Tight stocking good for grass

1 May 1998

Tight stocking good for grass

STOCKING rates for beef cattle and sheep must be kept tight to avoid a fall in grass quality for the rest of the season.

Much of the grass being grazed by sheep is too long, says ADAS livestock consultant Elwyn Rees, who has seen sheep grazing swards of 12-14cm (4.8-5.6in).

"The ideal grazing height is 5cm. Sheep grazing long pastures will get foot-rot when the temperature rises."

When sheep cannot control the grass and there are no cattle to clean the rough grass left behind them, grass quality could fall and lamb performance will suffer.

Confine sheep in a smaller area and cut excess pasture, advises Dr Rees.

But even though grass supply is plentiful, ewes with twins and triplets may still need some concentrate to supply magnesium. Grass staggers risks are high because grass has grown rapidly, absorbing little magnesium from soil, and because ewes are under stress from wet weather, he adds.

Many beef animals are still inside and should be turned out when ground conditions allow to cut feed costs, he says.

"Plenty of grass is available, so be ready to cut more of it. The amount available could support 1000-1200kg/acre of cattle live weight." Aim to maintain grass height at 7-8cm (2.8-3in).

&#8226 For advice on dairy cattle grazing turn to p42. &#42

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