Preference for new cocksfoot

Preference for new cocksfoot

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cooksfoot has been under-rated for too long and has much to offer UK farmers, according to Rod Bonshor, general manager for Oliver Seeds.

Its extensive rooting system helps keep an open soil structure and can reach down deep for water in times of drought. It copes with extreme conditions such as cold winters and waterlogged soils, and yields well with less nitrogen fertiliser than perennial ryegrass. The seed is also currently cheaper than ryegrass, says Rod.

“Until now, cocksfoot has always felt hairy and coarse due to the presence of silica in its leaves, and animals would often avoid eating it.” But breeders at DLF Trifolium have managed to ‘remove’ the silica and developed a highly palatable variety which has smooth, silky leaves.

“In grazing preference trials that we ran with cattle and sheep at two UK locations, the new smooth-leaved cocksfoot came second only to one Timothy variety, and well ahead of other cocksfoot and several perennial ryegrasses”, says Rod.

“You can immediately tell the difference by running your hand through comparative plots of cocksfoot, and animals can clearly feel the difference on their tongues.”

By replacing a third of the perennial ryegrass in a grazing mixture with the new cocksfoot, Donata, Rod believes that it will be cost effective and provide a more versatile sward, especially on adverse sites. Establishment time is slower than ryegrass, but it compensates by lasting longer.

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