Increased stocking rates particularly on dairy farms has meant that herbage output is more critical now than ever before to ensure animals are fully fed and profitable. The current and ongoing inclement weather has meant that fodder reserves are now depleted on most farms throughout the country. Fodder shortages have occurred many times before however, the big difference this year is that it has happened following a very good grass growing year in most parts of the country.
The poor weather conditions since last autumn and poor cash flow in 2016 has meant that there is now a three year reseeding backlog on many farms. With increasing stock rates across the country, it is vital that farmers continue to focus on growing more grass to ensure that livestock are fully fed and that a continued supply of high quality forage will be available throughout the year. Farmers who measure paddocks have reported that in most cases, top performing swards on their farms outperform the poorest performing ones by up to 100%. New swards are the most economical way to improve animal performance and maximise a farms potential, however, according to Agritech’s Sales Director John Kenny, many farmers are under the impression that if they take out a field for reseeding that they will not recoup the lost production in the same year.
Kenny says ‘Having spoken to many farmers recently, the response is that they cannot afford to reseed as they want to keep fields in production in order to bank more fodder. However, this is not true, as where the field is reseeded before mid-summer, the extra yield of the reseeded sward will offset the production lost when the field was idle’. There is a need to do as much reseeding as possible, not just for economic reasons but also in order to maximise the amount of grass grown to sustain stocking rates for the future.
It is essential that farmers concentrate on returning sward to production as quickly as possible. The target is 60 days between the grazing pre reseeding to having animals back in the reseeded field again. This is a very realistic target and when achieved it means that there is less than five weeks down time for the sward. The benefits of reseeding will outweigh the time lost in production as new pastures have proven to be higher yielding, have higher digestibility and intakes far exceed that of older pastures.