16 May 1997

Stay off silage aftermaths if enough grazing

AVOID grazing silage aftermaths when the grass supply on the grazing area is sufficient.

That is the message of New Zealand dairy consultant Paul Bird, who is running grass discussion groups in southern England. "The biggest issue now is maintaining grazing pressure so grazing quality is maintained into the summer."

Keep monitoring grass cover, he advises. Modify the area for grazing only when grass cover on the grazing area falls and the stocking rate needs reducing.

"When cover on the grazing area is sufficient do not graze silage aftermaths unnecessarily," he says. Save them for silaging again or substitute them for land in the grazing area, maintaining the stocking rate.

Grass growth rates will be high over the next two or three weeks, so few producers should need to supplement cows with silage, he adds. "Now it has rained expect grass growth to increase to 100kg/ha a day of dry matter. That will support a six-cows-a-hectare stocking rate," says Mr Bird.

Cheshire-based NZ consultant John Simmonds agrees that grass growth could soon accelerate.

"When it warms up grass will grow rapidly," he says. "Do not be tempted to leave higher and higher grass residuals behind the cows. This will lower the quality of grass available for the summer."

His key concern is also sward quality. "It is the major issue on over half the farms I have seen." &#42