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Turnips for Winter Forage

One year, we added turnip seed to our winter rye for winter browse. A friend told us several years ago to consider adding some turnip seeds to any cool weather browse that we planted. At that time we had no pastures that we could use for growing some winter browse. Well now we do and we followed their advice in adding the turnip seeds.

Turnip produces high-quality forage  and livestock eat the stems, leaves and roots of turnip plants. Above-ground parts normally contain 20 to 25% crude protein, 65 to 80% in vitro digestible dry matter (IVDDM), about 20% neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and about 23% acid detergent fiber (ADF). The roots contain 10 to 14% crude protein and 80 to 85% IVDDM

We were amazed at how fast the turnips appeared. We mixed rye and turnip seed together. We used  30 lbs per acre of the rye seed and 4 lbs per acre of the turnip seed. We planted our seed around the middle of September and within  7-10 days the turnips were popping up. As a matter of fact, we probably used too much turnip seed per acre as you can see in the pictures. The goats really did not  show any interest in the turnips when it was at the young stage. However, when they matured, they really started eating them. They are moving between the rye, Coastal Bermuda and turnips.

Note from a visitor to our web site.

Hello jack, just finished reading your post on turnips. Very interesting, we have put them in deer food plots here in Ohio for several years. We use a mix of Purple Top Turnip, Forage Kale and Rape, these plants are in the brassica family. Planted in early Aug. these plants will reach about 12 to 18" by first frost. Once they have been frosted the sugar content in the foliage increases make for a super attractant for deer, not to mention the nutrient value they provide. One thing I have found is soil P.H. affects the rate at which the sugar levels increase. The closer to a neutral P.H. the faster the deer will consume the plants after they have been frosted. Lower P.H. results in the plants being consumed after they have been frosted several times. I have turned our Boers into some of these plots later in the winter month and the goats will dig the turnip's from the ground and clean up the plots very well. I plan on adding a fall pasture next year with the deer food plot mix for our Boers, a good cheap way of extending the grazing period. Thanks for the article.

Stacy Claggett

Broken Bow Boers