Swedes have long been favoured by livestock producers who are seeking a fast growing, low cost and high energy winter forage.
The feed value of swede is so high in fact that one hectare is capable of sustaining a flock of 80+ sheep for up to one hundred days. Swedes, when compared to other similar forage crops such as fodder beet and stubble turnips, produce a far greater amount of metabolisable energy (ME) and with much lower establishment costs per ha. Recent trials have shown that continual development of newer varieties such as Growie and Lomond have allowed swede to go further still and these new varieties are now offering up to 18% more dry matter yield than other well know older varieties.
Swede establishment its famously low cost with the average establishment cost of one hectare of swede being in the region of £400. Swedes will also grow well in most soil types and can be sown once soil temperatures are up in the spring and can be grazed from from early autumn (September onwards).
A well managed spring sown crop of swedes can be grazed from early autumn until the spring of the following year offering a full winter ration for that seasons lambs. Swedes, being very frost tolerant, will survive even the harshest of winters giving a high energy and, perhaps more importantly, a dependable forage option.