When grass is insufficient to meet your herd nutrition expectations, crops and forages can fill nutrition gaps. Planning forage rotations can take a bit of work, so we have created a wall chart that may help.
There are many forage options available for cropping and pasture renovation. In any given paddock up to five years of planning ahead may be required, depending on the lifespan of the new forage and what crop is to follow. Failure to plan can lead to problems such as gaps in feed supply, reduced crop yields and/or crop failure.
Deer Industry New Zealand has teamed up with industry partners and specialists in the field to create a Forage Planner. The planner can be used alongside advice from an agronomist to choose forage cultivars to match your particular requirements. If you use contractors to get your forages in, this planner can help you plan ahead to get timely service.
The forage planner is easy to use; simply follow the 3 steps from left to right in the red band at the top of the planner.
Step 1 - What have you got at the moment?
Start with some examples of why you might be considering a new crop or looking to renew what is already in the paddock, e.g. damaged pasture or fodder beet that has finished.
Step 2 – What do you need forages for?
This shows the forage type you require, broken down into seasons, with short term (2-5 years) or perennial (5-10+ years) options.
Summer and winter forage type options are usually in the ground for 3-10 months to provide forage at key times, usually mid-late summer. For example a summer brassica crop, or winter to early spring crop like annual ryegrass or fodder beet.
Once you have identified which type of forage you require for the time of sowing – either spring or autumn – and when you should start in Year 1, you are then ready to go on to step 3.
Step 3 – What are my planting options?
The Forage Planner does not contain an exhaustive list of options, but provides some examples of commonly used forages for deer.
Within the row you have chosen, head right across the planner for forages with a finite lifespan. Where forage is only required for a season, the row will end with a stop sign.
A stop sign indicates the end of that forage and requires returning to the start to choose a replacement.
In some longer-term options, a forage that is initially chosen can be oversown with additional forage to extend the productive lifespan of that paddock once it begins to thin out. In these cases the row will not end with a stop sign but instead an arrow continuing to the right (oversown to extend) or, to further options such as drilling in or oversowing seed of another forage.
Some columns have an exclamation mark (!) at the beginning. This means your forage choice may be susceptible to soil herbicide residues. In this case, seek advice with regard to any previous herbicide use in that paddock that may potentially affect subsequent forage performance. Soil testing may be required.
To download an A4 version of the Forage Planner, click here >>
There is also a Paddock planner to accompany the forage planner and this is designed to allow you to build your own customised forage plan for individual paddocks. Simply fill in the chart with the options chosen from your Forage Planner to help you think through your rotation possibilities.
We recommend seeking advice from your local Agronomist prior to planting; they will be able to help you plan ahead for improved productivity to suit your local soil and weather conditions.
Once you have worked out what to plant, use the Paddock Planner to record what is going where, and when. Click here to download >>
To find out more on forage options to assist with your deer enterprise and stock class, see the Deer Facts folder and fact sheets on nutrition here >>