By Joy Beam
88% Wonderleaf Millet
12% T-Raptor Hybrid Brassica
Diversity has certainly been one of the latest fads in forages: adding more and more species to your cover crop or pasture mix for increased production and soil health. But past a certain point, more is not necessarily better, nor is it always necessary. Amid its counterparts, such as Ray’s Crazy Summer Mix that boasts an impressive seven components, or even Summer Solar with a sturdy four, Summer Feast stands humbly by with only two ingredients: Wonderleaf Millet and T-Raptor Hybrid Brassica. But before you flip past this mix, take another look. The combination of these two species has a lot of strength to offer.
The T-Raptor Hybrid Brassica, a cross between a forage turnip and a forage rape, is a nutrient-rich forage that is packed full of protein and tremendously palatable to livestock. With its short stem and wide leaves, it has a very high leaf-to-stem ratio and therefore very little lignin, making it an extremely digestible forage. Its 16-32% crude protein (depending on N fertilization) and 82-93% soluble protein levels make the T-Raptor what most would consider a concentrate feed. Because of this, it should not be greater than 70-75% of a ruminant diet and needs supplemented with effective fiber to slow the passage rate.
This is where Wonderleaf Millet shines in the mix. Wonderleaf has substantially more effective fiber than the T-Raptor brassica and works well to slow down the rate of digestion to maximize the nutrients the animal can absorb from this mix. It is a high-yielding millet, with 0.6 DM Tons/Acre greater than KingFisher Prime 360 in the 2017 King’s Millet Trial. As with other millets, it will not produce prussic acid, making it safe to graze past frost.
When grazing Summer Feast for the first time – or any mixture with a brassica – be aware that it takes livestock several days to acclimate to the taste of brassicas. The first day or so after they are turned out, they will graze only the millet, but after the adjustment period they will run to new pasture to get first choice of the nutritious forage.
Besides offering a balanced summer grazing option, Summer Feast is also great for building soil health. The T-Raptor has a long tap-root for penetrating soil layers while millet has more of a fibrous root system that helps build soil structure and health. In addition, the different growth habits above ground, including millet’s more upright structure and the T-Raptor’s shorter and wider structure, complement each other well when battling weeds.
If you are considering renovating a pasture or in need of an extremely high-quality summer forage that can be grazed multiple times and produces well in dry conditions, consider using a mix as dynamic as Summer Feast.