6 September 2002

Ensure quality grazing by extending rotation

By Marianne Curtis

EXTENDING rotation length by bringing aftermaths into grazing rotations and buffer feeding should ensure quality grazing well into autumn on many farms.

Clyde Jones is offering cows silage to allow grass cover to build on his Dorset-based unit. "Cover is down to 2300kg DM/ha and growth rates are 50kg DM/ha a day. The aim is to build them up ready for the last grazing rotation which will begin on Oct 1."

Rotation length on Stephen Brandons Staffs-based unit is currently 24 days. "We cut silage a few weeks ago and will begin grazing aftermaths this week which will extend rotation length by 5-6 days."

But, further north, grass growth is surging ahead at 110kg DM/ha/day on Richard Thompsons farm in Cumbria following recent nitrogen applications. "I spread 50 units/acre of ammonium nitrate on grassland two weeks ago and we now have plenty of grass. Cows, which will be dried off soon, are due to calve in November."

Although grass growth rates have remained in line with conventional farms for much of the grazing season, they are now beginning to fall behind on Christian Foxs organic farm in Wilts. "In the early and late grazing season, there is less growth as nitrogen cannot be applied.

"We are moving towards a 35 day rotation to compensate for this and have a lower stocking rate.

"Grass quality is holding up well, but clover has become rather long in some fields which we hoped to silage, but had no window to do so." &#42

Clyde Jones is building grass covers for his final grazing round which will begin on Oct 1.


Cumbria 1 110kg DM/ha

Cumbria 2 50kg DM/ha

Dorset 50kgDM/ha

Pembrokes 75kg DM/ha

Shrops 50kg DM/ha

Staffs 45kg DM/ha

Wilts (organic) 40kg DM/ha