Making the most from brassica pasture grazing

Brassica crops are a very useful component of a forage feed programme for dairy, beef and prime lamb production systems. Brassica crops, in general, are extremely low fibre, high protein (>16%) and highly digestible (>85%) feed, however, grazed incorrectly, are likely to cause some animal health issues. A number of chemical compounds, naturally present in Brassica forages to a varying degree, are hydrolysed by certain enzymes into various secondary compounds which exert negative impact on animal health.

Common animal health issues encountered include: 

Photosensitization, bloat, nitrate poisoning, haemolytic anaemia, polioencephalomalacia and haemoglobinuria. More health problems are encountered with sheep than with cattle. The blindness syndrome typically occurs in cattle.

Animal health issues can be easily avoided by adopting correct feeding management strategies:

  1. Make sure your stock has “full stomach” with good quality cereal hay or clean straw before placing them on Brassica pasture and also introduce stock to Brassica crop slowly over  5 to 7 days;

  2. Do not introduce hungry stock or stock not preconditioned properly;

  3. Do not graze slow growing, stunted and moisture stressed crop;

  4. Avoid grazing over-fertilized (nitrogenous) crop on cloudy days; and

  5. Provide a small amount of nutritionally balanced Stockfeed Pellet containing good amounts of Starch, an Anti-Bloat additive and also including generous amount of trace minerals as Brassica crops are low in zinc, copper, iodine and manganese.

For further information and nutritional support for your livestock call CopRice Nutritionist and On-Farm support team on 1800 267 742.