Out-wintering on forage brassicas

Published 14 September 12

This report describes an experiment which was used to evaluate the performance of in-calf dairy heifers either housed and fed silage or out-wintered on strip grazed stubble turnips with the target to achieve a daily live weight gain (DLWG) of 0.7 to 0.8kg.

In conclusion the experiment indicated that:

• Target DLWGs of 0.7-0.8kg to achieve 2 year calving can be achieved with out-wintering systems based on stubble turnips and haylage/silage on a 'low cost extensive system'

• Out-wintered heifers do not suffer a growth check when moved onto a grass sward in the spring

• There were no welfare implications for the out-wintered heifers

• Variable costs per kg gain were very similar however the out-wintered heifers recorded significantly lower fixed plus variable costs per kg gain

• An out-wintering system based on stubble turnips and haylage for in-calf replacement heifers had no significant effect (p>0.05) on subsequent heifer calving or lactation performance