Grazed grass is the cheapest feed available to Irish farmers and is key to achieving high levels of performance in terms of liveweight gain and milk solids production.
Maintaining a supply of high-quality grass on the farm can be achieved by walking the farm weekly and measuring the amount of grass on the farm.
Grass measuring brings numerous benefits, including: maximising pasture growth rates; extending the grazing season; maintaining and improving pasture growth rates; increasing the proportion of grazed grass in the diet; and reducing costs – just to name a few.
As the saying goes, ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’, so measuring grass allows the farmer to make more informed and effective grassland management decisions on the farm.
In last week’s episode of FarmLand, Walsh Fellow, Seán McMahon showed us just how easy it is to adopt this practice on your farm, while also noting the equipment needed to do so.
There are many methods out there used to measure grass – one option is the cut and weight method. Using this method, the farmer places a quadrant down onto a representative sample of grass in the paddock.
The grass should be cut down to 4cm using a shears. From here, the cut grass should be weighed, before using a simple calculation to find out what the cover of the paddock is.
Another popular method of measuring grass outlined by Seán is using a plate meter. With this method, the farmer will take a number of ‘drops’ or measurements throughout the paddock – sometimes in a W or an X pattern.
The farmer will then take the post-grazing height – or residual – from the average height of grass in the paddock; this figure should then be multiplied by 250kg of dry matter (DM), as there is 250kg of DM in 1cm.