The vast majority of Redstart is used for the purpose of yielding a single bulky crop that can be grazed from October/November onwards.
The opportunity for earlier sown Redstart for the purpose of multiple grazing has now passed, July 15th usually marks the ideal time for sowing Redstart destined for a single graze.
Advantages of out-wintering on Redstart
With all talks of a fodder scarcity thankfully abated, Redstart’s many advantages still apply. This hybrid rape/kale brassica can be mature in 90 days from sowing and be utilised from October onwards as a high energy protein crop for out-wintering cattle or sheep. The forage rape genes allow the crop to grow quickly, while the kale genes deliver excellent winter hardiness.
In addition to its use as an out-wintering option, in the absence of an appropriate housing facility, many farmers will use it to graze replacement heifers over the winter months; often reporting how heifers coming off Redstart and then going to grass in spring will thrive better than their housed equivalent. Out-wintered heifers on Redstart will often reach their weight targets for breeding quicker.
Sowing Redstart in July will generally give the best result in terms of total yield; remembering a days’ growth in July, is worth a week in August or a month in September.
Expected yield from a well established crop of Redstart will result in 6-8 t DM/ha @ 12-14% DM and 18-20% CP and Energy levels of 10-11 MJ/kg DM when sown at the recommended rate of 3 to 3.5 kg/acre if drilled or 4.0 kg/acre if broadcast.
Brassicas have a high requirement for nitrogen (N) phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and an adequate supply of these nutrients is critical to maximise the yield potential of the crop. However, remaining within your nitrates' directive allowances is important.
Brassicas are low in certain minerals especially selenium, iodine, copper and cobalt. Animals should be given a bolus prior to grazing to ensure adequate minerals are supplied. In addition, brassicas are low in fibre and therefore at feed-out, supplementing with fibre, e.g. silage or straw, is critical for animal health. With this in mind, take the opportunity at time of sowing to place bales in the field. By doing so at this time, you minimise machinery travelling when ground conditions are poor. This will also help reduce your workload in the winter.