Sulla appears to have everything but a guide as to how to graze it

Staff report

ASHBURTON, New Zealand: Sulla, also know as French Honeysuckle or Italian sainfoin, appears to be a forage that is exactly what non-grain dairymen and grass finishers are looking for.

It is a drought tolerant, non-bloating legume with low fertility requirements, which makes it cheap to grow, but unlike other legumes it is very high in carbohydrate.

Most legumes are high in protein but low in carbohydrates. This limits their effectiveness in producing milkfat or marbling fat.

Sulla has an adequate protein level but a soluble sugar content of 18%, which is twice that found in perennial ryegrass.

The dry matter yield has reached as much as nine tons per acre per year.

This high sugar content makes it excellent for silage.

The tannins in Sulla prevent bloat and internal parasitism.

The forage is succulent with a dry matter content of 14 to 18% and is very low in structural fiber at 20-25% of dry matter. This compares to 45% for perennial ryegrass.

Animal trials have proven the forage can significantly increase milk production, average daily gain and wool growth.

All in all, it appears to be a dream forage.

So whatís the problem? Why isnít this forage plant being established more?

The plant is poorly competitive with other forages and must be established on clean tilled ground.

The plant has a very delicate crown which is the primary source of regrowth and must be rotationally grazed.

It is susceptible to overgrazing and treading damage.

Apparently the plant responds best when a relatively high residual is left after each rotation. This limits its usefulness for machine harvest.

Interestingly, much of the plantís sugar appears to be contained in the plantís stem rather than leaves and the sugar content does not noticeably decline as the plant matures.

Due to its unique quality attributes, New Zealand researchers plan to keep experimenting with the best way to graze Sulla.

© by The Stockman Grass Farmer


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