Crop Corner: Chicory

A high-value leafy herb!

Crop corner is here to help you identify what is in your pasture and how it benefits your grazing animals.

Chicory is a leafy herb commonly used in dairy cow and sheep grazing systems. Chicory is a very popular summer feed as it survives well in warm and dry conditions due to its deep tap root. The plant offers high yields of feed from spring through to autumn but has limited growth and becomes almost dormant over cooler months. The plant grows quite easily and is adapted to a wide variety of climates and will tolerate shading. It is highly palatable and readily grazed, so it not often considered a weed.

On sheep stations chicory is often grown as a special purpose crop on its own. On dairy farms however, the crop is often used in a mixed pasture with grasses and other crops. Because of the plant’s high digestibility and low fibre content, it isn’t suitable as a sole diet for cattle.

Chicory has broad, vibrant green leaves with veins which run the width of the sward (the leaves are a very similar shape to plantain, discussed in our last newsletter, but with their veins running in the opposite direction). Chicory has a good balance of energy and minerals, allowing animals to easily put on weight and body condition, but it does not make good hay.