Forage brassica’s, such as kale, have been extensively used in Europe as a livestock feed for years but have not been widely established in Canada despite many beneficial trains including: fast growth, high yields and high quality. Many forage brassica’s can withstand temperature drops of -5 degrees Celsius and could, therefore, provide Canadian livestock producers with fall and winter feeding options.
LARA established two demonstration plots at the Fort Kent research site in 2014: Forage Kale as a monoculture (seeded 5 lbs/acre) and Forage Kale (seeded 4 lbs/acre) in mixture with Fall Rye (seeded 7 lbs/acre). The demonstration was seeded with the LARA zero-till Fabro small plot drill in early June with 357 lbs/acre of 33-4-3-6.
Emergence of the kale was slow and patchy, but, once established, the kale grew quickly to an average height of 95 cm. The kale appeared to outcompete the fall rye in the second plot, indicating that an increased seeding rate should be used. As a result, only the first plot was utilized to determine yield and quality.
The demonstration was clipped for samples twice: once in mid-October and again in early December. The average yield, due to high moisture content, was 1.62 ton/acre on a dry matter basis. Producers who have grown kale on their operations in Southern Alberta as a livestock feed have found the forage to be an excellent source of nutrition. Quality data is summarized in Table 1.
Table 1. Forage Kale Quality Data, 2014.
To read more about Annual Forage, click here.