Dairy cow grazing© Tim Scrivener

Abundant grazing caused by warmer, late summer temperatures must be managed with disciplined grazing for a cost-saving early turnout next year, farmers were told at the UK Dairy Day.

Farmers need a clear plan for prioritising spring grazing fields and should graze them down to 4cm, equivalent to a cover of 1,500kg DM/ha, said Ben Wixey from Germinal.

The same goes for fields to be added into the spring rotation later, with the exception of farms grazing in November/December, which should leave 7-10cm of cover (about 2,000kg DM/ha) to ensure sufficient turnout cover in spring.

See also: Welsh producer named British Grassland Farmer of the Year

This will ensure optimum covers of 2,800kg DM/ha for a mid-February turnout.

Mr Wixey said: “With warm weather boosting grass growth at the moment, it is particularly important to ensure the final grazing is sufficiently tight.

“This will remove the older grass that will otherwise reduce the quality of spring grazing and can also cause problems in early first cuts.”

However, he warned that British autumns can be variable and offered four ways to manage grass supply if grass growth rates fall sooner than expected. 

  1. Shorten grazing days if temperatures drop
  2. Buffer feed with silage to pad out grazing
  3. Back-fence to minimise sward damage
  4. Use youngstock/sheep to achieve optimum covers