2021 Forage Barley Trial Results

A recent trial was conducted at Penfield Research Station to evaluate the productivity of three market-leading forage barley varieties – S&W Kraken, S&W Moby, and Dictator 2. Kraken Forage Barley performed very well and this should give farmers confidence to start using this new variety.

Winter forage barley under the microscope

The trial consisted of sowing seeds at a rate of 75 kilograms per hectare on an irrigated six-hectare paddock. Each variety was independently tested for feed quality and digestibility, with Kraken achieving the best results in dry matter production (5 t DM/ha), crude protein (27.4%), and digestibility (87.2%). See the data below for the full range of results across the three varieties.

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Feed test samples were taken prior to the first grazing and indicated that Kraken had good feed quality from the early stages.

Approximately 14 weeks after sowing, cattle were introduced for the first grazing event and were rotated through each variety in turn throughout the trial.

Long-term weight gain in cattle

Early testing indicated that all three varieties had similar results for weight gain per day (approximately 0.9 kg/day). However, after repeat grazing events, both Moby and Dictator 2 measured decreased plant growth rates, which in turn resulted in reduced live weight gain in the cattle each day. In contrast, Kraken continued to recover well from each grazing event, displaying strong regrowth capabilities and therefore maintained its live weight measurements. The total average weight gain for the cattle while grazing on the Kraken was 1.26kg/day, compared with 1.12 kg/day on Dictator 2, and 1.14 kg/day on Moby.

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The average weight gain of cattle over three grazing rotations is a reflection of Kraken’s ability to recover and continue to produce digestible foliage after grazing.

Straw strength and standability, another Kraken feature

Kraken also performed well in regard to the production rates of dry matter. As previously mentioned, Kraken tended to thrive after repeated grazing events, owing to its ability to recover quickly. This is reflected in the dry matter production data, where Kraken produced over 5 tonnes of dry matter per hectare for the duration of the trial. Even in the final grazing rotation, Kraken continued to produce digestible foliage, while the other two varieties had already entered the reproductive stage by that point.

forage barley production

Dry matter production comparison between the three varieties and grazing rotations shows that over the 22-week trial period, Kraken grew very well throughout the grazing rotations.

Later in the season, Kraken displayed improved tiller density and impressive straw strength and standability, making it less prone to lodging.

The results from the trial confirm that Kraken is a premium forage barley seed and is fast cementing its place as an outstanding winter forage option for a wide range of enterprises.

View the Kraken Forage Barley techsheet here.

Interested in S&W Kraken Forage Barley for your enterprise?

Get in contact with your local S&W Seeds territory manager or your preferred reseller to discuss incorporating Kraken into your forage rotations.

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