Confidence there for silage switch
MORE producers have resisted the temptation to make third cut silage and have transferred this acreage into grazing land to keep cows out longer.
New Zealand BGS adviser Carol Gibson, reviewing the uptake of extended grazing systems after visiting UK farms this year, says confidence is growing among UK dairy farmers about switching emphasis to grazed grass.
"No matter how good silage is it will never be as good as grazed grass, but there is more to this than just turning cows into fields in autumn that you had originally ear-marked for silage.
"Planning has to start much earlier in the season and it is essential to have autumn grass of the right quality."
Some producers who had made the decision to make only two cuts and to use more grazed grass in October had been concerned by the length of grass they were asking cows to graze. "Long grass does not need to be a problem providing cows are not coming across stalky rubbish underneath. That must be avoided by building up pasture quality earlier in the season by grazing grass tightly."
Miss Gibson says paddocks and tracks are only part of the system; a switch to paddocks with good access only provided the framework. Grass management was the key.
"There is definitely loads more autumn grass on farms that have set out to extend their grazing and it is grass they can utilise.
"Those who have made less silage have kept cows out longer and are already well ahead with preparations for spring turnout. They may have made less silage but some reckon they can save £1 a cow a day by turning out earlier." adds Miss Gibson. *