What to do about the lack of grass?


Staff Member
Despite rainfall in early May across the UK, farmers are faced with limited grass growth for this time of year.

Wynnstay grass and roots manager, Colin Jones, says although welcomed, this wet weather is still a little too late to offset the lack of grass many are currently faced with.

“With the driest April since 1981, and the Met Office recording the greatest number of air frosts of any April since 19601, we haven’t seen the usual spring flush of grass,” says Colin.

“Ewes and lambs were turned out to grass which has struggled to regrow, and dairy and beef farmers are contemplating when to take the first cut of silage. However, it’s not all doom and gloom if a grass and feeding strategy is reviewed and implemented now.”

Colin says there is still time to introduce short term leys or stitching in mixes where grass regrowth is slow.

“Opting for a Westerwold variety is a good option for a short-term ley to provide bulk later in the season, either as a grazing option or as back-up for the clamp,” he says.

“Stitching-in mixes into older leys is also growing in popularity, with growers choosing a half-hybrid mix such as Fortress. It’s a resilient, tetraploid mix which establishes well, and is suitable for silage. This is a good option if leys are lacking sward coverage and will be ready for cuts later in the summer.”

For those looking to push lambs to target weight, Colin recommends planting brassicas such as kale, stubble turnips, forage rape or tyfon.

“It’s worth the investment with lamb and cull ewe prices so promising,” he says. “For March-born lambs, creep feeding is recommended to get lambs away early, but for other groups, feeding brassicas can support good lamb growth.

“As well as providing a high-value feed with a short growing period, brassicas are beneficial break crops, supporting soil health and structure for following cereals and/or grass leys.

“Tyfon is also suitable for cattle, with its anchored root system and quick, leafy regrowth,” he adds

If getting silage cut is the concern, Colin says attention should be on what to do once the forage is in the clamp.

“Patience is key, but I think we have to realise there will be variation in cuts this year.

“The majority of producers will be going for quantity over quality at the moment, and we’ll have to hope the weather is on our side for later cuts. If you’ve been able to get a first cut in the clamp, or are looking to cut in the coming weeks, make sure good clamp management is a priority.

“Cut when the weather is right, with a cutting height of around 7cm, and consider the use of a silage additive to optimise performance and help deal with the variable quality of each cut once in the clamp.

“Whatever the situation, planning ahead is key,” Colin adds. “Take the time now to assess the current forage, and act if you think winter feeding may be an issue.”

Could a ‘Meat Tax’ be on the cards in the UK?

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Written by Richard Halleron from Agriland

The latest machination coming from the so-called ‘opinion formers’, who seem to have the ear of government advisors in London, is the introduction of a ‘Meat Tax’ at consumer level.

This approach, it is argued, would have the combined impact of reducing meat consumption levels (I can really see the health benefits coming through now), while also helping to reduce the overall carbon footprint of production agriculture.

What absolute drivel! In my opinion, none of this makes sense at any level. This is a scurrilous and unfounded attack on livestock farming in this part of the world.

Yet, it has to be taken seriously. I make this point because economists at Rothamsted Research have already crunched the numbers where the introduction of a ‘UK...