GRASS is continuing to grow at rates of 50-80kg DM/ha a day throughout many parts of the UK and at least four cows a hectare are needed to maintain grass quality.
Grazing systems have been challenged because of the wet weather, writes BGS consultant Paul Bird. Poaching damage, low sugar levels in grass due to lack of sun and low dry matters leading to low DM intakes are concerns.
Production dropped by a small amount on many farms, including those not doing much grazing.
Production drop on grazing farms was small for those who took a flexible approach. Those with wet farms reduced grazing time to cut poaching. Where grass intake was a concern higher grass residuals were left help improve intake.
Milk production was maintained despite concerns because grass quality was excellent due to tight management in May and early June. Lax grazing in May produced little milk in June and early July.
Autumn calving herds will be dry or nearly dry. Dry cows should be used to clean out pasture so high quality grass will be available for freshly calved cows in September or October.
Spring calvers are still producing 20-24 litres from grazing alone on some farms. To maintain this for as long as possible maintain grazing pressure so cows lightly graze over dung patches. Bottoming (topping) may be required every four rotations, particularly if high nitrogen levels were used in May and June. *
Grass growth kg DM/ha
from July 13 a day
Steve Brandon Staffs 72
Richard John Pembrokes 66
Christian Fox Sussex 34