Taking a different approach

Help on the land: Elke Cox, aged nine, helping her dad Rowan Cox decide when their forage sorghum paddocks are reading for grazing at their Coolah, NSW farm earlier this year. Photo: Rowan Cox.

Help on the land: Elke Cox, aged nine, helping her dad Rowan Cox decide when their forage sorghum paddocks are reading for grazing at their Coolah, NSW farm earlier this year. Photo: Rowan Cox.

When Rowan Cox decided not to join friends for Cup Day last November doing sweepstakes at the pub, little did he know he had already picked a winner. Mr Cox instead spent the day on the tractor, sowing S&W Chomper forage sorghum seed on a 14ha block. Mr Cox said he had never grown forage sorghum before. "We've generally been much more likely to plant other forages around here, but the last couple of years have been very sporadic for rainfall, so I thought we'd work with something different," he said.

The Cox property, "Mundroola", is located just north of Coolah, in a region well known for its summer tropical grasses and lucerne, generally sustained by good rainfalls. But different conditions were definitely on the way, and for Mr Cox, planting on the first Tuesday of November last year paid big dividends and 28mm of rain arrived the day after sowing, with the Chomper seed quick out of the ground and establishing itself within six weeks as a one metre high crop.

"My daughter Elke was then around the same height, so every week she jogged up there to see if it was over her eyes", he said. "When it was up, we drafted in 50 yearling heifers. They were at 300kg and looking like $1.60 per kilogram. We had no other feed on-farm and were on the verge of having to destock them at that price".

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However, the stock got into that graze immediately and did very well on it with the crop shooting up to two metres tall. "They just kept grazing in and in around the edges, first leaf, then stalk. Nothing wasted," he said. "They'd graze off the odd seed head that popped up and it'd just keep coming back, with a second, third or fourth wind. They ate it like a kid with a melting ice cream, and they did really well on it".

120 days on Chomper took the cattle to 420kg at $2.30 per kilogram, a result Mr Cox said wouldn't have been possible without the sorghum. "It was a fantastic outcome especially in such an awful, dire season. Chomper outperformed all our usual local forage options for longevity and dry matter. We're looking to put more in this year, for grazing and hopefully also for hay". S&W Seed Company's international sorghum lead, Rodney Coe, said he encouraged all Australian farmers to consider quality forage sorghums for grazing, hay and silage.

"Quality sorghum genetics are ideal for converting the kinds of conditions often faced by Australian farmers into best possible outcomes," he said. "We're taking orders for our Chomper and Sweet As seed now. It's hugely palatable, really high yield and delivers excellent nutrition and holds its own for a long time out there under the sun". S&W Seed Company produces a range of premium seed varieties suited to Australian conditions. For more information, contact sales.aus@swseedco.com.