Great In Grass

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Cow’s Favourite Menu That Never Fails

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Finding a dish that suits everyone’s diet can be a real pickle. Although there are classics that most people like, more and more people have their own opinion about what constitutes the perfect dish. Likewise, there are also a lot of opinions about the perfect dish in dairy farming. For cows in stable, the nutritionists would recommend an energy-rich diet composed of two third concentrates and one third forage. The farmer would perhaps change the ratio in favor of more forage, since it is home-grown and therefore cheaper. The environmentalist would recommend perennial forages, because perennials in general have deeper root growth and take up residual nitrogen better than annuals. The climate-activist would definitely recommend the forage to be as digestible as possible in order to decrease methane emission. They all have their say to the diet balance, but how is it possible to satisfy everyone?

Let’s look at it from the farmers perspective
His first priority is to earn his living and keep his animals healthy by maintaining a stable year-round supply of balanced feed. Any sudden change in feed composition- or quality – will destabilize rumen equilibrium and penalize milk production. So, to alleviate any seasonal effect on forage, he will stack the different cuts in one silage pile or feed bales of different cuts together. The overall digestibility of his silage will depend on species, varieties, and cutting management. Each cut, and especially the first, should be taken at the right moment. That is exactly when the forage is heading. Too late – digestibility will decrease; too early – stem production will continue throughout subsequent cuts. One way to infer some flexibility here is to grow mixtures of grasses with different heading date or even better add some clovers to the mixture. Recent results from a scientific feeding study (Johansen et al., 2017, J.Dairy Sci.https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13401), demonstrated, that mixing in 50% white clover to a perennial ryegrass that was cut much too late (visible spikelets) organic matter digestibility could be increased from 77% to 80% and milk production from 31 to 35 kg ECM per day. Same effect was seen for red clover, albeit less pronounced.

The “clover-effect”
Scientists call it the ”clover-effect” as several similar studies show the same phenomenon. So, why are grass-clover mixtures not used more extensively throughout Europe? The direct answer is convenience. In order to keep the optimal ratio between clover and grass the farmer has to keep an eye on the crop and by fertilization stimulate grass growth when clover tends to get on top. Many farmers however, incorrectly believe that it requires undue amount of work to keep this balance. With regular estimation of clover/grass ratio, which by the way can be done through a phone app, the rest is simple management by online product guides. Clover-grass mixtures comes with a very important bonus too: They need less fertilizer!
With new legislative constraints in several countries this might become an important incentive to try it out. So go ahead – there is nothing to lose, but a lot to win for you, your cow, your bees, your environment, and your climate – everybody love that dish!
 

Great In Grass

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Barenbrug Grass Seed Is a Major Player at Aberdeen Football Club

Pittodrie, the home of Aberdeen Football Club, is one of the most northerly stadiums in the UK and an inherently difficult place to present a top-class natural grass surface for Scottish Premier League football in the depth of winter.

David Nicholson, grounds team leader at the club trusts Barenbrug grass seed, supplied through Neil Mitchell of Greentech Sportsturf, to stand up to the elements that his challenging location presents. Operating on a 100% natural surface with fibresand rootzone, a dedicated renovation programme is planned with Neil, which features Barenbrug’s top-rated grass seed formulation Elite Sport.

David comments, “Elite Sport delivers all aspects that I look for in a stadium seed blend – fast establishment, superb recovery during the playing season, high disease tolerance and superior aesthetics. It ticks every box and I know it’s set to get even better in the next few years, after visiting Barenbrug’s UK Research site, Cropvale and seeing their new cultivars first-hand.” The new breeding material David refers to here are the #1 and #2-ranked in BSPB/STRI Turfgrass Seed, Barzico and Barbasten.

In addition to Elite Sport, David relies on Barenbrug’s SOS product to see the pitch through the depths of the North-East Scottish winter. SOS features an amenity annual ryegrass cultivar, capable of germination and growth at exceptionally low temperatures. David continues, “SOS is a great product. We try to get some established in the pitch in autumn. This gives the annual the platform it needs to continue to grow throughout the winter months. With limited lighting rig coverage, I see this product as a valuable tool in the armoury. It plays a huge role in maintaining turf cover in the goalmouths, which we overseed throughout the playing season.”

The impressive performance of the products at Pittodrie made them a logical choice for the club’s recent expansion at Cormack Park, a new purpose-built training ground in the Westhill region of the city. Neil and Greentech played a huge role in the site’s development, constructing one SIS Hybrid pitch and two natural fibresand based pitches for 1st team usage. Neil commented, “It’s an incredible facility, but there is no getting away from the fact that it’s a cold, exposed site. We have to think out of the box at times to maximise turf performance. With Barenbrug breeding as the start-point, and an excellent team of groundstaff to collaborate with, it gives me great confidence and satisfaction when the grass plant responds to the plans put into action”.

 

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Webinar: Successful Out-wintering with Good Brassica Management


Successful Out-wintering with Good Brassica Management
Germinal experts Helen Mathieu and William Fleming discuss key factors for successful out-wintering on brassica.
Sharing practical considerations around feeding brassica such as fencing, introducing fibre, stocking rates, animal health and growing costs.

Webinars Q & A
Can you talk more about multi-grazing and what you need to do as most farmers may graze too hard so regrowth won't happen.
Crops of Redstart sown between May and June, can be grazed at around 8 to 10 weeks, lightly down to say 8 or 10 inches, leaving plenty of nodes and potential growing points, remove the stock and the crop will continue growing well into October or later depending on the conditions. Apply a supplementary dose of N after the first grazing - 50 kg/Ha. Some people will split the field into 4 or more blocks and rotate round, by the time you finish the last block, the first block can be regrazed. It is relative to the sowing day though.
Which varieties are best for in calf dairy heifers over winter?
Depending on date available to sow the crop, then either Maris Kestrel, if you can sow before end of June, later than that Swift or Redstart. (If if is late sown and you are trying to graze earlier (ie October) then Redstart).
We sowed Redstart 3rd August in North East, England. When will it reach its maximum DM/ha ? Approx. what will that DM be?
There would be no harm starting to graze that now, but it will keep if you need to, and keep growing until the soil temperature drops to approx 8 degrees. Capable of 4 to 6 tonnes dm, but I suggest you go and measure it.
What is the best seed rate for hybrids?
6.25 kgs per hectare is a standard rate.
What break length between fodder beet crops?
From a soil pest/disease risk there is less harm than a brassica, but it is very hard on soil structure and soil health. You could over-winter on a brassica and then put fodder beet in the next spring - but then the field would ideally go back to a longer term type ley.
Early drilled oilseed rape with clover, Suggesting to graze for growth regulation / disease suppression with sheep. Any differences compared to forage rape to consider? It's a mixture of hybrid rape and some conventional.
The rules for grazing would be the same, I am not sure there is a great deal of crop there to actually benefit the animals greatly.
Will high pH soils sustain shorter brassica rotations?
They would, but it is not without risk, and soil type matters, so heavier wetter soils will be more prone to club root. Once you have clubroot, you have a problem and wont be grow brassicas successfully for many years in that area.
Would you mix stubble turnips, forage rape and kale together?
My preference is not to as there is no need really, but it is possible and people do like that sort of blend, the potential problem is that the shorter lived and faster growing stubble turnip will swamp anything slightly slower growing anyway. The faster growing reach maturity much earlier and are past their best before the kale reaches is potential, if it can establish its self that is.
With the loss of neonic seed treatments is there anything in the pipeline from a seed treatment point of view that would help the establishment of brassicas and the problem with flea beetle?
We are looking at various treatments down at the Germinal Research Station in Wiltshire that may have potential, we don’t have any information at the moment though.
When feeding a rape or hybrid what causes the ears to fall off on fattening lambs and how can this be prevented?
This is called Rape Scald and is the photosensitization (sun burn) caused by high levels of toxins in the plant, effect mostly white faced sheep. It rarely affects all the animals. It is very much related to the growth stage of the crop but also the environmental conditions, soil fertility (particularly N and S) and the weather at the time. Feed fibre, reduce the amount they are eating, or wait until the weather changes and the crop has reached maturity, or feed in late autumn/winter.
What is the best crop for finishing lambs? With or without any concentrate supplementation? And what is a realistic growth rate without concentrates?
Redstart, it can be sown anytime from mid May through to mid/end of August and fed any time from late July up to end of January or even longer. We've typically seen growth rates of over 200gms, it will certainly produce more lwg than late season poor quality pastures.
Flea beetle! What do you recommend we do for it. Finding timing sprays difficult, usually the damage is done and the crop is never the same after.
Spraying for pests is very much about timing, crops need treating as soon as they reach the threshold - sprayed early enough the crop should recover well.
How far apart should the electric fence posts be and how do you secure the end posts that will be moved every day?
There are lots of different ways to fence the crop. Some will use a hard wire between wooden posts, some use a single strand that clips to a wire running round the outside fence. Some will create a block or square by banging in a strong metal spike as the corner or end pole. Distance between stakes will depend on livestock, length of feed face etc.
If the grazing period is very wet, once lambs are fully introduced, would running lambs on and off, on in the morning, off at night to a drier run off area be advisable or is there a danger of them gorging during the day and causing harm to themselves?
You may make more mess by running them in and out as the footfall will concentrate on a narrow areas. If you feed fibre, and they are well fed with brassica, they should be content and will tend to stand and lie on the drier area, just grazed. If they are not eating the straw, or there is more than they need, they will just lay on it.
 

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Barenbrug UK to release NEW AFBI ryegrass varieties for UK agriculture
The AFBI-Barenbrug partnership now has nineteen ryegrass varieties listed on the 2020/2021 Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL), with varieties such as Gracehill (a late heading tetraploid ryegrass) being one of the newest additions.

Today’s farms require grasses that produce consistently high yield and quality at the right time of year. Farmers are now choosing seed mixtures with varieties suited to their farm’s specific requirements. On any farm the fields can vary in soil type, drainage capacity, slope and orientation as well as their use which could be silage-only on outlying fields, intensive paddock grazing or priority fields for late winter/early spring growth. The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) as a leading plant breeder, in collaboration with Barenbrug UK, as a successful commercialisation partner are dedicated to ensure there are a range of grasses to meet these requirements.

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The AFBI-Barenbrug partnership now has nineteen ryegrass varieties listed on the 2020/2021 Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL), with varieties such as Gracehill (a late heading tetraploid ryegrass) being one of the newest additions. Each of the AFBI-bred varieties have been proven to show increased performance and have been bred for use in specific situations as part of high-performing cutting and grazing mixtures.

The extensive range of varieties available have been specifically bred for superior performance under local environmental conditions. Advances in grass breeding research at AFBI mean that new varieties show significant improvements in traits such as yield, digestibility and disease resistance, compared with varieties currently available, which is important in reducing the carbon footprint of the agricultural sector whilst increasing productivity. As well as the rigorous real-world testing of all new varieties and breeding lines at AFBI Loughgall, further evaluations are completed by Barenbrug UK, on sites across the UK and ROI. As the AFBI-Barenbrug partnership continues to deliver, the team continue to use advances in grass breeding science to develop a steady supply of new varieties that can meet the ever changing demands of the future grassland industry in Northern Ireland and beyond.

To maximise the range of varieties on offer and ensure seed availability Barenbrug UK have stepped up the seed production of their leading varieties Glasker, Bannfoot, Gracehill and Galgorm which will be available for spring 2021. All of these varieties have successfully passed rigorous evaluation at testing sites across the UK and confirms the ongoing success of the grass breeding research programme with Barenbrug UK & AFBI Loughgall, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Glasker is an early maturing ryegrass that can produce extra spring forage at that critical time of the year. In contrast the hybrid ryegrass variety Bannfoot can supply extra yielding capacity especially during the silage cutting season. Hybrid ryegrass varieties combine the useful characteristics of their perennial and Italian ryegrass parents and are especially useful in multi-cut silage and haylage production systems.

Gracehill is a late heading tetraploid ryegrass. Such varieties are now increasingly sought after for use on intensively managed grazing platforms. Gracehill heads on the 1st June and has proven to be an excellent all-round performer right across the growing season, producing superb annual yields of highly digestible grass under both grazing and silage management with extremely high metabolizable energy (ME) yields per hectare (+108% and 104% of the mean of all other late tetraploid varieties on the RGCL list).

Another leading variety is Galgorm, an intermediate heading diploid, which was first listed in 2018. It has remained in top position on the list for total yield in both grazing and silage management ever since. No other intermediate diploid variety on the list produces more ME yield per hectare under grazing management (106% of the mean of all intermediate diploid varieties on the list) and is very persistent in grazing swards.

Ultimately grass is the most important crop on farms in Northern Ireland and one of the most efficient ways of sustaining productivity from grass is to breed top performing, resilient varieties that are adapted to local farming requirements and conditions. The ongoing research and development work undertaken by AFBI & Barenbrug UK ensures that a steady supply of new varieties are produced that can meet the ever changing demands of the grassland and livestock industries right across the UK.

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How new grass varieties help farmers, landscapers, and groundsmen beat climate change
Climate change is making drought, especially spring drought, a more frequent event in northern Europe. Our range of drought-tolerant varieties has been tested widely, including at the world-leading RadiMax facility. These are the varieties that will help forage producers and turf managers protect their businesses in a changing world.




Root science helps you minimise the effects of drought
Drought is one of the greatest challenges facing future crop production. Forage producers and turf managers need plants that perform better in a changing world – plants that are more durable and better at acquiring vital nutrients in tough conditions.

Species bred for the climate of northern Europe are not well adapted for drought because drought has, in the past, never been a big issue. But things are changing. Spring droughts are becoming ever more frequent, which means we need grass varieties better suited to drier conditions. At the RadiMax facility we test grass varieties to see which ones are better at dealing with climatic and environmental challenges such as drought.

High-performance roots give end users an advantage
The secret to beating drought lies in the roots of plants. Following many years of research, we can now apply our extensive knowledge of grass root-architecture to the problems forage producers and turf managers face. We can help you future-proof your business by securing your forage production or maintaining the visual appearance of your turf.

PLUS grasses are drought-tolerant
Grasses with a deep root mass are better able to maintain reliable and consistent forage production. Their nutrient uptake is more efficient, they are better at carbon sequestration, and they improve your soil structure.

Our two festulolium types, Ryegrass PLUS and Tall Fescue PLUS, are excellent choices for withstanding drought. Ryegrass PLUS has the same quick root growth as ryegrass, but its root mass grows deeper, which makes it more drought tolerant. Tall fescue PLUS has the same root mass as Tall Fescue, but provides better spring and summer forage quality.

Choose 4turf® for a stronger, more drought-tolerant playing field
Grasses with a fast root growth have a strong foundation. They give you more playing hours, a better visual appearance, and improved carbon sequestration. They also save you money because they need less irrigation. Our 4turf® varieties are good examples. They are proven to be drought-tolerant as a result of their fast root growth and extensive root mass.

Minimise the risk of drought impact
To reduce the risks associated with drought, choose varieties with strong root performance and/or better above-ground drought-coping mechanisms. Better regrowth after a spring drought, for example, reduces the impact on yields or on turf performance. Drought-tolerant varieties are a time-saver too. As the season progresses, you waste far less time finding ways to fix drought-related damage.

By choosing drought-tolerant varieties or mixtures for your local conditions and your risk-management strategy, you are better prepared for a potential drought. Circumstances vary, but every drought-tolerant variety has its own set of natural mechanisms for coping with a lack of water. During a spring drought, for example, water is still available at deeper soil layers. That's when a plant needs its drought-tolerance to come from below: it needs a deep root mass. But when a spring drought extends into summer, those deeper soil layers also dry out. Now the plant needs an above-ground drought-tolerance to maintain its growth.
 

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Looking ahead to 2021: What to do now so you’re ready for the spring

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Winter is a good time to think about how to maximise cow performance from forage in the coming year.
Growing good quality forage is not straightforward but there are plans you can put in place now to benefit your herd’s potential performance from using your forage more effectively. Ben Wixey, National Agricultural Sales Manager, shares his ‘top tips’ on what you could do this winter:

Think beyond volume
Forage is not all about DM tonnage in the clamp. Producing large volumes of stemmy grass gone to seed is nutritionally poor and indigestible. Instead, focusing on the metabolisable energy (ME) a hectare of grassland can produce can release more milk potential. Multi-cut silaging is one way to achieve this change; the level of ME/ha obtained is far higher than traditional systems. The increased cutting encourages rapid regrowth, improves the energy levels of the grass and leads to more consistent silage. What you might pay in higher contractor fees, you can recoup in greater milk potential and financial returns.

We have a 700 strong dairy herd and aim to produce 50-55% of milk from forage, so producing lots of high-quality forage is key to the success and sustainability of the business. We aim to cut grass every four weeks during the silaging season. The silage we are producing has a good nutritional value and is highly digestible.James Evans, dairy farmer, Mid Wales

Reflect on forage performance
Look back at how your forage has performed this year and establish your goals for next year. How much forage did you produce? And of what quality? Did you have any underperforming fields? Talk to your nutritionist about what you need to produce to support your performance goals of your cows. Compare this to your yield data and grass/silage sample results. You may need to carry out further sampling to identify poorer performing grassland and help target remedial work.

Measure forage production
Regular grass measurements with a plate meter provide useful, accurate data, but simply recording the number of trailer-loads you take off silage ground or how many times specific areas of grassland are grazed provides a benchmark. If you don’t measure, you can’t monitor improvements. Fresh grass and silage analyses also give you an idea of the nutritional quality and potential of forages in specific areas.

Check soil health
Soil compaction has a strong influence on performance potential. Vehicle movement from harvesting first cut alone can result in over half of grassland being compacted. Plough pans can prevent grass roots penetrating the soil adequately; cows grazing on wet ground can cause similar problems. Assess compaction by digging a few test holes in your grassland and smell the soil. If soil is too compact and not suitably aerated it smells putrid or like anaerobic silage. Then feel it. A healthy soil crumbles in your hands; it shouldn’t break off in large clumps.

Take the pressure off
Grass grows more grass. To see the best rates of regrowth, aim to move cows on to fresh pasture once grass is grazed down to a maximum of 7cm. To avoid grazing below this point, adjust stocking rates, change the paddock size or alter the rate of rotation. This might need to involve new fencing, gates and water troughs, but longer-term, this will help grass growth and productivity.

Extend your rotation with brassicas
Brassicas are a good option for extending autumn grazing and offering forage stocks through the winter. They provide a cost-effective alternative source of protein to bought-in feed and are a valuable pest suppressor between grass reseeds. Plan to sow brassicas in either late spring or July/early August.

The Redstart had a direct feed benefit and helped maintain the herd’s milk from forage performance, but it also proved to be a useful break crop and improved the soil condition of the old grass ley into which the brassica mix had been drilled.Tom Mansell, dairy farmer, Cheshire

Find the right grass varieties
Select grass mixtures with varieties on the latest Recommended Grass and Clover List (RGCL) and high performers in terms of ME yield/ha. It’s worth looking closely at differences between them and seeking advice if unsure what’s right for you. The energy difference between the highest and lowest-ranked varieties is 18,000 MJ/ha or a possible 3,400 litres of milk per hectare per year.
For silaging, grass varieties should be at their optimum level of quality and maturity when cut, so a small heading date range is best. A range of over around 10 days means some varieties will have put up seed heads, while others are still leafy, impacting the quality and digestibility of the silage. Heading dates are given in the RGCL.

HSG 4 is a very versatile seed mix and complements our approach on the farm well. It provides plenty of high sugar grasses for grazing in the early part of the season and each silage cut we take has a progressively higher protein content, with first cut yielding around 16% protein and final cuts producing silage with a protein content of 19%.Ian Farrant, beef farmer, Worcestershire
Plan to reseed

If your end goal is to maximise the benefits of homegrown forage, reseeding is fundamental. If you don’t reseed, the percentage of perennial grasses declines as native grasses increase, producing poor quality grass, hard for cows to digest.
Routine reseeding requires investment but is one of the best ways to maintain sward performance and nutritional quality. Grassland renewal rates sit around 5-6% in the UK, suggesting many leys are left down past their optimum performance levels.
 

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Grassland Reseeding Guide

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Your field guide from sward assessment to establishment.

PLAN
Aim to renew 10 – 15% of your leys each year
Germinal SWARD FACTS
  • Older leys (8 years +) will usually comprise 50% weed grasses or more
  • Aber High Sugar Grasses are typically 15 D-value units higher than weed grasses
  • Response to nitrogen is 5 times greater in modern ryegrasses than weed grasses
Full reseed or sward renovation?
Whilst short-term productivity can be improved cost effectively through a variety of over-seeding methods, there is no doubt that a full cultivation reseed is the best method of establishing a new ley.
Carry out a full reseed when any of the following are evident:
  • Production falls
  • Inadequate spring or autumn growth
  • Response to N declines
  • Regrowths take longer
  • Stock fail to clean up available grass
  • Sown species make up less than 50% of the sward
  • The cost of controlling weeds, pests and/or diseases is prohibitive
  • Poaching or compaction levels have become unmanageable
  • Rotational policy dictates a change of crop
Choose optimum timing
When to reseed?
England & Wales:
Spring or autumn reseeding can be equally effective, so do whatever best suits your farming system.
  • Sow no later than August when including red clover
  • Sow no later than mid-September when including white clover
Northern England & Scotland:
  • Spring reseeding allows time for swards to establish before winter
  • When summer/autumn reseeding and including red or white clover, sow no later than mid-August
Consider a brassica break crop
In the context of pasture renewal, a break crop offers the following advantages:
  • Disruption of grass-specific pest and disease cycles
  • Elimination of pasture-based animal parasites
  • Enhanced weed control opportunities
  • Extended opportunities to address soil nutrients and/or soil condition
  • Additional 4-8 t DM/ha production from the brassica

Identify priorities for reseeding
Your Pasture Health Check List:
  • Increased presence of docks, thistles, nettles, chickweed or other weeds
  • Unproductive grasses such as bents, meadow grasses, red fescue and Yorkshire fog
  • Drop offs in silage production or stock carrying capacity
  • Slow regrowths after cutting or grazing
  • Reduced response to fertiliser
  • Rejection or uneven grazing
  • Intermittent growth or shortening of growing season
If you have ticked any of the above, your ley is certainly beyond its productive life and in need of replacement.
Make a thorough sward assessment
Targets for sward assessment
  • 75% Ground cover
  • 30% Clover content (average over a season)
  • 50% Sward composition (PRG minimum)
  • 10% Broad leaf weeds (maximum)
Carry out the red stem test
As a general guide, perennial ryegrasses have a red colouration at the base of the stem and a shiny underside of the leaf - weed grasses do not – so carry out a simple field assessment to check your sward composition.

Assess your sward clover content
At the optimum sward content of 30% averaged across the season, white clover contributes 150kgN/ha
15%

25-30%

50%

CHECK
Test your soil pH
Optimum pH for plant growth and uptake of nutrients is 6 – 6.5.
Applying lime at 5 t/ha will raise pH by 0.4 units, but not for 9-12 months.
For a faster response apply a granulated lime product.
Test your P&K levels
Phosphate (P) and Potash (K) indices should ideally be at 2 for optimum sward performance, so apply fertiliser to the seedbed if necessary.
Low P = poor root development, poor use of nutrients
Low K = poor transport and utilisation of nutrients, poor growth
Assess the condition of your soils
Take a spade and dig out a sod to a depth of about 40cm.
Signs of water logging and compaction:
  • Rusty, grey, mottled colouration
  • Distinctive foul smell
  • Poor root penetration (should be 30cm and more)
  • Lack of earthworms (should be 10-15 in a spade-full)
  • No vertical cracks (5mm channels allow air, water and nutrients to circulate)

Rectify any soil structure problems
Match the solution to the problem:
Surface capping (0-10cm) - use a soil aerator with spikes or knives (e.g. below)
Compaction (10-15cm) - sub-soiler or sward lifter
Plough pans - sub-soiler or mole plough

Assess weed populations
Identify any major problems and control them in the old sward as this will make establishment of the new ley better and easier to manage.

ESTABLISH
Select grass mixtures containing varieties that are ranked on the Recommended Grass and Clover List.
  • Select top performing varieties; there is significant variation in performance even amongst RGCL listed varieties
  • Look for the ideal combination of yield (dry matter) and quality (D-value)
  • Consider other agronomic factors such as seasonal growth, ground cover and disease resistance
  • Ensure mixtures are fit for purpose, whether for cutting, grazing or dual purpose
Give your seed the best chance of germination:
  • Work the ground to a fine tilth
  • Sow when soil is moist and warm (minimum 5°C)
  • Use the correct seed rate (15kg/acre; 35kg/ha) to establish a dense sward
  • Optimum seed depth is 15mm (½ inch)
  • Roll before and after drilling for optimum consolidation - you should be able to walk on the field and leave no footmarks
Overseeding
Overseeding, or sward rejuvenation, can be a good way to improve the yield and quality of grassland whilst minimising any time out of production.
When should overseeding be used?
  • If leys still have a good proportion (50%) of perennial ryegrass present.
  • For a short-term boost in production.
  • Where land is steep or stony and difficult to reseed.
  • As a tactic alongside a full reseeding programme.
How to overseed effectively:
  • Ideally in the July – September period, following a tight grazing or silage cut.
  • Seed rate of 10kg/acre (two-thirds of a full reseed).
  • Ensure good soil-to-seed contact, through harrowing and rolling, as required.
Return on investment
  • Estimated 10% increase in dry matter production
  • Increased D-value worth 0.5MJ/kg ME
  • Return on investment within the year of overseeding

MANAGE
Protect new leys by monitoring weeds, pests and diseases:
Newly sown pastures are more susceptible to weed ingress, pests and diseases than well-established grassland.
  • Identify weeds and control early by spraying or grazing
  • Monitor new leys for pest attack, with wireworm, frit fly, slugs, leatherjackets and chafers the most common threats
Graze to aid establishment:
Graze new leys lightly with sheep or young stock when grass reaches 7.5 – 10cm to consolidate roots and promote tillering.
 

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The Nutritional Value of Grass Guide

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Capturing the full power of grass
Understanding the full value of grass is key to maximum utilisation.

As grazing or silage, grass is the foundation for most forage-based systems. It is the cheapest source of ruminant feed and the most important factor in modern dairy, beef and sheep farming profitability. Livestock farmers however need to take full advantage of grass by maintaining sward quality and productivity. They need to manage intakes through effective grazing and winter-feeding plans. It is also important to have a good understanding of the nutritional qualities of grass. If you don’t know the full feed value of grass, there is a chance it will either be under-utilised or inaccurately supplemented – its potential will then be lost.
In this guide, we provide simple definitions and highlight the importance of different components and offer pointers on how to attain the best results. Grass is also commonly grown with white and red clover, so we provide references where applicable to the contribution of these legumes.

Dry Matter
Why is dry matter important in grass?

The dry matter (DM) content of forage (measured as a percentage) is the proportion of total components (fibres, proteins, ash, water soluble carbohydrates, lipids, etc) remaining after water has been removed.

Knowing the dry matter percentage of forage is important. The lower the dry matter content, the higher the freshweight of forage required to achieve a target nutrient intake, whether this is grazed grass or conserved forage.

Dry matter is also used as a term to measure yield. Recorded as kgDM/ha, this is used as a measure of sward carrying capacity (stocking rate) and is an essential element of effective grazing management. It is also used to measure silage crop yields.

In terms of dry matter content, field and weather conditions will cause significant variation, and there are also inherent differences between diploid and tetraploid varieties. All other factors being equal, diploids have higher dry matter content (typically 18-26% DM) than tetraploids (15 – 20% DM), due to diploids having smaller cells and a lower cell wall to cell contents ratio. This means ruminants fed entirely on a tetraploid sward will need to consume as much as one-third more fresh grass per day to achieve the same nutritional intake as from a purely diploid sward.

Looking at dry matter yield, modern ryegrasses have been bred for maximum production. The best rated perennial ryegrass varieties on the Recommended List are now capable of grazing or conservation yields in excess of 11 tDM/ha whilst weed grasses (e.g. creeping bent or annual meadow grass) can yield as little as 2 tDM/ha. Production from ryegrasses over a season follows the classic growth curve, peaking at around 120kgDM/ha/day in May/June and typically dipping to around one-third of peak levels by early autumn.

In grazing terms, the aim should be to present grazing that offers the ideal balance of fresh nutritious growth with the appropriate fibre content for optimal rumen passage. This balance is best achieved by using a grazing rotation of 18-25 days in peak season. Poor sward management will increase the proportion of dead and dying plant material, resulting in a significant decline in forage quality and intake potential.

When making silage, the aim should be to cut at 16-20% dry matter and ensile at 30 – 35% dry matter (for clamp silage) and 35 – 40% (baled). This will ensure a good fermentation and optimum intakes, and minimum risk of aerobic instability.

Fresh grass requirements at different dry matters

Pointers on dry matter
  • Factor in grazing and/or cutting DM yield when selecting the best varieties from the Recommended List
  • Diploids generally aid grazing efficiency whilst tetraploids are typically more suited to cutting
  • Consider pre-cutting grazing swards as a means of increasing dry matter intakes
  • Remember that livestock on wet pasture will require more fresh weight of forage per day
  • Delaying cutting for silage increases yield but decreases quality
The clover effect
  • Overall dry matter yield from a mixed grazing sward with optimum white clover content is broadly compatible with a straight ryegrass sward, assuming average UK nitrogen
  • fertiliser applications
  • When red clover is included in silage leys, only use light conditioning on the mower (e.g. rubber roller or flails fully open)
  • Red clover content will be higher in later cuts, so a longer wilt is required to achieve comparable dry matter content in the silage
D-Value and ME
Why are the D-value and ME of grass important?

D-value is the measure of digestibility, or the proportion of the forage that can be digested by a ruminant. This digestible part of the forage
is made up of crude protein, carbohydrates (including digestible fibres and sugars) and lipids (oils).

ME is the amount of energy that an animal can derive from the feed. It is measured in megajoules of energy per kilogram of forage dry matter (MJ/ kg DM). ME is directly correlated with D-value because any feed has to be digestible in order for the energy to be available.

One percentage point of D-value equates to 0.16 MJ/kg DM of ME. A proportion of ME is available as an energy source for rumen microbes. This is referred to as fermentable ME (FME) and is largely comprised of plant cell walls. D-value (and ME) is highest in the top ranking ryegrasses on the Recommended List, with figures for Grazing D-value and First Cut D-value available on all listed varieties. Leading varieties will be in the 75 – 80 D-value range, up to five percentage points higher than average varieties on the list and higher still than non-listed varieties. Weed grasses will be substantially lower in D-value than modern ryegrasses.

In all cases, D-value is highest in grass when the sward has fresh leafy growth and declines as the plants become more mature (stemmy).
The decline in D-value is highest after ear emergence (heading). Grass cut for silage will typically lose 2 percentage points in D-value between cutting and feeding.

The higher the D-value and ME in forage, the better ruminant performance will be. In the UK, NIAB estimates that a single point increase in D-value (or 0.16 MJ/kg ME) equates to 0.26 litres of milk per dairy cow per day, 40g/day extra beef liveweight gain and 20g/day of extra lamb liveweight gain. Similar work at Teagasc in Ireland and DARDNI put the increase in milk yield higher at 0.33 and 0.4 litres per cow per day respectively

Variation in D-value and ME between grass species

Pointers on D-value and ME
  • Select the highest ranking varieties on the Recommended List
  • Use a rotational (18 – 25 day) paddock grazing system with entry determined by the ‘Three Leaf System’
  • Consider soil nutrient availability and when applying fertilizer always apply in line with Fertiliser Manual RB209
  • Cut for silage prior to stem thickening, or approximately one week before heading
  • Manage to minimise diseases that will reduce D-value (e.g. crown rust, leaf spot)
  • When necessary, stop grazing swards to prevent heading
The clover effect
  • White and red clovers typically have D-values comparable to the highest ranking ryegrass varieties, with a greater proportion of the digestible material being in the form of crude protein (ie. less carbohydrate)
  • The optimum white clover content in a grazing sward is an average of 30% over a grazing season
  • When including red clover in a silage ley, it is important to use compatible ryegrass varieties to achieve the best overall
    D-value at cutting. As with ryegrass, D-value of red clover declines rapidly with increased crop maturity, with the target being to cut when no more than half the plants are in bud
Water Soluble Carbohydrate
Why is water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) important in grass?


Water soluble carbohydrates are the soluble sugars that are quickly released from grass within the rumen. These sugars provide a readily available source of energy for the rumen microbes that are responsible for digesting forage.

These sugars also provide the fuel for silage fermentation. The higher the sugar, the better the silage is preserved and the higher the feed value for the animal.

Higher WSC is a major differentiating factor in modern ryegrasses bred at IBERS Aberystwyth University over 30 years. Varieties higher in WSC than conventional varieties are now available as Aber High Sugar Grass. The Aber HSG range now includes intermediate and late heading diploid and tetraploid perennial ryegrasses and hybrid ryegrasses.

Relative differences in WSC are maintained between ryegrass varieties even though the content typically rises and falls over a season, with varying weather conditions and even over the period of a day. On a warm sunny summer day, WSC content can be as high as 35% of dry matter, whilst on a cool cloudy autumn day it can be as low as 10%, but at either end of the spectrum differences between varieties are maintained.

A high WSC will generally mean forage composition is closer to the 2:1 WSC-to-crude protein ratio that animal models suggest is the target for optimum nitrogen use efficiency in the rumen. This means that more of the feed is converted into milk and meat, with less going to waste in urine (and methane). Under ideal growing conditions, modern Aber HSG ryegrasses will achieve the optimum ratio of 2:1 for WSC-to-protein. Wetter silage ultimately uses up more sugar to achieve a stable fermentation, leaving less for the animal.

Average WSC over five years


Effect of DM at ensiling on WSC content of silage as a result of fermentation:


Wetter silage ultimately uses up more sugar to achieve a stable fermentation, leaving less for the animal.
Pointers on WSC
  • Select and sow grass and silage mixtures that are 100% Aber HSG to maximise WSC
  • Avoid over-use of fertiliser by following RB209 guidelines
  • Cut for silage late in the afternoon to maximise the WSC content
  • Avoid making overly wet silage (below 28% DM) as this may result in sugar losses in the effluent and increases the effluent; wet silage also has increased need for sugars to create a good fermentation and stable silage
  • WSC generally peaks 3 – 5 weeks after grazing or cutting
  • Manage swards to avoid diseases that will reduce WSC (e.g. crown rust, leaf spot)

The clover effect
  • White clover is generally lower in WSC and higher in protein, so it important to maintain the target of 30% white clover sward content over a grazing season for optimum performance
  • Red clover is generally lower in WSC than ryegrass, so growing it in combination with Aber HSG varieties is beneficial for the silage fermentation process
  • Aim for a minimum dry matter of 30% when ensiling red clover and ryegrass to increase the concentration of WSC in the forage
Protein
Why is protein important in grass?

Protein is a large and expensive component of livestock rations, and reliance on imported sources (e.g. soya) leaves businesses vulnerable to price volatility and supply. Greater use of homegrown protein is therefore desirable.

Protein in grass is generally reported as total crude protein (CP), which is 6.25 times the nitrogen content. Typically around 80% of the crude protein in fresh grass is true protein. The remaining fraction is often referred to as non-protein nitrogen. Both types of nitrogen can be used by the animal but the true protein is used more efficiently for meat and milk production. A larger part of the non-protein nitrogen is used inefficiently and is excreted by the animal.

Crude protein can be split into effective rumen degradable protein (ERDP) and digestible undegradable protein (DUP). ERDP, which is by far the biggest part of fresh forage protein, can be broken down by rumen microbes and converted into microbial protein that is digested later. DUP passes through the rumen intact and can be broken down and digested in the small intestine.

Crude protein content can vary within single varieties and between varieties and is influenced by management factors such as nitrogen fertiliser applications and crop maturity.

The proportion of the crude protein that is available as true protein is lowest in the period after nitrogen fertiliser is applied, but rises as the grass grows and converts non-protein nitrogen into true protein.

In silage, the proportion of crude protein that is available as true protein is affected by the fermentation. A better fermentation results in more of the crude protein remaining as true protein.
Protein in grass and silage

Grazed grass provides the best source of true protein. Good ensiling practice will preserve more of the true protein in silage.
Typical nutrient content of farm feeds

Animal research has shown that typically only about 20% of protein consumed by ruminants is used (to maintain the animal and produce meat or milk); the rest is lost in waste products. A better balance of protein and energy supply to the rumen will improve the proportion of protein that is used. Feeding forage (as grazed grass or silage) with a higher sugar (WSC) content has been shown to improve protein utilisation in ruminants.

Given the optimum balance of protein and energy sources, dietary crude protein concentrations can routinely be as low as 12 – 14% of dry matter without any detriment to livestock productivity (14% for milk production).
Pointers on protein
  • Aber HSG varieties are bred for improved protein-to-energy balance
  • Apply fertiliser in line with the Fertiliser Manual RB209, and 2 – 3 days after grazing or cutting
  • Avoid making overly wet silage (below 28% DM) as this may result in soluble protein losses in the effluent
  • Optimum protein concentrations occur 3 – 5 days after cutting or grazing
The clover effect
  • White clover is generally higher in protein than ryegrass; it is important to maintain an optimum balance in grazing swards of an average 30% of dry matter over the season
  • Red clover is a high protein forage (typically 22% crude protein). It contains an enzyme (PPO) that in silage helps to maintain the proportion of true protein
Fibre
Why is fibre important in grass?

Fibre is essential in the ruminant ration to provide the ‘scratch factor’ essential to stimulate rumen function. There is an important balance to be achieved in all rations for optimum performance.

Fibre is measured as NDF (neutral detergent fibre), this being the insoluble fibre fraction (cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and lignin) that remains after boiling in a neutral detergent solution.

Carbohydrates within NDF are not as readily accessible as those in the WSC component of ryegrasses. However, NDF content is important for predicting ruminant voluntary intake.

The proportion of NDF that can be digested by ruminants is referred to as dNDF. This is a secondary source of slowly released carbohydrates that provides a useful source of fermentable energy for ruminants within the rumen and hind gut.

Grass fibre concentration can vary greatly during the growing season. It is at its highest (and the grass least digestible) when the sward is producing reproductive seed heads rather than vegetative leaves. Conversely, during the early spring when fresh growth is at its peak, fibre content is typically at its lowest (grass is most digestible).

The principle target with fibre is to maximise animal voluntary intake whilst ensuring sufficient rumen digestion time. For grazing, the optimum NDF content of grass should be in the range of 30 – 40% of total dry matter, with dNDF around 20-30% of total dry matter, or roughly 60-75% of the total fibre content in a digestible form.

When grass fibre content falls below these optimum levels (e.g. early spring flush) supplementary feeding of fibre may be necessary to prevent grass passing through the rumen too rapidly.

When making silage, it is important to cut before grass becomes too mature (pre-heading) to avoid a significant reduction in digestibility.
Grass fibre and dry matter intake

Pointers on NDF and dNDF
  • Rotational grazing (18 – 25 day) using the Three Leaf System to determine when to graze will optimise both NDF and dNDF levels in grass
  • Topping will remove stemmy growth and stimulate fresh growth (and avoid NDF being too high) but good grazing management should ideally avoid the need for topping
  • Take silage cuts before grass goes to head to avoid NDF rising too high
  • Manage grazing and cutting swards to avoid diseases (e.g. crown rust, leaf spot) that will increase NDF at the expense of overall quality
The clover effect
  • The clover concentration of white and red clover is lower than that of ryegrass and can have the potential to increase voluntary intake
  • The physical form of fibre in clovers typically breaks down in the rumen more quickly than the fibre in ryegrass
Lipids
Why are lipids important in grass?

Lipids in forage grasses contain a high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). These are the ‘good’ fatty acids, better known as Omega 3 and Omega 9, which have positive human health effects.

From an animal production perspective, increased PUFA supply has been shown to improve animal fertility and result in positive effects on meat quality (longer shelf life and a more desirable colour). There is also evidence of reduced methane emissions from ruminants consuming high PUFA diets, an effect that is positive for the environment.

Early data suggests total fatty acid content of grass varies from about 2.5 to 5% of forage dry matter, with the PUFA component making up 65 – 78% of the total lipid content. Grass fed livestock will naturally consume more polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 9) which is believed to improve the colour of aged meat and potentially extend shelf life.

Lipids have approximately twice the energy content of carbohydrates (WSC and fibre) and are an important source of energy for livestock.
Ruminant diets are frequently supplemented with high lipid feeds as a means of increasing the energy content of the diet.

Current and future grass breeding programmes at IBERS Aberystwyth University have identified lipid concentration and fatty acid profile as important objectives.

Pointers on lipids
  • Fresh grass provides a better PUFA profile than many dry feeds
  • Forage-based systems have the potential to produce better quality human food due to the favourable PUFA profile in grass
  • When silage making, rapid wilting will increase the level of lipids retained in the forage
The clover effect
  • White clover lipid content is generally reported to be slightly lower than that of ryegrass, with a range of 2 – 4.4% of forage dry matter
  • Red clover is generally reported to be higher in polyunsaturated fats than ryegrass
Minerals and Vitamins
Why are minerals and vitamins important in grass?


Minerals include various elements like calcium, selenium and iron. These basic elements, like the more complex vitamins, have important roles in the health and performance of livestock. Understanding the mineral and vitamin content of grass is important in the context of any additional supplementation that may or may not be required.

The mineral content of a sward will depend largely upon the mineral availability in the soil and the pH. Mineral and vitamin content will not usually change in silage, though in very wet crops some losses may occur in the effluent.

Whilst many vitamins are synthesised by rumen microbes, some lipid soluble vitamins must be obtained from feed (vitamins A, D and E) and all vitamins provided by feeds can be a useful addition to the ruminant’s diet.

Accurately managing a sward for minerals and vitamins content will require soil analysis for each paddock. Where any mineral is found to be deficient, provision of supplemental licks or mineral boluses can overcome most deficiencies. When turning stock into lush pastures of rapidly growing grass, particularly in the spring, it is advisable to monitor them to further reduce the risk of staggers. Supplement rations with minerals in line with silage analysis.

Nutrient availability chart


Pointers on minerals and vitamins
  • Test soils to determine any mineral deficiencies
  • Provide licks or mineral boluses to overcome deficiencies detected
  • Avoid making overly wet silage (below 28% DM) as this may result in mineral losses in the effluent
  • Inclusion of Puna II perennial chicory in a sward increases forage mineral supply and profile
  • Always be vigilant about the risk of grass staggers when stock are grazing fresh spring grass
  • Check phosphorous status of soil before reseeding with clovers
The clover effect
  • White clover is typically richer in calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, cobalt, molybdenum, boron and selenium than ryegrass.
  • Red clover is typically richer in copper and cobalt than ryegrass.
 

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The science behind Aber High Sugar Grass

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Cattle and sheep are inefficient at converting grass protein into milk and meat. When grazing conventional grass, livestock use only about 20% of protein from the herbage for production – most of the rest is wasted in urine. This is not only a waste of money, but it is detrimental to the environment.

A major reason for these losses is the imbalance between readily available energy and protein within the grass. Proteins are rapidly broken down when feed enters the rumen but, when the diet lacks readily available energy, rumen microbes are able to use less of the nitrogen released from the feed. This results in a large proportion of the nitrogen being absorbed as ammonia and eventually excreted. Grass cell walls consist of complex carbohydrates called cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.

Although these components can be broken down to provide energy, this is a relatively slow process and is often out of balance with the breakdown of protein.

Water soluble carbohydrates in grass are the sugars found inside the plant cells, rather than in the cell walls themselves. Unlike the carbohydrate in the cells walls, these sugars are a source of readily available energy soon after forage enters the rumen, fuelling the rumen microbes to process more of the grass protein. This protein can then be used in the production of milk and meat, rather than being excreted.
This is why livestock perform better off forage with higher sugar levels. Research at IBERS Aberystwyth University has shown that Aber HSG varieties have consistently higher levels of sugars than standard varieties, throughout any grass growing season. WSC levels up to 50% higher than controls have been recorded in some Aber HSG varieties. Results from trials are summarised later in this section.

The development of Aber High Sugar Grasses
Extensive research over 30 years has shown how high water soluble carbohydrate content in Aber High Sugar Grass varieties improves performance and profitability in milk, beef and lamb production.

Early research included:
  • Grazing trials on commercial dairy and beef farms over two seasons
  • Sheep studies at two research farms over three grazing seasons
More recent research with improved varieties that combine the high WSC trait with good disease resistance and high yields includes:
  • Zero grazing studies to investigate the potential benefits of feeding Aber HSG to dairy and beef cattle on productivity and environmental impact
  • Studies to investigate the digestive mechanisms that allow ruminants to utilise Aber HSG varieties more efficiently than other recommended grass varieties
  • Field-scale grazing studies to investigate animal performance on Aber HSG swards
  • Studies on the reduction of methane emissions from ruminants grazing Aber HSG ryegrasses.
Variety development
Since proof of principle research established the value of a higher WSC content, a breeding programme has been ongoing to develop Aber HSG ryegrasses.

Following the first Recommended Grass and Clover List variety AberDart HSG in 2000, new varieties have continued onto the RGCL, with higher and higher levels of WSC and – as a result – continually improved performance potential.

Ongoing Aber HSG research
Research to improve the quality of grass continues at IBERS Aberystwyth University, with a focus on animal performance and increasing emphasis on the environmental benefits.
In addition to WSC, other quality traits including improvement of the fibre and lipid components of grass, are now included in project objectives.

Enabling ruminants to convert more of the nitrogen in their feed into milk and meat improves production efficiency. It is also very positive for the environment in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (ammonia and nitrous oxide) and urea (in urine). Feeding ryegrasses with higher WSC content leads to improved rumen efficiency (allowing increased protein synthesis) and evidence shows this results in reduced nitrogen losses.

Aber High Sugar Grass varieties are proven performers in terms of dry matter yield, D-value and ME yield, boosting not only production from forage but the environmental credentials for farming too. This has been recognised with a string of prestigious awards, beginning in 2003 when the first Aber High Sugar Grass, AberDart HSG, became the first grass to win the NIAB Variety Cup. In subsequent years, the plant breeders behind this breakthrough technology have collected innovation and technology awards from RASE and the BGS, and with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize and the recent Times Higher Education Award they have received accolades beyond the agricultural industry. In 2015, AberGreen became only the second grass to win the NIAB Variety Cup.


Aber High Sugar Grass for milk production
Results of several studies conducted on commercial dairy farms and by IBERS at its dairy unit near Aberystwyth show that grass protein is used more efficiently for milk production when extra energy is provided by feeding Aber HSG varieties.
Animals were fed either an experimental Aber HSG or a recommended control ryegrass variety. Both grazing and zero grazing techniques were used in the assessments.
The main advantages of feeding Aber HSG varieties were found to be:
  • Milk yield increased substantially
In an early study that looked at Italian ryegrass across six commercial dairy farms, animals averaged 6% more milk per cow over the grazing season. In recent zero grazing trials with perennial ryegrass, the average milk yield of animals fed Aber HSG increased by 2.3kg/day in early lactation and by 2.7kg/day in late lactation, without a detrimental effect on milk quality.
  • Dry matter intakes improved significantly
Zero grazing trials at IBERS completed in 2000 found that dry matter intakes rose by around 2kg/head per day. This is particularly important in low input farming systems where producers want animals to obtain as much of their nutrients as possible from grazed grass.
  • Diet digestibility increased
In the same trial, a 3% improvement in diet digestibility was recorded with Aber HSG. The dry matter digestibility of the Aber HSG variety was found to be consistently higher than the recommended control variety throughout spring, summer and autumn.
  • The amount of feed nitrogen lost in urine is significantly reduced
In three zero grazing trials involving early, mid and late lactation animals, the amount of feed nitrogen lost in the urine was reduced by up to 24% from animals fed the Aber HSG variety. This has important implications for the environment in terms of nitrogen pollution.
Aber High Sugar Grass for beef production
Grazing trials and a companion zero grazing study run by IBERS at Aberystwyth have shown that when extra energy is provided to beef cattle by feeding Aber HSG varieties, grass protein is used more efficiently and animal performance is enhanced.
Research involved beef steers offered either an Aber HSG variety or a recommended control ryegrass variety. No extra additional feed was given, and grass intakes and liveweight gains were monitored regularly.
  • Dry matter intakes of animals fed Aber HSG increased by around 25%, compared with those fed the control variety
  • Greater intake was achieved because the Aber HSG variety was highly palatable. Additionally, Aber HSG was utilised more efficiently by rumen microbes and passed more quickly through the rumen
  • Animals grazing Aber HSG recorded average daily liveweight gains of 0.997kg/head per day, which was 20% higher than the gain of cattle fed the recommended control variety
Performance of Charolais cross steers in grazing trials at Aberystwyth, Summer 2000
  • In a separate zero grazing trial, animals fed an Aber HSG variety recorded high levels of growth performance, with an average liveweight gain of 1.3kg/head/day
  • This bonus from Aber HSG was the result of higher forage intakes and greater efficiency of grass utilisation
  • The growth rates of Aber HSG fed animals were enhanced, so they reached slaughter weights more quickly than those fed the control variety
Aber High Sugar Grass for lamb production
In both upland and lowland situations, IBERS’ grazing trials have shown Aber HSG varieties to be superior in terms of animal performance, when compared with standard ryegrass swards.
  • Initial studies on upland and lowland IBERS research farms showed that an early experimental Aber HSG variety supported significantly higher lamb growth rates
  • In recent trials with Welsh Halfbred ewes and lambs, the liveweight gain of lambs was 20% higher where animals were grazing the Aber HSG variety
  • In the same study, the carrying capacity (stocking rate) of the Aber HSG sward was 20% higher than the standard ryegrass sward
  • Ad lib forage intake of grazing lambs was higher on the Aber HSG sward.
 

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Variety ‘watch list’ for wheat yellow rust released

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Written by Charlotte Cunningham

AHDB has issued a yellow rust watch list to help flag winter wheat varieties most likely to perform out of line with the disease ratings published in the Recommended Lists. Charlotte Cunningham reports. The watch list, which orders varieties based on yellow rust levels from the three worst RL trials (for each variety), can help identify those most likely to benefit from closer monitoring, says the levy board. It follows the development of a new rating calculation approach that better reflects the diverse and dynamic nature of the UK’s rust populations, announced at the launch of the online edition of the RL 2021/22 in Dec. Discussions on the latest twists and turns...
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