3 May 1996

Grazed grass role in reducing costs

GRAZED grass has a major role in reducing costs in autumn as well as spring calving herds, according to Dr Sinclair Mayne.

Grazing in November for three hours a day reduced silage intakes by 38%, increased milk yields by 2.1 litres/day and increased milk protein contents. "The net effect is an improvement in margin over feed costs of 1.7ppl for every day we keep our cows out on the grass," he said.

As with autumn grazing, early turnout to grass in spring reduced silage needs and increased milk yields. "Turnout on Feb 26 compared with April 16 increased margin over feed costs by 2.6p/litre," he said.

Early spring growth was also influenced by grass variety and timing of nitrogen in spring.

"We have misused the whole question of early varieties and not really pushed them hard enough to deliver early spring grass," he said. For example, the early perennial ryegrass Moy had produced almost four times as much grass by April 14 compared with the late variety Carrick.