Choosing the Right Cereal

Autumn is a critical time for dairy farmers to plan and invest in their feedbase.

Many farmers consider a range of autumn sowing options. Winter cereals are becoming increasingly popular with dairy farmers as an option to increase flexibility and water-use efficiency. Depending on the feed demand, farming system and water availability, cereals could be an alternative to help dairy farmers manage risk by diversifying their feedbase.

Winter cereals can provide feed earlier than annual ryegrass (early autumn) because they are generally more adaptable to early sowing due to higher tolerance of dry conditions. Cereals are also better suited to single-cut silage-making, whereas annual ryegrass requires multiple cuts or grazings to be fully utilised.


The 'Fitting winter crops into your grazing system' fact sheet provides a number of useful hints and tips for dairy farmers looking to integrate cereals into their feedbase. These include:

  • Identify where a winter crop fits into the system by knowing the monthly feed demand
  • Winter cereals generally provide more quick, early-autumn feed than ryegrass
  • Cereals are often more suited to areas with low autumn feed than ryegrass
  • Cereals can be a good risk management tool to diversify the feedbase
  • Fitting winter crops into grazing system factsheetPDF794.99 KB
  • Winter cereals ropping TimelinePDF147.48 KB
  • Forage cereals factsheetPDF1.59 MB

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