5 June 1998


PRESSURE on profits has increased interest in grazed grass – even feed companies now realise that they must adopt the grazed grass message within their overall marketing strategy.

Given increased interest in this green feed, it is encouraging that this year another New Zealand consultant will be working in the north of the country for the British Grassland Society to demonstrate not, as critics are keen to suggest, New Zealand farming – but how to use grazed grass more effectively (see p14 of this Update).

Producers are, generally, more receptive to what can be achieved (see Farmer Focus pages) despite wet conditions earlier this year. Enthusiasm is driven by the low milk price – but also because producers better appreciate what can be done. Welsh farmers have, for example, defied their critics by grazing cows despite the wettest April this century.

These farmers, and others who were able to turn out early – because they had the access to do so and the right attitude – are reaping the rewards now by having good quality grass for their cows to graze. They have more than recouped small losses in daily yield a cow by grazing in the wet rather than feeding concentrate and silage. Spring calving cows in one Anglesey herd are averaging 30 litres a head a day off high quality grazed grass alone.

This demonstrates that yield a cow is not always the best parameter with which to measure profit. It is clearly time to move away from yield a cow and margins as performance targets. A better measure of business performance is needed to ensure more money stays in the farmers pocket. Afterall, as one consultant said recently, money isnt everything but it comes a close second to oxygen.