Last week I hosted a ‘Reseeding Day’ at our farm, organised by The British Grassland Society, DairyCo and EBLEX. The event gave farmers a chance to learn about evaluating the productivity of their pasture following one of the wettest years I can remember and provided tips on reseeding grass and variety selection.
Soil scientist, Chris Duller, dug holes in our fields and gave farmers the chance to see how compaction was preventing roots from reaching deep into the soil for nutrients. He highlighted how much poor pasture management could be costing farmers and asked the question “Can you afford NOT to reseed?” Take a look at how Chris illustrated this question below.
- A good grass ley with 70% ryegrass has the potential to yield 10 tonnes DM per hectare in a year at 12 Megajoules (MJ) of Metabolisable Energy (ME) per kg, thus providing 120,000 MJ ME per hectare per year.
- A poor grass ley with less than 50% ryegrass might only yield 8 tonnes of DM per hectare per year at an average of 10.6 MJ ME per kg, which delivers 85,000 MJ ME per hectare per year.
- The differential in ME production between a good and a poor ley could therefore be 35,000 MJ per hectare per year, which equates to 6,300 litres of milk (worth £1,750 per hectare at a milk price of 28 pence a litre).
- To make up this shortfall in milk from grass Chris estimates that farmers would have to feed an additional 3.1 tonnes of barley, which equates to an additional feed cost of £620 per hectare.
The whole day was brilliantly organised by Louise Davidson form BGS, Piers Badnell from DairyCo and Katie Brian from EBLEX, who together demonstrated that we do have a fantastic network of knowledge about grass and grazing in the UK. It was great to have so many farmers give their appraisal of our fields too and thanks for all the nice comments about our cows!
Free Range Dairy is much more than just nice pictures of cows in fields. We know grass is great for all of us and I think we can still get a lot more out of it, both in terms of it’s value as a feed and a market brand. Join a growing moo-vement of leaders in the field.