Grass growth of late has been booming and for farms who have had a challenging couple of months, the recent upturn in growth is most welcome.
However, on the other hand, grass growing out of control can also bring with it some problems.
Keeping quality grass in front of livestock can be difficult especially if growth rates surge, as quality will suffer unless action is taken.
To keep on top of growth on your farm, it is important to regularly walk the farm. Knowing what grass you have will help you to make better decisions and allow you to target fields that should be grazed next, or ones that could be taken out of the rotation in the form of silage bales.
The target at this stage of the season on beef and sheep farms is to be 12-14 days ahead.
Maintaining grass quality
As said already, maintaining grass quality this time of year can be difficult when good growth rates are being seen.
It is recommended to try to maintain pre-grazing swards of between 1,300kg DM/ha and 1,600kg DM/ha.
Achieving good cleanouts by going into covers heavier than this will be difficult, and farms that plan on doing so will end up seeing poor grass utilisation and face having to go in and top it after.
To improve grass utilisation, particularly in larger fields, a temporary fence would be helpful.
Farmers should be looking to achieve good tight graze outs, with a post-grazing sward height of 4-5cm being the aim.
With weaning taking place on some sheep farms, moving ewes onto swards that need to be cleaned up would be an option – if you are unhappy with graze outs.
After weaning, ewes can afford to be moved onto lower covers of grass for a period – so make use of them to get swards grazed out properly.
Another option if grass has gone too strong is to take it out as surplus bales – as previously mentioned. This will allow you to skip fields with heavy covers, where there is a good bit of stem and keep stock moving into more suitable covers.