Now that we are settling into winter and the routines of winter housing, it is a good time to think back over the spring and summer seasons. What went right and what was not so good? Why did the aspects you are not so happy with occur, and what, if anything, can you do about it? The days may seem short and dreary at this stage of the year, but it will not be too long before spring commences again.
Were your pastures growing enough grass and was the quality good enough? To answer this, you need to know what you grew and have a measure of the quality. Those farmers who measure (even if it is informally done) have tended to achieve better value from their grazing all season. By having knowledge in advance, they were able to challenge their animals to perform off the grass better or they may have conserved better quality silage to feed in winter. If you do not know how to measure and record grass production, maybe the longer winter evenings are a good time to start educating yourselves on how to approach this topic.
Well grown grass that is grazed at the correct stage of growth can support over M + 20 litres of production, or achieve live weight gains of up to 1.3 kg gain per day. What is more, if grass is actively grazed and managed correctly, swards can produce high quality forage all season. AHDB records show that during the 2017 grazing season, energy levels of approaching 11.5 – 12.0 ME and CP levels of over 20% were maintained from March to early November. This is the equivalent of, or better than, some bought in feeds, yet it is available in the field! Quality grass can prove to be a considerable saving in terms of feed input and many farmers have saved over 2 kg cake per cow per day by improving their grazing quality and improving the growth potential. Grassland management is an area that can be easily manipulated and improved by taking a positive management approach. It is also one of the cheaper aspects one can work on. The difference between average and higher performance is more of an “attitude to management” than a major cost increase. Most grassland farmers spend a similar amount on their grassland, and yet some people achieve considerably better results. Why is this? Can you make yourself “knowledge ready” for the next grazing season starting February 2018?!
For more information on grassland management, please contact your local FCG office or Ian Browne at firstname.lastname@example.org