Brassicas are a simple crop to grow and there has been renewed interest in their production in recent years, according to Germinal Ireland’s Jim Gibbons.

Gibbons, the Sales and Production Manager with Germinal Ireland, highlighted some of the benefits farmers have experienced from growing forage crops such as kale on their farms at a recent farm walk in Co. Tipperary.

Forage crops, such as kale, have the potential to produce 10-12t of Dry Matter per hectare, while also containing a very good nutrient profile, he said.

“Nutritionally, they are rocket fuel for animals.”

He also said that Brassicas can be used to fill forage gaps, especially when grass is not available during the winter months or on dry farms during times of drought.

Common sense approach

The Germinal Ireland representative said that farmers need to take a common-sense approach when it comes to growing forage crops.

As with all farming systems, he said farmers must comply with cross-compliance legislation when growing these crops.

This includes minimising soil damage and avoiding run-off entering near-by waterways.

Crops should only be sown in free draining and sheltered areas, he said, and farmers should avoid sowing Brassicas on poorly drained or steep sloping ground.

Video: The benefits of Brassicas

Rewards from Brassicas at farm level

Brothers Richie and Paddy Daly run a dairy herd alongside a dairy calf to beef operation in Moyne, Co. Tipperary.

Along with a dairy herd of 200 cows, the brothers rear in the region of 300 Holstein Friesian bull calves on an annual basis.

Over the past decade, forage crops such as kale have become an important part of the Daly’s dairy calf to beef system.

Friesian bulls grazing Kale on the Daly's farm

Friesian bulls grazing Kale on the Daly’s farm

The brothers have mainly grown Maris Kestrel kale, supplied by Germinal Ireland, while this was the first year the pair tried Redstart (a kale and rape hybrid).

Richie said that he was happy with the daily-live weight gains achieved by the Friesian bulls grazing the kale crops over the years.

These bulls tend to gain about 0.8kg/day whilst grazing kale, he said, and looking at this year’s batch, they appear to be performing better than similar stock on grass and concentrate diets.

Depending on the year, the crop will generally feed 70 Friesian bulls over the winter. Usually the bulls graze the crop up until February with some if not all of the stock staying out.

Richie Daly (right) and Jim Gibbons (left) speaking at the recent farm walk

Richie Daly (right) and Jim Gibbons (left) speaking at the recent farm walk