14 November 1997

Grass growth below average

GRASS growth has reduced to between 10kg and 15kg DM/ha/day in most counties, slightly below average, writes New Zealand consultant Paul Bird, working for the British Grassland Society.

Producers on clay soils that have improved access to their fields are surprised how little damage is being done to ground after only two to three hours of grazing. Cows are then being brought in via farm tracks and fed the remainder of their requirements inside. Grazed areas are only ever walked over once at their first grazing. The second time cows walk over a grazed area severe poaching damage is possible.

When cows are inside by night, ensure they have finished their silage by 12.00 to 2am. This practice ensures active grazing when cows are turned out after the morning milking. Grazing cows do less poaching than a cow that is full of silage at 7am and walks out in the field for some fresh air.

For those of you grass budgeting, grass covers should be about 1800-2100kg DM/ha/day. If grass cover drops below 1700kg DM/ha/day, grazing intakes should be reduced or stopped because you are probably eating into the grass required for early turnout.n