18 September 1998

Grass growth slows

GRASS growth is slowing as soil temperatures decrease.

The aim should be to lift grass cover for another two weeks, building up a grass wedge for grazing in October and November writes BGS grazing consultant Paul Bird.

Stocking rate influences how much grass is required for extended grazing, and how long it will last for. Producers stocked at three cows a hectare (1.2/acre) will use up the grass wedge quickly and can afford to have higher grass covers.

Farms with low stocking rates, 2/ha (0.8/acre), should be careful not to build too much grass as using it may be difficult, particularly on clay soils. Calving pattern also influences grass cover targets, as a dry cow requires a half to one-third of the energy of a milking cow.

A money-saving option being tried by some producers on light soils at low stocking rates, is to build up a high grass cover for grazing in December and January. This method of feeding is particularly suited to spring calving cows, as they will be dry. It also saves silage, labour and slurry disposal costs.

Assume October and November will be wet. Plan to have grass available for grazing only in those areas that can be accessed easily so cows can be grazed for two to three hours at a time and then either shifted on to more grass or brought inside.

lMore on planning for autumn and winter grazing on p41. &#42

Grass growth – prev 7 days

kg DM/ha a day

Pembrokeshire – Richard John 60

Staffordshire – Steven Brandon 52