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Farmers urged to make the most of weather damaged crops

Headers are revving up across the Central Tablelands with harvest about to begin, and many farmers are considering storing grain for livestock feed to make the most of weather and frost damaged crops.

Brett Littler from Central Tablelands Local Land Services says there have been some reports of frost damage in ripening crops.

“As well as some frost damage, with so much rain about, we have been getting reports of low protein grain.”

“Any degree of weather or frost damage will result in a drop in prices, so farmers are looking at alternatives to get a better return from their grain crops, chiefly through value adding by feeding that grain,” said Brett.

“With stock prices so high, while grain prices are lacklustre, keeping weather damaged grain as a stock feed can be a sensible option depending on grain quality.

“Once you have the crop in the bin, definitely get the grain quality tested so you can determine its true feed value. Decisions can then be made about what additives might be needed and the sums calculated about how cost effective it will be to use this grain as a feed source.

“With oats, it’s also helpful to check the crop variety, as critical issues like lignin content don’t always show up in feed tests.”

“Varieties with high hull lignin are difficult for stock to digest such as Coolabah, Echidna, and Mortlock. However Yarran and Yiddah are good varieties for low lignin and will make very good stock feed as long as weather and frost damage haven’t too severely affected other grain quality attributes.

“Grain that’s been hit with slight to severe frost damage can still provide useful feed, particularly for sheep. However utilising this grain for cattle can be problematic. If frost damage causes a lot of variation in grain size, it will be more difficult to process in a roller mill. This can cause issues with the grain being over processed, resulting in health issues for cattle.

“Depending on what’s happened in the paddock, particularly with some of the barley varieties, frost can have a detrimental effect on feed quality.”

With low prices on offer for weather damaged crops, value adding on farm by feeding grain to valuable stock is definitely worth considering,” concluded Brett. “However testing feed quality and ensuring low lignin content in oats, are critical steps in making the most of weather and frost damaged grain.”

For more information on how to get the best from your livestock on crops or grain feeding, please call Brett Littler on Central Tablelands Local Land Services on 02 6378 1700.

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439608370