"Improving Our Lot" - Planned Holistic Grazing, for starters..

At least if you make it brittle by your own actions, then you can cease those actions 🙂

We work on about 80-110mm per month per average, but IME you're a fool if you do.
It leaves you unprepared for the 600mm months as well as the 0mm months, at the same time
You seem to have adapted your setup to a point where you can almost sell a month’s grass growth to the “highest bidder”, whether that is custom grazing, your own stock, or just leaving the pasture to rest and regenerate. That’s an enviable degree of flexibility. 👍🏻
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
At least if you make it brittle by your own actions, then you can cease those actions 🙂

We work on about 80-110mm per month per average, but IME you're a fool if you do.
It leaves you unprepared for the 600mm months as well as the 0mm months, at the same time
These weather trends are making my old job in flood risk much more challenging as well, just at the same time that the EA has haemorrhaged experience and knowledge in flood risk teams.

Days with over 100mm have historically been rare in the UK. Since 2000 they seem to have been almost annual occurences somewhere in the country.

It's getting more and more risky to work fine seedbeds at any time of year, especially on slopes. Blaming the weather if you find most of your soil washing off just won't stand up in future.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
You seem to have adapted your setup to a point where you can almost sell a month’s grass growth to the “highest bidder”, whether that is custom grazing, your own stock, or just leaving the pasture to rest and regenerate. That’s an enviable degree of flexibility. 👍🏻
Been a few sleepless nights in the making, that one

It's weird being "that guy" sometimes, like going into winter with no silage, some grass, and not worrying about a thing.

Talk to most of the other farming people around here and they are mostly hoping for a mild autumn/winter/early spring because
-their crops are poor
-they didn't make enough bales
-their covers are either rank or gone or both
-they can't get stock away

... and I count my blessings I took a month off when it still counted for something!
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
It's "getting interesting" to run a farm here....

The days of successfully following a recipe are clearly gone.

The "average" column is the Met Office long term averages for their nearest station to here.

May is usually a warm month with regular rainfall hence reliable rapid grass growth. Silage first cuts are "normally" in the 3rd week of May. This year some folk in the much wetter western counties are grazing their silage ground in desperation. That's clearly not good for next winter.

Those 2020 April and May rainfall figures hide the fact that there were long gaps between big rainfall so, like this year, the growth stalled. This time its been dry And most nights in April had frost.

Time to adapt or get out.
time to adapt or get out.
Very harsh words, which are, unfortunately, absolutely correct.
Farming is going through another period of change, to what, we don't really know, climate pattern change, and political change, more scary is the threat from imported food, and how that will effect our prices here.
If we are incredibly lucky, the high prices seen for our products, are the result of brexit, the 'threat' of imported food, has been used by processors to keep prices down, it may be, that threat is rather hollow, and costs of imported, adds up, meat exports to the EU are down by a third, as our lamb was exported, why are prices still so high ? I think l will sit tight, and wait for a 'bubble' to burst.
But whatever happens, farming is going to alter, and we will have to adapt to those changes, we have no option, but where @holwellcourtfarm is saying, adapt or get out, the hard facts are true, but for any farmer that isn't prepared, or perhaps cannot, with prices where they are, they could come out on a high now, or wait till forced out, on a low, and it's a very very hard decision to make.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
High returns are a great time to consolidate.

Never really "got" why you'd spend your profit to just avoid paying tax on profit and then bitch about the next year not being so good 🤷‍♂️

eg if I work on a ten year average, we've had 8 sh!t summers in that time

we've had 7 godawful wet winters, with frosts ranging from virtually nil to -16°

6 random out-of-season snowfalls

based on that, why would anyone plan on plain sailing, rain in the summer and mild the rest of the time? Or more to the point, why would I spend money based on "increased production" when it will probably be limited by something other than lack of whatever it is they're selling
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Both really. Increase productivity of the land, many of my leys are 20+ years old so there's a bit of all sorts in there.
Was thinking about trying some non-grass grazing species, but not a straight brassica crop... Starting to see the benefits of diverse leys, so looking to avoid monocultures.
forage rape has saved us these last 3 summers, it's fed y/stock, dry and milkers from july onwards, not ideal, but cheap and easy to grow. It wasn't very long ago l read an article from NZ, advocating single cultivars' in leys, presumably with clover, and on this thread we are talking about diverse leys ! Who is right ?
We don't have much pp, till now having rented more ground, but with older leys and pp that we do have, we have markedly improved by tight grazing, by dry or y/stock, docks are happily eaten, and you can see plant density, and you then have an option to overseed, you can get herbal overseeding mixes.
We buy clover, and herbs independently, and not included, we can 'play' about with mixes a bit then, white clover blends, seem to be better varieties, than those included already.
Have a play with your pp, especially with dry or y/s, strict control with strip/back fence, you will be amazed by how many extra days/weeks you can get, with no detrimental effect on cattle, plus you improve the grass.
 

Henarar

Member
Livestock Farmer
It's "getting interesting" to run a farm here....

The days of successfully following a recipe are clearly gone.

The "average" column is the Met Office long term averages for their nearest station to here.

May is usually a warm month with regular rainfall hence reliable rapid grass growth. Silage first cuts are "normally" in the 3rd week of May. This year some folk in the much wetter western counties are grazing their silage ground in desperation. That's clearly not good for next winter.

Those 2020 April and May rainfall figures hide the fact that there were long gaps between big rainfall so, like this year, the growth stalled. This time its been dry And most nights in April had frost.

Time to adapt or get out.
Has it ever been much different or do we just remember it as more "normal"
2012 was a reasonable start we made some good early silage then it p1ssed down the rest of the year 2013 was cold start with bugger all grass about 7 months with the cattle inside, remember must have been early 80's we didn't turn out till june and still absolutely buggerd the field they went in to, dad reckoned one year years ago it snowed in june just a bit first thing but it was there, another year it rained so much it washed Granddads hay up in the hedge that would have been early 60's I think, Mum worked on a next door farm in the 60's one year was so dry they turned the dairy cows out the start of April, wouldn't have done that since.
yes weather patterns maybe changing we maybe getting more "odd" weather but I think it has always happened on and off and you have to be prepared for it or be prepared to be caught out
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Has it ever been much different or do we just remember it as more "normal"
2012 was a reasonable start we made some good early silage then it p1ssed down the rest of the year 2013 was cold start with bugger all grass about 7 months with the cattle inside, remember must have been early 80's we didn't turn out till june and still absolutely buggerd the field they went in to, dad reckoned one year years ago it snowed in june just a bit first thing but it was there, another year it rained so much it washed Granddads hay up in the hedge that would have been early 60's I think, Mum worked on a next door farm in the 60's one year was so dry they turned the dairy cows out the start of April, wouldn't have done that since.
yes weather patterns maybe changing we maybe getting more "odd" weather but I think it has always happened on and off and you have to be prepared for it or be prepared to be caught out
Mid 90s were great down here. And I think many of the current crop of farmers were getting into it about then, which probably compounds it, especially as it was the big dairy rediscovery around here (every farm used to milk a few cows back in the day)

been a while since I've seen hillsides fall off due to the amount and severity of rain, all the same
 

Jonny B88

Member
Location
ballykelly. NI
Both really. Increase productivity of the land, many of my leys are 20+ years old so there's a bit of all sorts in there.
Was thinking about trying some non-grass grazing species, but not a straight brassica crop... Starting to see the benefits of diverse leys, so looking to avoid monocultures.
Summer warm season cover crop? Has anyone used or have experience of grazing sorghum/sudan grass in this part of the world? I know Gabe brown loves it.
 

crashbox

Member
Livestock Farmer
forage rape has saved us these last 3 summers, it's fed y/stock, dry and milkers from july onwards, not ideal, but cheap and easy to grow. It wasn't very long ago l read an article from NZ, advocating single cultivars' in leys, presumably with clover, and on this thread we are talking about diverse leys ! Who is right ?
We don't have much pp, till now having rented more ground, but with older leys and pp that we do have, we have markedly improved by tight grazing, by dry or y/stock, docks are happily eaten, and you can see plant density, and you then have an option to overseed, you can get herbal overseeding mixes.
We buy clover, and herbs independently, and not included, we can 'play' about with mixes a bit then, white clover blends, seem to be better varieties, than those included already.
Have a play with your pp, especially with dry or y/s, strict control with strip/back fence, you will be amazed by how many extra days/weeks you can get, with no detrimental effect on cattle, plus you improve the grass.
Good call on forage rape, I wondered if I could direct drill a combo of brassica, herbs (chicory, plantain, burnet) and legumes (Lucerne, red/white clover) into the existing sward.
Would any of these be resistant to the common grassland pests? (Frit fly, wire worm, leather jackets, etc.)
Might ask in the dairy/forage forum to see if anyone else has had success...

Re grazing improvement, yes agree that's a key tool in the box. As usual, too much pressure for results today!
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Good call on forage rape, I wondered if I could direct drill a combo of brassica, herbs (chicory, plantain, burnet) and legumes (Lucerne, red/white clover) into the existing sward. Would any of these be resistant to the common grassland pests? (Frit fly, wire worm, leather jackets, etc.) Might ask in the dairy/forage forum to see if anyone else has had success... Re grazing improvement, yes agree that's a key tool in the box. As usual, too much pressure for results today!
Good call on forage rape, I wondered if I could direct drill a combo of brassica, herbs (chicory, plantain, burnet) and legumes (Lucerne, red/white clover) into the existing sward. Would any of these be resistant to the common grassland pests? (Frit fly, wire worm, leather jackets, etc.) Might ask in the dairy/forage forum to see if anyone else has had success... Re grazing improvement, yes agree that's a key tool in the box. As usual, too much pressure for results today!
Good call on forage rape, I wondered if I could direct drill a combo of brassica, herbs (chicory, plantain, burnet) and legumes (Lucerne, red/white clover) into the existing sward. Would any of these be resistant to the common grassland pests? (Frit fly, wire worm, leather jackets, etc.) Might ask in the dairy/forage forum to see if anyone else has had success... Re grazing improvement, yes agree that's a key tool in the box. As usual, too much pressure for results today!
Good call on forage rape, I wondered if I could direct drill a combo of brassica, herbs (chicory, plantain, burnet) and legumes (Lucerne, red/white clover) into the existing sward.
Would any of these be resistant to the common grassland pests? (Frit fly, wire worm, leather jackets, etc.)
Might ask in the dairy/forage forum to see if anyone else has had success...

Re grazing improvement, yes agree that's a key tool in the box. As usual, too much pressure for results today!
the 'bugs' take advice from the experts, seed mix, probably down to drill type, our vaderstat is pretty good.
lucerne as a + to grass ley, done a lot in the USA, and have been thinking about using it here, the seed has to be inoculated to grow.
the big problem with diverse mixes, is weed control, most annuals disappear after 1st grazing, all we really need to do, is train our stock to eat docks, nettles and thistles. Cattle will graze docks right down, with tight grazing, quite happily, it's whether they have acquired the taste, in normal grazing, we can but hope. Never used a weed wiper, that may be a better answer than a hand sprayer !
had to read your post 4 times !:rolleyes:
 

Poorbuthappy

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Devon
Summer warm season cover crop? Has anyone used or have experience of grazing sorghum/sudan grass in this part of the world? I know Gabe brown loves it.
Gave some a try in a mixed crop I drilled for grazing. Didn't have any success, but weather really didn't play ball (a recurring theme) - being very dry for weeks, followed by 2 days of 35mm each in mid June with single figure temperatures.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
we all get concerned about dry summers, me in particular, but we have had awfully wet ones, and ideal ones, which we tend to forget about. After 3 dry ones we have decided to farm for them. There must be loads of crops ideal for dry conditions, sudan grass, lucerne, maize etc, the question should be, how does an (occasional) wet summer effect their growth. For us, with the rain we have had, not as much as needed, and using the stream as a barometer, we are definitely water deficient, at the moment, that could change quickly. The other side, if we don't try them, we don't know, so all of us posting on here, should say how they have got on with different crops, the bad, perhaps more important than the good.
 

exmoor dave

Member
Location
exmoor, uk
we all get concerned about dry summers, me in particular, but we have had awfully wet ones, and ideal ones, which we tend to forget about. After 3 dry ones we have decided to farm for them. There must be loads of crops ideal for dry conditions, sudan grass, lucerne, maize etc, the question should be, how does an (occasional) wet summer effect their growth. For us, with the rain we have had, not as much as needed, and using the stream as a barometer, we are definitely water deficient, at the moment, that could change quickly. The other side, if we don't try them, we don't know, so all of us posting on here, should say how they have got on with different crops, the bad, perhaps more important than the good.

I've been reading the odd snippets from;


The Clifton Park System of Farming- and laying down land to grass​


a guide to landlords, tenants
and land legislators
by

Robert H. Elliot


It really is fascinating how much potential knowledge we've seemingly let slide away through the bagged N and various agri chems era
 

Guleesh

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Isle of Skye

crashbox

Member
Livestock Farmer
the 'bugs' take advice from the experts, seed mix, probably down to drill type, our vaderstat is pretty good.
lucerne as a + to grass ley, done a lot in the USA, and have been thinking about using it here, the seed has to be inoculated to grow.
the big problem with diverse mixes, is weed control, most annuals disappear after 1st grazing, all we really need to do, is train our stock to eat docks, nettles and thistles. Cattle will graze docks right down, with tight grazing, quite happily, it's whether they have acquired the taste, in normal grazing, we can but hope. Never used a weed wiper, that may be a better answer than a hand sprayer !
had to read your post 4 times !:rolleyes:
@som farmer what's your technique for establishing the forage rape? What time of year?
Wondering if we'll get enough moisture of I go this month...
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
was reading about this, it's straight from the new set of greening rules from the EU, there are two different types, one length for upland grazing, and one for pp, as suggested there are two payment levels, the enhanced payment, for upland, can be used for downland, but not between march the 15th and april 1st, in any two year period. To get the right length grazing restricter, you have to measure the length of your commonest weed, on the longest day, and use a maximum of 3 cm's longer than that. For welfare reasons, sheep must have 2 hours a day free grazing, other than this, they are required to wear it all other times. The aim of this payment is to get a standard height of your weeds, so no one weed will be able to outgrow another, and the country side will look much more uniform. It is expected to be a high take up of this option, especially from people that like very very lean meat.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
@som farmer what's your technique for establishing the forage rape? What time of year?
Wondering if we'll get enough moisture of I go this month...
we start mid march, 2 acres a time, so as not to get a disaster, we are not putting much in this year, but the 2 acre block we have in, sown early april, cows will be in tomorrow, it's at the just emerging stage, and threatened by the grass that's grown up ! That is unusual, should be 6 in by now, not 1cm, will leave, or spin some more on after.
This had r-up washings on it, dry cows had poached it a bit, so chain harrow, spun on, roll and fail. We use all types of ways, r-up dd, cultivate and drill, or spin on, keep a serious look out for flea beetle, unless growing flat out, it can decimate it very quickly. For quick bulky protien, it's a cheap crop.
There's a lot riding on our grass this summer, we think the grass looks good enough, to stay there, and not needing to rip up any for rape, fingers crossed.
 

Starane Hi-Load HL has been granted a new EAMU for BLW control in Millet

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Starane Hi-Load HL has been granted a new EAMU for BLW control in Millet

"With the loss of Bromoxynil another BLW herbicide was needed" says Premium Crops Company Agronomist, Hannah Foxall,"Having fluroxypyr as a Post-Emergence option will enhance our control of; cleavers, knotgrass, black nightshade, fumitory, chickweed and black bindweed in the millet crop"

As with all EAMUs any restrictions guidance stated on the products labels must be adhered to and the approval document can be found by clicking...
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