Getting quality back into your swards

Friday 04.06.2021 , News

The last few weeks have been challenging for managing grass. Grass growth has been below average for much of April and May. April’s cold, dry weather was followed by a very wet May, and achieving post grazing residuals was difficult. As a result, many swards are becoming stemmy, particularly as now is also the time they are turning reproductive producing stem and seed heads.

So, given this ‘perfect storm’-type situation, what can be done to improve grass quality from here?

Mid-season grass management has two major goals. Increasing the proportion of grazed grass in the diet and conditioning swards for subsequent rotations. So, establishing exactly what grass you have and how it’s looking is the best place to start.

Do a farm walk to assess how much you have available and work out whether you are in surplus or deficit. Now we are seeing some warmth after the rain, and grass growth has taken off in the last 10 days or so, you may have a surplus. If so, take the stemmy fields out of the current rotation and cut for bale silage. This will allow better quality grass to grow back.

Alternatively, fields with poor clean out can be topped as soon as possible after grazing so as not to hit regrowth coming through. Poor clean out can also be discouraged by reducing the quantity of meal being fed in the parlour.

It’s going to be even more important this year to keep an eye on grass covers, so regular, weekly farm walks are essential. This continuous measurement allows you to react in the best way for your system and make the right management decisions about feed availability as the season progresses.