Grazing and feeding



  • Choose paddocks well away from waterways; maintain pasture buffer strips between crop and critical source areas (CSA) as required by your local regional council
  • Plan sustainable crop rotations, minimising risk of build up of soil-borne plant diseases
  • Use conservation tillage techniques, slow runoff and reduce downhill slope loss
  • Direct drill first year crops
  • Soil test to identify nutrient levels and define fertiliser requirements
  • Refer to winter cropping and the environment for more information on planting crops to reduce loss of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen


Feed planning and paddock set up

  • Feed budget planning is needed well before crops are grazed
  • Place baleage on crop paddocks before winter, away from CSAs
  • Check stock water supplies; portable troughs that follow the crop face work well
  • Match crop type with stock class (e.g. calves and hoggets need crops that contain more protein); young animals may do less well on bulb crops
  • Match supplement type with stock class. Cereal straws are unsuitable for young stock classes if fed as the only supplement type offered alongside brassica crops
  • Plan for adverse weather events; allow for nearby standoff areas with extra supplements and good shelter from wind

Grazing management

  • Utilisation of crop and equal access to crop by all animals is best achieved when long, narrow breaks are offered rather than short, wide breaks
  • Move the break fence at least once or twice daily to reduce trampling and crop wastage
  • Minimise breakout risk with hot fencing standards and sufficient voltage
  • Double fence the crop break to stop access to full crop area if breakouts occur
  • Graze downhill towards CSAs
  • Offer extra crop area and more high fibre supplementary feed when cold weather is forecast
  • Back fencing planning – as required by your local regional council

Key risks of transitioning onto brassicas

  • Time is needed (up to 10-14 days) for sheep, cattle and deer to transition from pasture to brassica crops
  • Livestock learning to graze a new type of feed takes time
  • The rumen needs time (up to 14 days) to change from a pasture based fermentation to one best able to effectively digest brassicas
  • Cattle need extra care during transition; they are more likely than sheep to have bloat and/or rumen acidosis challenges
  • The first 14 days on brassica crops is when most animal health challenges occur

Once fully transitioned onto brassica crop, livestock should continue to receive at least 20% of the diet as high fibre supplements. Feed no more than 35% of the diet on a dry matter basis as brassica crop for lactating dairy cows, due to risk of brassica milk taint.

Transitioning = gradual increase in percentage of brassica crop in the diet

Brassica production and feed quality guide