Few forages can compete with fodder beet in dairy cow rations.
Its energy and dry matter content competes with the other forages, even maize silage. This can help to increase yields from forages and take the pressure off more expensive feeds.
This is the time of year to consider growing a crop or securing a grower and contractor who can supply fodder beet for the forthcoming season.
Fodder beet is reliable, producing consistent yields regardless of growing conditions. Limagrain UK trials show that even in a dry summer, beet keeps growing and produces good yields.
Yields are typically between 70 and 80 tonnes per hectare – and with new genetics, they can reach 100 tonnes per hectare. MEs are typically between 13 and 13.5 megajoules per kilogramme of dry matter in good varieties.
Sown in spring, up to early May, fodder beet can follow first-cut silage and provide a valuable break crop to help combat pests and diseases in grassland. It can also slot easily into an arable rotation if it’s lifted in October, allowing a winter cereal crop to be drilled.
It can be lifted and stored then added to a TMR or grazed by youngstock or dry cows in situ – or a bit of both.
Pick your beet
A fodder beet variety with medium dry matter content and that has 60% or less root in the ground (compared to some varieties that have 70% or more of their root below ground) is better suited to dairy systems. These are cleaner and easier to harvest or to graze.
Robbos and Blaze are prime examples. They have 60% or less of their root in the ground and both have consistent and reliable yields.
Fosyma, added to the National List in 2020, is also ideal for dairy. It is rhizomania tolerant, resistant to powdery mildew, rust and leafspot, as has a high tolerance to bolting.