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Use the high quality feed growing in the fields to produce milk and meat says GrassMaster Charlie Morgan.

Use the high quality feed growing in the fields to produce milk and meat says GrassMaster Charlie Morgan.


Volatile cereal prices and uncertainties over future global wheat supplies are key reasons why livestock farmers should include more grass in their feeding plans this spring, according to independent grassland expert Charlie Morgan.

Speaking at Duchy College in Cornwall last week at a meeting supported by Dow AgroSciences, he said that grass has all the nutrients ruminants need to produce milk and to grow.

Well-managed it also costs 6.5p to produce per kilo of dry matter, significantly cheaper than brought-in cereals which can be up to 26p/kg DM.

“All livestock farmers are affected by global events such as the switch to growing crops for fuel, traders playing the markets with cereals and abnormal climatic events,” said Mr Morgan.

“It is increasingly risky and financially unsound to rely on cereals to produce meat and milk and something farmers have no control over. Incorporating more home grown forages into their systems would reduce this uncertainty and cost.”

Needs management

But he went on to say that grass has to be managed properly with a sound grazing and reseeding policy, to support the level of production expected. Surveys across Wales shows that the amount of grass grown on farms varies considerably from 4t DM/ha up to 18t DM/ha.

“Grass, like any other crop requires attention to detail to produce to its potential,” said Mr Morgan. “The soil must have good structure and show signs of microbial and worm activity; nutrient status needs to be spot on, and weeds need controlling or they will reduce overall yields and feeding quality.

“The fields also need to be eaten down and rested in a way that encourages high quality regrowth for grazing later in the season. This can only be achieved by measuring grass growth and using a sward stick or platemeter to decide the ideal time stock should enter or leave a field. It may involve a bit of extra work – but will be cheaper than buying-in cereals.”

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