22 December 2000

Making the most of top quality grass

TOP quality grass has a feed value of 15MJ/kg dry matter, and if you do not believe it you wont use it properly, says Clyde Jones, who manages 400 cows in Dorset.

"The cows and your management can prove it, though it may take the researchers a little longer."

Despite rain on most days last April, his spring calvers averaged 29 litres a day at 3.35% protein, on grass plus 1.5kg maize gluten and 0.5kg of minerals. And they gained condition too.

Fertility was good, with 90% submission rate and 68% non-return rate in the first six weeks. But he did admit that part of his success was down to the type of cow – 20 years behind the fashion in genetics. Cows also needed to be well-trained, fresh air freaks eager to get through the parlour and back to grazing.

Other basic tools for good grassland management and use were a good ring main electric fence, plenty of access points to paddocks, wide comfortable tracks, plenty of drinking water, a plate meter and preferably a computer to work out grass growth rates." &#42