A pure stand of Hogan ryegrass planted in mid-February for winter forage has responded to the recent good falls of rain in the Tamworth district, shooting back from almost bare earth to a stand of 30cm or higher.
Ben Duddy, Killain Angus, Tamworth, runs about 600 Angus females with his parents Richard and Susie and younger brother Thomas, and proper nutrition is important in their livestock programs.
Mr Duddy said he first learned about Hogan ryegrass from Quirindi-based Killara feedlot's manager, Andrew Talbot, who used it as part of the program there.
He said Killara used the Hogan as a pure stand or mixed with Wizard grazing oats to fill the late autumn and early winter feed gaps.
"The oats get away first, but then when it's grazed down, the Hogan ryegrass comes into its own," he said.
Mr Duddy said the annual ryegrass species also gave Killain better options than planting a sub-tropical pasture as it provided more nutrition than the summer dominant grass species.
"We find the Hogan, an annual ryegrass, gives us feed for nearly 12 months.
"It's December now, and the regrowth after the rain gives us much more than using forage oats than a millet for a summer forage crop. It can handle the heat and the dry."
The Hogan ryegrass was planted with 70 kilograms a hectare of MAP with zinc and 400kg/ha of ammonia sulphate for nitrogen.
When planted in a mix with the Wizard oats, the Hogan was sown at 10kg. The oats went in at 30kg/ha. Planted as a pure stand, the Hogan was sown at 20kg/ha.
Mr Duddy said a large part of the work on Killain with the cattle involved breeding programs and selling bulls. The Hogan ryegrass with a broader feed window plus significant nutrition levels was essential to the feed budget.
Killain's agronomist Sam Gulliford, Pinnacle Agriculture, Gunnedah, said the persistence and heat tolerance had been improved in annual ryegrass over the last 10 years, and they were coming into their own.
"Normally, the heat crucifies ryegrasses. Now, the new types are producing much more dry matter," he said.
Mr Gulliford said an oats/ryegrass mix was also, in his view, a good option.
"This year was looking a bit of a disaster with the dry, but since the rain, the regrowth has been hugely impressive. Normally, ryegrass is more of a high-country climate grass, but I'll be looking to push its use further west next year.
"Hogan ryegrass gives us more nutrition than sub-tropicals and allows us to create good weight gains.
"Don't get me wrong, sub-tropicals have their place in different soil types and rainfalls, but in this region, I'm more inclined to go down the annual temperate pasture pathway.
Mr Gulliford said the ryegrass had either been dry sown just before a prediction of good rain in mid-February.
"It was either scratched in or sown at a depth of 2.5 centimetres to almost 4cm (1 inch to 1.5"), " he said.