28 November 1997

Check grass now

WITH most stock now in day and night, producers should check that grass to be carried over winter was grazed well in the last rotation and is of good quality.

New Zealand grazing consultant Paul Bird advises aiming for an average whole farm cover of 1700-1800kg DM/ha in late November, with the longest fields at 2500-2600kg DM, and a range of covers to ensure a feed wedge for spring. But he admits that exact figures for how much grass to carry over winter in the UK are difficult to quote because of a lack of UK data.

"When long or poor quality grass still needs grazing, it must be grazed for a short period of one to three hours before removing cows. And dont allow them to walk over the grazed grass again. When its raining and soils are wet, keep cows off for a few days," says Mr Bird.

Grazing long grass for just one hour will not cause poaching damage. Most damage occurs when its actually raining, he adds.

Grazing areas should also be made as square as possible – cows walk up and down corridors of grass – and more than one gateway to each field is needed.

Alternatively, wait for a dry week and put youngstock or dry cows out onto the pasture with too much cover. When this is not possible, graze any long or poorly grazed grass with sheep.