Forage cereals, within the cereal species of oats, wheat, barley or triticale, have the potential to be an integral part of providing year round feed in a dryland dairy system. They can provide feed to overcome autumn and winter forage shortages, allow the making of whole crop cereal silage, and provide the dual options of grazing and grain production. Cereals are highly suited to dryland farming and can tolerate a wide spectrum of soil conditions. In the vegetative phase they are similar in palatability and nutritive value to ryegrass for livestock.
Forage cereals can be grown in most areas of Victoria where annual rainfall ranges from 300 to over 1,000 mm. The majority of cereal crops are grown in areas where annual rainfall is winter dominant, occurring from April through to November, north and west of the Great Dividing Range. Extended growing seasons in southern Victoria can provide options to grow late-maturing forage cereals, some of which can be sown in late February – early march.