Seeing practical grass management in action

Glarryford BDG members pictured with host Matthew Cunning (centre) and Rachel Megarrell, CAFRE Beef and Sheep Adviser
Glarryford BDG members pictured with host Matthew Cunning (centre) and Rachel Megarrell, CAFRE Beef and Sheep Adviser

The Glarryford Suckler Beef Business Development Group recently visited the farm of Matthew Cunning, Glarryford.

Matthew runs 30 pedigree Simmental cows and 100 spring lambing ewes on a part-time basis.

At present, he is running a set stocked system and is keen to focus on making the best use of grass within his system to achieve optimum utilisation levels and to increase animal performance.

On the evening the group looked at the typical grass growth curve and the fluctuations that occur during the year. Grass growth has been particularly high this year and going in to graze heavy grass covers to achieve good utilisation has been one of the biggest challenges facing farmers this year. Merits of pre-mowing v’s topping were discussed to help manage the high level of cover on the grazing area. The importance of soil sampling was emphasised and the application of slurry to fields that need P & K at the right time, at the right rate using the correct equipment. From your soil analysis you can then top up crop needs after slurry has been applied.

The four main grazing systems of set stocking, rotational, strip and paddock grazing that could be used on farm were evaluated and the advantages and disadvantages of each highlighted. At the end of the evening the group looked at a field being grazed by cows and calves and discussed the suitability of the area for paddock grazing. A demonstration of the plate meter for measuring grass was given. The group were shown how online technology can be used to generate a grass wedge which allows you to make decisions about the quantity of feed available on the grazing platform and provides an estimation of the number of grazing days ahead. The wedge is simple to use as it provides a visual representation of what is actually available on farm.

Next in the programme of events for this group is a visit to a farm that has successfully implemented a paddock grazing system.