Monday, 12 October 2015

Autumnal Grazing

Cows off to graze on a brisk morning.

Today's post will be about autumn grazing management.

Things are going well at Tre Abbot. Autumn has been very kind so far. From a poor start, with a cold and miserable August, it has soon turned out to be a fantastic period for grass and cows. Where we had budgeted growth in the 40s, instead we've had almost a fortnight growing at 60+kgDM/Ha/Day. Along with this the weather has stayed dry, allowing for very clean residuals.

Just to emphasise the point, and to prove I don't just take pictures of cows and grass, here's my 6 months old in the garden.

Mari enjoying the warm weather!

So at this time of year the grazing is simplified using an autumn rotation planner. Basically in this, our final round, we aim to graze 60% of the farm in October and 40% in November. Knowing the farm has little to no winter growth, and that we have a very high spring demand, we will aim to finish grazing with a cover of 2200kgDM/Ha. Grazing management has become offering the cows the same allocation every day, and supplementing the difference. Along with the rotation planner we use an autumn budget so we know how much grass should be on the farm each week until drying off.

Autumn Budget

As you can see, despite a poor start, growth has been exceptional and leaves us just ahead of budget going into this week. Both the autumn rotation planner and the budget are very simple tools that we have used for over ten years now. Not trying to reinvent the wheel, and sticking to tried and tested grazing management has led to very consistent and replicable results.

R1s happy on the break.

On a personal note, in the past couple of months I've taken on work as a grazing consultant. So far I've really enjoyed the experience working with some interesting and varied clients. Being put on the spot and challenged to provide advice has really helped firm my own values around resilient grass based systems and the positive effects grazing can have for man and beast alike! My current plans are to keep it to two visits a week.

Until next time, keep grazing!

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