Sparse hay fields - Leave or Top?

Nickb1278

Member
We keep back about 20 acres each year to cut for hay around July/August but with the weather the way it is right now the grass just isn’t growing so I’m looking at our lawn and how we deal with that and wondering whether or not it’s worth giving the fields a quick going over with the topper. Has anyone ever tried this and of so what sort of results have you had?

I mean we all have to mow our lawns fairly continually even in these dry times so would the fields maybe benefit from the same treatment at least once just to prompt them to grow?
 
If some grass plants have gone to seed already because of drought stress, then you may as well knock them over to make way for later growth.

Do give careful consideration to the idea of raking them up and baling, just incase it doesn't respond to the lawn model of grass behaviour!

We had one of our best crops of hay in recent years when forced to use the hayfield for ewes and lambs because of a lack of early growth, but most of the credit goes to some timely rain.
 

Nickb1278

Member
If some grass plants have gone to seed already because of drought stress, then you may as well knock them over to make way for later growth.

Do give careful consideration to the idea of raking them up and baling, just incase it doesn't respond to the lawn model of grass behaviour!

We had one of our best crops of hay in recent years when forced to use the hayfield for ewes and lambs because of a lack of early growth, but most of the credit goes to some timely rain.
I don’t think anything has gone to seed yet but I like the idea of grazing it so I’ll have a word with our neighbours and see if they can run their sheep through
 
Topping Topping or mowing grass after grazing can be a legitimate way to manage grass quality if done correctly. Using a mower rather than a topper may also be beneficial as it leaves a cleaner cut for the plant to regrow. Topping/mowing should be done at 4cm to re-set the field for regrowth. Topping is mostly a cosmetic exercise to tidy up fields and seed heads in late season. While this will have a beneficial effect on pasture regrowth for late summer and autumn, the main point of topping is to prevent grass from heading in the first place. Once a grass plant has headed it has fulfilled its purpose for the year and will not grow any more. Therefore, consider topping a few weeks earlier than you normally would. (taken from https://projectblue.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/Imported Publication Docs/Planning-grazing-strategies-for-better-returns.pdf)
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
Living things by their nature aim to reproduce. Grass will do that either by producing seed or sending out stolons and rhizomes (creeping stems at ground level) according to the conditions, probably both. Dry weather encourages grass to produce seed heads, which takes energy. So in theory, it sounds like a good thing to cut the grass before seed heads are formed so it grows by producing stolons and rhizomes. So, now you know the theory, you can go and find out if which is true! (Remembered from college, over 50 years ago).

(FB beat me to it).
 

pgk

Member
Agreed last year for a friend who let's us have some winter keep to take a 17 acre cut of silage on what might be the only grass we have to cut this year, might have been a bad decision.
 

RS1600BDA

Member
Location
Essex
I see some people Harrow when grass is at seed point. Not sure if it makes any difference. I don’t bother seems a waste of diesel to me. Yield seems to be constant harrowed or not.

happy to hear others views.
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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