Maximising production from your pasture is a fine balance between yield and utilization. It is essential to plan your grazing to get the best returns from grass.
To plan grazing you have to understand how grass grows, how to measure growth and the livestock demands; available in the Assessing Swards section (LINK). Once you have that information there are three steps to building a grazing plan:
- Calculate grass available for grazing = (pre-graze measurement – post-graze target) X field size (in ha)
- Livestock allocation – based on dry matter allocation as a % of bodyweight (suckler cows = 2.5%, ewes with lambs = 3%)
- Calculating how long the field will last = grass available for grazing ÷ daily requirement of group
More information can be found here.
Research at Rothamsted’s North Wyke site found ruminant livestock eat sporadically in the morning, preferring legumes to grasses. In the evenings they will fill up on grass in order to cud in the dark overnight. Grass dry matter is often better in the evenings, so aim to move livestock onto fresh grass late in the day to ensure good intakes of high quality feed.