire in front of and behind the animals can be used to control consumption, allow regrowth, prevent wastage, and conserving available dry matter. Strip-grazing limits grazing damage to the root and lower leaf, allowing leaf surface for regeneration of plant growth. If regrowth is desired, at least two inches of leaf should be left intact. Generally, animals will consume the leafy portion of the plant before progressing to the root portion.

Feed

Turnips are highly digestible, and do not contain much “effective fiber”—the sort of fiber that makes the animal chew. Feeding extra fiber means more chewing and more salivation for the animal. It is important to feed dry roughage with turnips to prevent disease problems and achieve maximal daily gains. When introducing animals to turnips, allow stock access to pasture, or feed hay, straw or silage before letting stock onto turnip crop. This helps prevent gorging by some animals and helps rumen microbes adjust to the feed. Two to three pounds of grain, grass hay, alfalfa hay, or straw should be fed per head per day. Although quality need not be high, the palatability of the dry roughage must be good enough that the animal will consume adequate amounts daily. One alternative is to allow free access to corn stalk field adjacent to the turnip field. Another alternative is to plant small grain crops with the turnips.

References

Brassicas for Forage (AGF-020-92) Ohio State University Extension
Forages-Species: Brassicas, PennState University
Brassicas for Fall Grazing, David W. Koch, Extension Agronomist, Department of Plant Sciences


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Soybeans for Forage

Illinois

General Information

This fact sheet will discuss both grain soybean and the forage soybean cultivars used as a forage crop. Grain soybean has been utilized as an “emergency” or alternative forage crop when traditional forages are in short supply.

Three forage soybean cultivars (Derry, Donegal, and Tyrone) were released by the USDA-ARS in 1997 and were developed for forage and not for grain production.   

Adaptability

If growing a grain soybean variety for forage, it should have an indeterminate growth habit (vegetative growth continues beyond flowering) and be of a Maturity Group (MG) adapted for the area. Wisconsin research has shown that with grain soybean the greatest forage yield (3 - 3.5 tons dry matter per acre) and highest quality (19% crude protein) is obtained at R6 (full seed or ‘green bean’ stage) to R7 (beginning maturity) when the pod proportion of total forage is high.

Of the USDA-ARS forage soybean, Derry (MG VI) is adapted to the northern Midwest, Donegal (MG V) adapted to the Northeast, and Tyrone (MG VII) is adapted to the Southern States.    

Characteristics

Forage soybean has the same appearance as grain soybean but demonstrates a big growth increase in August. Forage soybean has an upright-growing habit and may reach heights of 6 feet or more. Derry has good lodging resistance, Donegal is prone to lodging, and Tyrone has moderate resistance to lodging. Both grain and forage soybeans do not regrow following harvest.   

Establishment

With timely planting, soybean harvested as forage should be planted in row widths of 20 inches or less and plant population should be comparable to that recommended for grain production (160,000 to 170,000 seeds per acre).

Minnesota research found that soybean planted in 10 inch rows yielded 4.6 tons dry matter per acre while soybean in 30 inch rows yielded 4.2 tons dry matter per acre. However, row width did not affect forage quality. Wisconsin data indicated 0.5 ton dry matter per acre increase when row widths were reduced from 30 inches to 8 inches.

Management

The optimal stage to harvest forage soybean has not been conclusively determined. As a guide, consider harvest at the R3 stage or when pods are forming at the upper nodes on the main stem.

Iowa State University research found that by 135 days after planting, forage cultivars yielded 5 - 19% more dry matter than the top forage yielding grain cultivar. Forage cultivars were 37 - 69% taller than the tallest grain cultivar. Research at Ames, found that the Derry forage cultivar harvested 116 days after planting had 15% crude protein. In summary, the research showed that forage cultivars produced more dry matter yield than grain cultivars, but had lower leaf to stem ratio and lower leaf + pod to stem ratio in August and September, respectively, which may decrease the forage quality.

Research from Minnesota found the forage cultivars reached an average maturity of R3 (beginning pod stage) when the grain cultivars had reached R6 and R7. The forage cultivars produced little or no grain.

USDA research in Wisconsin found that two of the new forage cultivars appear to ensile better than a grain soybean cultivar. With all three cultivars, ensiling is improved if harvest is delayed until at least late August (50% pod fill in the grain cultivar). As a guide, forage soybean harvested for silage should be cut at the green pod stage and prior to the foliage turning yellow.

Be aware of the feeding/grazing restrictions on the labels of pesticides that have been used. Very few herbicides and insecticides are cleared for use in soybean that will be harvested as forage (i.e. hay, silage, and grazing).

Some work has shown promise for a mixed planting of forage soybean with grain sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass. Ohio data has suggested a 2 to 1 ratio (dry matter basis) of grass crop to grain soybean forage is optimum for improved fermentation and palatability.

Summary

Forage soybean provides an optional crop for silage and grazing, but to reduce selective grazing it may be best to utilize the crop as silage. Many of the specific production and management guidelines for forage soybean are not yet established. Improvements in forage soybean will occur as additional research is conducted.

Where to Get Help

For more information about soybean for forage, contact the local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or University of Illinois Extension.

Acknowledgements

Information in this fact sheet was adapted from a number of sources, including the USDA, Agronomy Journal, Volume 93, Numbers 1 and 5; and Crop Sciences, Volume 38.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Rape for Forage

Illinois

General Information

Rape is a multi-stemmed crop with fibrous roots. Stems vary in length, diameter, and palatability to livestock according to variety. The giant types are used for cattle and sheep pasture, while the dwarf type is best suited for finishing lambs. The giant types of rape have higher yields and are more palatable than the dwarf versions. Rape is ready to harvest about 90 - 120 days after planting, and should be rotationally or strip-grazed. The plant develops a reddish tinge when ready for harvest. Rape leaves and stems have lower protein level (14-17%) than turnips. Leave a ten-inch stubble to facilitate rapid regrowth. Rapes can attain over 8,000-lb/ acre of dry matter.   

Establishment

Rape requires good soil drainage and the soil pH should be in the range of 5.5 - 6.8. Rape can be no-tilled into a sod, provided it has been killed with glyphosate. This reduces insect problems. They can also be seeded into wheat stubble. Clean till seeding works well but may have increased insect pressure. If seeding after crop farming, herbicide carryover residues are an enormous problem for rape. Some commonly used herbicides can affect the establishment and growth of turnips for up to 24 months. As a rule, carry-over label recommendations for sugar beets are usually applicable to most members of the turnips varieties. Use 3 - 4 lbs/acre of seed for rape; the higher seeding rate is recommended for spring planting. Rape can be seed conventional, no-till or aerial. Drill the seed on 6-8 inch row spacing and place seed no more than 1/2 to ¼ inch deep.

Fertilizer should be applied at the time of seeding to give the rape competitive edge on weeds. Apply 75 - 80 pounds per acre of nitrogen and fertilize with phosphorus and potassium similar to what would be applied for a small grain.   

Management

Rape crops are most often grazed. Rotational grazing or strip grazing help reduce trampling and waste by livestock. During the growing season, strip-grazing with a break wire in front of and behind the animals can be used to control consumption, allow regrowth, prevent wastage, and conserve available dry matter. Strip-grazing limits grazing damage to the root and lower leaf, allowing leaf surface for regeneration of plant growth. If regrowth is desired, at least ten inches of leaf should be left intact.  

Feed

Rape is highly digestible, and does not contain much “effective fiber”—the sort of fiber that makes an animal chew. Feeding extra fiber means more chewing and more salivation for the animal. It is important to feed dry roughage with rape in order to prevent disease problems and achieve maximal daily gains. When introducing animals to rape, allow stock access to pasture, or feed hay, straw or silage before letting stock onto rape crop. This helps prevent gorging by some animals and helps rumen microbes adjust to the feed. Two to three pounds of grain, grass hay, alfalfa hay, or straw should be fed per head per day. Although quality need not be high, the palatability of the dry roughage must be good enough that the animal will consume adequate amounts daily. One alternative is to allow free access to corn stalk field adjacent to the rape field. Another alternative is to plant small grain crops with the rape.
 

References

Brassicas for Forage (AGF-020-92) Ohio State University Extension
Forages-Species: Brassicas, PennState University
Brassicas for Fall Grazing, David W. Koch, Extension Agronomist, Department of Plant Sciences


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

Download Factsheet  PDF

 


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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Oats for Fall/Spring Grazing

Illinois

General Information

Oats can be used for grazing and can be planted in both the spring and fall. Oats can provide a very palatable, high quantity, of a moderate quality forage. Spring oats can be planted in the fall for late fall and winter grazing. Oats will continue growing long after they would need to be cut for hay. Unlike cereal rye, wheat and triticale that go dormant in the fall, spring oats continue growing until they are killed by several hours of temperatures that fall below 27° F.

Oat forage is nutritious enough for sheep, dry dairy cows, beef cattle, and horses. Typically, they will contain 25-30% crude protein level from green up until jointing. The plants need to be at least 8 -10 inches tall before grazing. Protein levels will drop 14-16% as the plants start to head out. Planting spring oats in August can produce a large amount of excellent winter feed. Turnips can be added to the seeding to provide more energy for acres that can be grazed.   

Fall Seeding

Grazing fall-seeded spring oats is a common practice in Illinois. Spring oats may be grazed in the autumn as soon as they have enough top growth, or they maybe stockpiled for late fall and early winter grazing. Fall seeding can begin the first half of August to ensure pasture is available in autumn. Later seeding can also produce ample feed for late fall grazing. Seeding rates for spring oats alone is 2 - 3 bushels per acre. If mixed with
turnips and other cereal grains, use 1 bushel per acre. Fall seeding of oats can produce from one half ton to one and one-half tons of forage per acre.

Use a soil test to determine how much fertilizer to apply. Oats can utilize carry over fertilizer applied for a crop not planted or not totally used by previous crop. The nitrogen rates should range from 40 - 80 pounds per acre. Higher rates of nitrogen increase the amount of top growth available for autumn grazing. Phosphorus and potassium should be applied according to soil test levels before planting.   

Grazing Management

Fall grazing should be delayed until plants are well established (6 - 8 inches tall). Oat plants grazed before this time will likely suffer from severe defoliation and result in lower fall production. On the other hand, excessive delay will result in rank, succulent plants, which are easily damaged during grazing. For continued growth in the fall and spring, stocking rate should be light enough to avoid continuous complete removal of top growth (graze to about 2-3 inches).

Rotational grazing has been shown to increase production of oats similar to perennial grass pastures.  

Spring Seeding

Spring-seeded oats make excellent pasture in the spring and summer. Seeding rates and fertility are similar to those in the fall. Start grazing the plants when they are 8 - 10 inches tall graze down to 2 - 3 inches tall, and rest for three to four weeks between grazing. Application of nitrogen after grazing will help increase future production.
 

Maximize Fall Yields

Seeding a fall mixture of spring oats, turnips, and cereal rye will help maximize total forage yields. The spring oats and turnips will produce excellent fall growth and then if the crop is rotational grazed, the cereal rye will be available for spring growth. Annual ryegrass maybe used in place of the cereal rye.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

Download Factsheet  PDF

 


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Outline of State of Illinois with GrassSpecies
Annual and Alternative Species

Field Peas for Forage

Illinois

General Information

The Field pea is an annual cool-season grain legume crop. There are two main types of field peas. One type has normal leaves and vine lengths of 3’ - 6’; the second type is semi-leafless and has modified leaflets reduced to tendrils, resulting in shorter vine lengths of 2’ - 4’. Field peas are well adapted to cool, semiarid climates. Field pea seeds germinate at a soil temperature of 40°F. Field peas can withstand heavy frost once established. They do not grow well in hot weather. Optimal growing temperatures are between 60 and 70°F. Field peas prefer well limed soils with a pH near 7.0, but are reported to tolerate soil pH as low as 4.2 and as high as 8.3.  

Use

Field peas can be used as a cover crop, green manure, or forage and hay and silage. Hay is good quality, but peas are more succulent than vetches and more difficult to cure. Regrowth after mowing or grazing is poor. Field peas are often planted in mixtures with cereal grains for grazing or silage. Field peas grown with barley, oats, triticale, or wheat provide excellent livestock forage. The cereal crop protects the soil during winter when field pea growth is slow, and provides a support for vines to climb, keeping pea vegetation off the ground where it is more likely to rot. Field peas can produce between 1 - 3 tons of dry matter per acre.    

Management

Field peas can be grown on a wide range of soil types, from light sandy to heavy clay. Field peas have moisture requirements similar to those of cereal grains. However, field peas have lower tolerance to waterlogged soil conditions than cereal grains. Poorly drained soils should be avoided when growing field peas.

Field peas are most often grown on re-crop following small grains. Being a legume, field peas will fix the majority of required nitrogen if the seed is properly inoculated. Residual nitrogen will also be present for the succeeding crop.

Field peas can be grown in a no-till or conventional-till cropping system. Field pea seed requires considerably higher amounts of moisture for germination than cereal grains. Avoid excessive tillage in the spring to avoid drying out the seedbed. Field peas should be seeded in early spring, April to mid-May, so that flowering will occur during potentially cooler weather. The seeding rate depends on seed size. Field pea varieties will range from 1,600 to 5,000 seeds per pound. A plant population of 300,000 plants per acre or 7 - 8 plants per square foot is recommended. For optimal results, drill the seed into a smooth seedbed at a depth of 1 - 2 inches.


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