Winter canola boosts lamb health, bottom line

Southern NSW farmer Murray Scholz. Image courtesy of Pacific Seeds

Graze and grain winter hybrid canola is becoming a regular feature at Murray Scholz’s property in southern NSW after seeing the lamb health and financial benefits.

Mr Scholz, who runs mixed farming enterprise Dunoon, north of Culcairn, with his wife Emma and their children, Ben, Tara and Georgia, said 2018 is his fourth growing variety Hyola 970CL.

He said because there was plenty of feed in the crop, there was no need to disrupt the ewes, leading to less lambing issues as they aren’t stressed, and less metabolic issues in the ewes.

“It can be a challenge for ewes to maintain weight during lambing and the weeks following birth as they must provide for themselves as well as their offspring,” Mr Scholz said.

“The ewes have maintained weight and body condition score since coming onto this crop and during lambing that is really important.”

He estimates that his business has gained a minimum of $300/ha on top of the value of the harvested canola grain by including the winter hybrid.

“The crop is cost effective as it cuts out the need for labour and constant feed supplement costs during a dry autumn like we’ve just had.”

To spread their production risk, the family property comprises cattle, crossbred sheep and cereal/oilseed cropping.

He said the last few seasons had been vastly different, providing plenty of opportunity to achieve maximum potential out of the long season crop.

“It has been a big learning curve managing these new winter hybrid types, but the extra financial and agronomic rotational value they can bring to both the feed and grain components of my business is invaluable.”

Mr Scholz planted 35ha of Hyola 970CL in late February 2018 after a 25mm rain event.

He used a disc seeder on narrow row spacings (19cm) at 15mm deep and applied 80kg/ha of MAP.

The paddock, which was previously sown to wheat, was split into two paddocks with an electric wire so the ewes can rotationally graze, and lamb comfortably without having to compete for feed.

The stocking rate is 45 DSE and he wouldn’t go much higher than that on lambing ewes.

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