In 2012, Anna and Colin Butcher from Brookton worked with Wheatbelt NRM to trial serradella as a way to fill the feed gap for their livestock. They also established nursery paddocks to supply them with seedlings into the future.
Initially planted in the dry year it was tough going with low crop height making harvesting for hay slow, but they kept persisting.
When we checked in with Anna recently she was happy to share where they were at now. They kept going with the serradella and it has now been planted on all arable acres across the farm.
The Butchers have found that
- With no summer rain, serradella will be dry, but retains a high feed value as dry forage
- If there is useful rain by the end of April there are large quantities of highly nutritious sheep feed
- No need to supplementary feed, unless the break is really late.
Anna has seen higher conception rates in their sheep, faster lamb growth rates and sheep maintain condition without supplementary feeding.
Serradella benefits their cropping system as well by fixing Nitrogen and helps with reducing nematodes.
Anna concedes change was difficult to implement and persistence was key but now growing serradella helps them be more sustainable and profitable.
This Wheatbelt NRM project is supported by funding through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.