Swiss College of Agriculture, Zollikofen

Extending the grazing season with turnips

Extending the grazing period in autumn allows savings of expensive winter feed. Over three years the yield potential of ten turnip varieties and other autumn crops were studied on three sites. With an average of 6.5 t/ha dry matter (DM), the turnips had clearly higher yields than the grass clover ley (SM200; 2.9 t/ha DM) and were also superior to other Brassica sp. like chinese cabbage.In 14 on farm grazing experiments the suitability of turnips for grazing were tested in the region Bern-Solothurn. Grazing losses were 33% on average and the net yield 4.3 t/ha DM.In spite of treading damage no indications of long term impacts on the soil were found. There was no negative influence on animal health, milk quality and taste. Soiling of the cows increased the risk of contamination of the milk with anaerobic spores. Based on the results of the study and a survey with 32 farmers having relevant experience, it is concluded that turnips are a suitable crop to extend the grazing period in autumn.

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