Meat & Livestock News

Enhancing Lamb Production with Forage Brassicas: A Case Study from NSW


  • NSW sheep producers, the Kershaws, have successfully integrated forage brassicas into their mixed farming operation, significantly boosting lamb production.
  • The forage brassicas, including Greenland forage rape, Raphno, and Hyola® 970CL, have provided multiple grazings and substantial weight gains for weaner lambs.
  • The Kershaws’ experience underscores the importance of clean paddocks, intensive stocking, and high nitrogen requirements for optimal forage brassica growth.

In the southwest slopes of NSW, Rod and Nick Kershaw have made a notable advancement in their prime lamb and wool enterprise by incorporating forage brassicas into their mixed farming operation. This strategic move has not only enhanced their on-farm lamb production but also contributed to maintaining clean paddocks alongside their cropping program.

The Kershaws aim to be self-sufficient in feed, relying on pastures, grazing crops, and their own hay and grain storage, rather than purchasing feed.

Their grazing program begins with planting dual-purpose canola in late summer, followed by moving pregnant ewes to these paddocks just before lambing in May. The canola is then locked up in June, and the ewes and lambs are transitioned to grazing wheat crops.

Nick Kershaw explains the critical role of grazing crops in their operation, especially during lambing when ewes require the most feed. Post-weaning in August, the nutritional needs of the ewes decrease, allowing them to return to pastures, while the weaners continue on high-quality feed to maximise weight gain.

The decision to trial forage brassicas came during the drought years starting from 2016, when there was a need for quality feed post-weaning. The Kershaws experimented with Greenland forage rape, Raphno, and Hyola® 970CL, sown at the end of winter, which led to impressive weight gains among the weaner lambs.

Nick appreciates the ability of forage brassicas to withstand heavy grazing and, in favourable conditions, provide multiple grazings. He found that intensively stocking the brassicas in spring at 60–80 dry sheep equivalent (DSE) per hectare was more effective than the 30–40 DSE used for dual-purpose canola. This intensive grazing, followed by urea application before rainfall, allowed for repeated grazings through to summer.

Despite not planting forage brassicas during the recent wet years, Nick plans to reintroduce them in drier or more ‘normal’ conditions, highlighting their value as a reliable feed option.

Key lessons from the Kershaws’ experience include the necessity of sowing forage brassicas in clean paddocks, the benefits of intensive stocking and rotation, and the high nitrogen requirement of brassicas for optimal growth.

This case study not only demonstrates the practical benefits of forage brassicas in enhancing lamb production but also offers valuable insights into effective grazing management practices that can be adopted by other producers facing similar challenges.