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

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
pretty well sums it up, but at least things are slowly moving towards good soil management, the see the word regenerative, more than you used to, a small, but welcome sign, better when they explain it.
Keep thinking on grazing, as for the last 3 summers, that has been the b-all and end-all for us, and if we don't make enough fodder, or have enough grazing, the dairy will go, full stop. But hopefully we will be ok, quite a lot of extra land, nearly 100 acres, and with a benign summer, we will have mountains. Interestingly, the cost of the purchased fodder, is more than the yearly rent, each year !
As many, i quite like to watch greg judy, interesting chap, better since he outed the goats, and have picked up ideas from him. There is no doubt that his stock look fantastic, and a credit to his system. But, can we copy it over here, there would have to be alterations, looking at his stock, it's hard to believe they are only 450 kg's, and stand 4 ft high, not at all sure that would suit the UK beef trade, although the NBA are suggesting we do, but plenty of opposition.
The NZ grazing system, as practiced over here, advocates a 450 kg cow, i think NZ are going smaller again, but might be wrong on that. For us, we need a 5/525kg cow, as without the acreage, we actually need some extra milk, and the cull and calf price, are very helpful, although we want easy calving, and sometimes the two don't meet. It is hard to work the system, round the farm, the extra land is all long term pasture, or pp, so will be interesting to see how that will perform, although most of it will be cut, some cut only. The leys here on the grazing platform, seems to be a juggling act, between eating it off at 'the ideal' stage, the first 3 leaf's, or leaving longer residuals, which again, we know works as well. Having buffer fed the cows for the last 3 summers, we have not seen their potential for milk from grass, which we really need them to do, this summer, and this point, is where i am stuck at, and cannot really find the answer, or perhaps decide. How much difference in the quality of the grass, does the two systems, short or long residuals, actually differ, or, how much milk is there in each type, or, another way, by how much will it increase our milk from forage, or even just grass. That is really what i want to know. The answer is try both, and see, but that could be an expensive trial, and after the last 3 yrs, there's not a lot of backfat, to live on, we have used it up.
 

Henarar

Member
Livestock Farmer
Sad, but remarkably near the truth

Quite happy to still be at the cowpoke-with-happy-soil stage
You know you done that cover crop back along by spraying the pasture off first but not killing it, I was just wondering if the same could be done and drill in a crop of wheat or barley? After all it has to fit in somewhere, could it be an occasional crop on permanent grassland?
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
pretty well sums it up, but at least things are slowly moving towards good soil management, the see the word regenerative, more than you used to, a small, but welcome sign, better when they explain it.
Keep thinking on grazing, as for the last 3 summers, that has been the b-all and end-all for us, and if we don't make enough fodder, or have enough grazing, the dairy will go, full stop. But hopefully we will be ok, quite a lot of extra land, nearly 100 acres, and with a benign summer, we will have mountains. Interestingly, the cost of the purchased fodder, is more than the yearly rent, each year !
As many, i quite like to watch greg judy, interesting chap, better since he outed the goats, and have picked up ideas from him. There is no doubt that his stock look fantastic, and a credit to his system. But, can we copy it over here, there would have to be alterations, looking at his stock, it's hard to believe they are only 450 kg's, and stand 4 ft high, not at all sure that would suit the UK beef trade, although the NBA are suggesting we do, but plenty of opposition.
The NZ grazing system, as practiced over here, advocates a 450 kg cow, i think NZ are going smaller again, but might be wrong on that. For us, we need a 5/525kg cow, as without the acreage, we actually need some extra milk, and the cull and calf price, are very helpful, although we want easy calving, and sometimes the two don't meet. It is hard to work the system, round the farm, the extra land is all long term pasture, or pp, so will be interesting to see how that will perform, although most of it will be cut, some cut only. The leys here on the grazing platform, seems to be a juggling act, between eating it off at 'the ideal' stage, the first 3 leaf's, or leaving longer residuals, which again, we know works as well. Having buffer fed the cows for the last 3 summers, we have not seen their potential for milk from grass, which we really need them to do, this summer, and this point, is where i am stuck at, and cannot really find the answer, or perhaps decide. How much difference in the quality of the grass, does the two systems, short or long residuals, actually differ, or, how much milk is there in each type, or, another way, by how much will it increase our milk from forage, or even just grass. That is really what i want to know. The answer is try both, and see, but that could be an expensive trial, and after the last 3 yrs, there's not a lot of backfat, to live on, we have used it up.
If forage availability is really such a massive factor in your system why not take a step back and consider OAD? Lots of small pieces of resilience in a simple system could actually work for you.
 

awkward

Member
Location
kerry ireland
pretty well sums it up, but at least things are slowly moving towards good soil management, the see the word regenerative, more than you used to, a small, but welcome sign, better when they explain it.
Keep thinking on grazing, as for the last 3 summers, that has been the b-all and end-all for us, and if we don't make enough fodder, or have enough grazing, the dairy will go, full stop. But hopefully we will be ok, quite a lot of extra land, nearly 100 acres, and with a benign summer, we will have mountains. Interestingly, the cost of the purchased fodder, is more than the yearly rent, each year !
As many, i quite like to watch greg judy, interesting chap, better since he outed the goats, and have picked up ideas from him. There is no doubt that his stock look fantastic, and a credit to his system. But, can we copy it over here, there would have to be alterations, looking at his stock, it's hard to believe they are only 450 kg's, and stand 4 ft high, not at all sure that would suit the UK beef trade, although the NBA are suggesting we do, but plenty of opposition.
The NZ grazing system, as practiced over here, advocates a 450 kg cow, i think NZ are going smaller again, but might be wrong on that. For us, we need a 5/525kg cow, as without the acreage, we actually need some extra milk, and the cull and calf price, are very helpful, although we want easy calving, and sometimes the two don't meet. It is hard to work the system, round the farm, the extra land is all long term pasture, or pp, so will be interesting to see how that will perform, although most of it will be cut, some cut only. The leys here on the grazing platform, seems to be a juggling act, between eating it off at 'the ideal' stage, the first 3 leaf's, or leaving longer residuals, which again, we know works as well. Having buffer fed the cows for the last 3 summers, we have not seen their potential for milk from grass, which we really need them to do, this summer, and this point, is where i am stuck at, and cannot really find the answer, or perhaps decide. How much difference in the quality of the grass, does the two systems, short or long residuals, actually differ, or, how much milk is there in each type, or, another way, by how much will it increase our milk from forage, or even just grass. That is really what i want to know. The answer is try both, and see, but that could be an expensive trial, and after the last 3 yrs, there's not a lot of backfat, to live on, we have used it up.
Ironically, we are in a similar predicament, but we have found gut fill to be more important than optimum grass quality, we are hoping for a normal wet west of Ireland summer aswell, so we might get some surplus fodder, have been scorched for 6 years now but holistic grazing practices have helped hugely, and learning how to hold moisture has been very interesting, lots to learn yet.
 
Ironically, we are in a similar predicament, but we have found gut fill to be more important than optimum grass quality, we are hoping for a normal wet west of Ireland summer aswell, so we might get some surplus fodder, have been scorched for 6 years now but holistic grazing practices have helped hugely, and learning how to hold moisture has been very interesting, lots to learn yet.
A good Spring would make a nice change.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
You know you done that cover crop back along by spraying the pasture off first but not killing it, I was just wondering if the same could be done and drill in a crop of wheat or barley? After all it has to fit in somewhere, could it be an occasional crop on permanent grassland?
I think it would work once in a while, alright.
Several Aussies do similar by using the gap between cool + warm season grasses but no need to spray in that case
The big downside is if you use low rates of herbicide on a regular basis then you're on track to resistance to that particular herbicide, so I wouldn't use roundup to do it (and didn't use roundup for that reason).

I think you'd be better to try it on a "skunked" field rather than a really good growing field as it will soon be back (the pasture) and I wouldn't use any N too early on either
pretty well sums it up, but at least things are slowly moving towards good soil management, the see the word regenerative, more than you used to, a small, but welcome sign, better when they explain it.
Keep thinking on grazing, as for the last 3 summers, that has been the b-all and end-all for us, and if we don't make enough fodder, or have enough grazing, the dairy will go, full stop. But hopefully we will be ok, quite a lot of extra land, nearly 100 acres, and with a benign summer, we will have mountains. Interestingly, the cost of the purchased fodder, is more than the yearly rent, each year !
As many, i quite like to watch greg judy, interesting chap, better since he outed the goats, and have picked up ideas from him. There is no doubt that his stock look fantastic, and a credit to his system. But, can we copy it over here, there would have to be alterations, looking at his stock, it's hard to believe they are only 450 kg's, and stand 4 ft high, not at all sure that would suit the UK beef trade, although the NBA are suggesting we do, but plenty of opposition.
The NZ grazing system, as practiced over here, advocates a 450 kg cow, i think NZ are going smaller again, but might be wrong on that. For us, we need a 5/525kg cow, as without the acreage, we actually need some extra milk, and the cull and calf price, are very helpful, although we want easy calving, and sometimes the two don't meet. It is hard to work the system, round the farm, the extra land is all long term pasture, or pp, so will be interesting to see how that will perform, although most of it will be cut, some cut only. The leys here on the grazing platform, seems to be a juggling act, between eating it off at 'the ideal' stage, the first 3 leaf's, or leaving longer residuals, which again, we know works as well. Having buffer fed the cows for the last 3 summers, we have not seen their potential for milk from grass, which we really need them to do, this summer, and this point, is where i am stuck at, and cannot really find the answer, or perhaps decide. How much difference in the quality of the grass, does the two systems, short or long residuals, actually differ, or, how much milk is there in each type, or, another way, by how much will it increase our milk from forage, or even just grass. That is really what i want to know. The answer is try both, and see, but that could be an expensive trial, and after the last 3 yrs, there's not a lot of backfat, to live on, we have used it up.
It probably depends to a fair degree what recovery times you're all comfortable with.
Personally having had experience with both the longer residuals and the tighter grazing, the simple answer for dairy is: whatever gives you the longest practical grazing season and gives the best overall leaf:stem ratio. There is no "right way" because some puggy fields suit the longer grass and some need the longer recovery.

Flexibility is key, don't look too hard for "the system" because all systems have failure points
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
You know you done that cover crop back along by spraying the pasture off first but not killing it, I was just wondering if the same could be done and drill in a crop of wheat or barley? After all it has to fit in somewhere, could it be an occasional crop on permanent grassland?
chickened out of that, we had a ley 'go wrong', year 2 was w clover over 75% of field, it was the small leaf, not sown, and i was going to drill wheat into it, got talked out of it, but wished i had done it.

If forage availability is really such a massive factor in your system why not take a step back and consider OAD? Lots of small pieces of resilience in a simple system could actually work for you.
oad is an interesting thought, and is attractive in many ways, but it basically boils down to how much debt you carry, there is a big difference in yield, a good friend, went from organic oad, to robots, parlour bulk tank, to 1st collection robots, double the litres, and he has gone from 3500 l/cow to 6000/cow, very little has changed, the cows go through about 2.3 times a day, and still graze. We have got some serious money to borrow, in the next few years, to buy the farm, and we have to show our accounts, in the best possible light, although i already own a far chunk, family.


I think it would work once in a while, alright.
Several Aussies do similar by using the gap between cool + warm season grasses but no need to spray in that case
The big downside is if you use low rates of herbicide on a regular basis then you're on track to resistance to that particular herbicide, so I wouldn't use roundup to do it (and didn't use roundup for that reason).

I think you'd be better to try it on a "skunked" field rather than a really good growing field as it will soon be back (the pasture) and I wouldn't use any N too early on either

It probably depends to a fair degree what recovery times you're all comfortable with.
Personally having had experience with both the longer residuals and the tighter grazing, the simple answer for dairy is: whatever gives you the longest practical grazing season and gives the best overall leaf:stem ratio. There is no "right way" because some puggy fields suit the longer grass and some need the longer recovery.

Flexibility is key, don't look too hard for "the system" because all systems have failure points
thinking along the lines of what the cows do, selective grazing, take the best bits from all systems, and 'feel' our way through.
It's a worthwhile exercise, to write out your thoughts on here, even if i'm long winded, it looks different when you actually look at them, in print, and you get a few thoughts thrown back at you. It's a sobering thought, realising that another dry summer good easily change our farming, dairy is one of the biggest cash flow exercises you can do, and we are good at, and profitable, but drought has removed the back fat, profits have fallen, not to loss though, and it is directly linked to drought, we have had to buy fodder, and a lot of it, for 2.5 winters, we have had to reseed some fields, x2, and overseed etc, costs well over normal, and then you have the cows yield, what is the amount of yield from grass we have lost, and now, we have to get thinks back on track.
selective grazing, sounds rather good.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Perhaps the selective grazing "chasing litres" is also making the summer dry period bite harder, less fat in the system with the shorter grazing round? And likewise the need to reseed?

Just throwing the ball back to you, if you put 10% more 'cow grazing days/acre' in front of your herd, do you then need to spend 10% less on variable costs associated with feeding them?
 

awkward

Member
Location
kerry ireland
Perhaps the selective grazing "chasing litres" is also making the summer dry period bite harder, less fat in the system with the shorter grazing round? And likewise the need to reseed?

Just throwing the ball back to you, if you put 10% more 'cow grazing days/acre' in front of your herd, do you then need to spend 10% less on variable costs associated with feeding them?
Our experience last year at 30 days plus ,we couldn't grow enough to feed the herd, so costs ramped up, we were simply too dry here from April up to mid August, a unique thing for this part of the world.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Perhaps the selective grazing "chasing litres" is also making the summer dry period bite harder, less fat in the system with the shorter grazing round? And likewise the need to reseed?

Just throwing the ball back to you, if you put 10% more 'cow grazing days/acre' in front of your herd, do you then need to spend 10% less on variable costs associated with feeding them?
the idea is milk from grass, with milk from forage, both good, but slightly different. There is little point in chasing yield, for the sake of it, sometimes it's worth it, usually not, 2litres of milk, from 1 kg of conc, is usually 1litre for 1kg conc, but the figure quoted is the 2 for 1. Bulk tank volume, is great headlines, but it's how much stays in your pocket, that's the important one. The litres we want to chase, are from grass/forage, we simply do not know what our cows are capable of, yet. The shorter grazing round, was to try and stop the dairy eating down to the roots, and the longer residual helped keep something in front of them. With the extra acres, and fewer stock, there will be 140 acres, available on farm, for grazing, if needed, forage can come from the extra, and hopefully reduce reseeding and fert, traditionally we have grown forage rape for summer grazing, and it has saved our 'bacon' these past summers, but we shouldn't need to grow 20/30 acres of it, and run short of grass, and buffer feed, it's stupid, most would agree.
We have put an autumn calving block in, for various reasons, we had to, and they are milking well from a simple diet, but our worst months for grass, are july-august, so that should ease grazing, they can go to the extra, when dried off. One has to calculate for a dry summer, even though the law of averages say unlikely, thought that last year. So, as best we can, we have covered all bases, and if it doesn't work this year, cows go. So kp, we should be able to extend the grazing round, and use less fert, and as long as we can maintain grass quality, the yield should go up. Now, we have to work at maintaining grass quality, a change from chasing quantity.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
One of our plans for the coming spring is to undersow our silage ground, oats and vetch or something along this line ,to bulk up the crop, tried it with forage rape last year but it dried out too quickly or maybe I was too late but will give that a try again but a little earlier.
we took our hybrid rye off, end may, kale straight in behind, luckily we had the 1 storm of rain then, and away it went, inadvertently we had bought seed dressed with fert, and am quite certain that helped get it away quicker ! We have h/rye and winter vetch in, remembering from years back, oats used to flatten, under the weight of the vetches, an awful job harvesting it, and uncle stopped growing it for that reason, so if you do decide to do it, please take notice of the standing rating of the oats, i worry about the rye !
 

Rob Garrett

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Derbyshire UK
we took our hybrid rye off, end may, kale straight in behind, luckily we had the 1 storm of rain then, and away it went, inadvertently we had bought seed dressed with fert, and am quite certain that helped get it away quicker ! We have h/rye and winter vetch in, remembering from years back, oats used to flatten, under the weight of the vetches, an awful job harvesting it, and uncle stopped growing it for that reason, so if you do decide to do it, please take notice of the standing rating of the oats, i worry about the rye !
Talking of oats. Turned cows onto spring oat/clover stubble bale grazing yesterday, bit disappointed. Frost & snow flattened oats so drifted ewes over it. Even more disappointing the silage led out in autumn, so turning a negative into positive with a hybrid sheet compost/bale graze experiment, unrolled bales & kept cows tight to tread in.
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Talking of oats. Turned cows onto spring oat/clover stubble bale grazing yesterday, bit disappointed. Frost & snow flattened oats so drifted ewes over it. Even more disappointing the silage led out in autumn, so turning a negative into positive with a hybrid sheet compost/bale graze experiment, unrolled bales & kept cows tight to tread in.View attachment 935580View attachment 935582View attachment 935583View attachment 935584View attachment 935585View attachment 935587
Oh dear! Have the birds been at your bales?
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
Talking of oats. Turned cows onto spring oat/clover stubble bale grazing yesterday, bit disappointed. Frost & snow flattened oats so drifted ewes over it. Even more disappointing the silage led out in autumn, so turning a negative into positive with a hybrid sheet compost/bale graze experiment, unrolled bales & kept cows tight to tread in.View attachment 935580View attachment 935582View attachment 935583View attachment 935584View attachment 935585View attachment 935587
That looks hard work rolling them bales out .
 

The new Sustainable Farming Incentive

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The new Sustainable Farming Incentive

Written by Tom Lewis


Source: Natural England

At NFU21, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs...
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