You are viewing 1 of your 2 free articles

You’ll need to join us by becoming a member to gain more access.
Already a Member?

Login Join us now

The importance of testing grass before turnout


It is important to know the nutritional content of swards, so test before turnout.

Twitter Facebook

Turnout will introduce the long awaited opportunity to slash costs by making milk from grass and cutting out bought-in feeds, but in reality there are other issues to consider.

Veterinary nutritionist Debby Brown says it is important to consider grass quality.

“We are just recovering from a winter which broke the 500mm rain barrier – the second wettest on record. As such some grazing swards will have suffered from waterlogging while in many areas grass is quite simply wet.

“The warm winter may have encouraged growth, but the wet soil is slow to fully warm up and in many cases swards will be short of energy.

“To find out how much milk you can realistically take from grazed grass, analyse your swards pre-turnout.”

Dr Brown says the analysis is likely to return with grass dry matter (DM) content anywhere from 14-20 per cent DM which, in feed value terms, is a massive range.

“For example, you can expect to realise just maintenance plus five litres with grazed grass analysing at 14 per cent DM, compared to 13.8 litres from top quality swards analysing at 20 per cent DM.”


Considering the range of variations, Dr Brown says it is going to be crucial to know the quality and quantity of feed you are turning the cows on to in order to maintain targets – both yield, constituent value and fertility.

“If grass is in energy deficit then it will be necessary to feed a buffer.” (See table).

Dr Brown says it generally takes about three weeks for bugs in the rumen to adapt to the significant diet change at turnout, so this change should be managed gradually.

“A few hours of on/off grazing allows the herd to graze in what may be suboptimal conditions and adjust to grazing slowly.”

She also says the challenge to the rumen will increase as the proportion of grass in the diet increases.

“Grass can also be high in crude protein and have low levels of neutral detergent fibre, plus potentially high or variable sugars. All of this places cows at risk of sub-acute rumen acidosis, which has a negative impact on cows’ performance and fertility.”


Test before turnout

Fresh grass DM (per cent) 14 16 18 20
Grass silage buffer: 10.5MJ/kg DM, 13 per cent CP, 30 per cent DM 2.5kg 2kg 1.5kg 1kg
Maize silage buffer: 11.0 MJ/kg DM, 8 per cent CP, 30 per cent DM 3kg 2.5kg 1.7kg 1kg
Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

More News

Twilight Texels see 5,000gns

The Twilight Texel sale, Carlisle, saw a top price of 5,000gns achieved for a shearling gimmer from the Arkle and Ellenvalley flocks from G. Wilkinson, Cumbria.

Panda herd sells to 18,000gns high at Carlisle Black and Whites

The 30th anniversary of the premier dairy sale at Carlisle saw 33 heifers sell above the 4,000gns mark, with a lot from Molly Westwood’s Panda herd, Somerset, leading the trade at 18,000gns.

Blue Texels sell well at Carlisle Sapphire sale

Blue Texels went under the hammer at Carlisle in the Sapphire sale, which saw a top price of 4,500gns achieved for a shearling gimmer from the Whatmore flock.

30 day restrictions in place to protect poultry from avian flu

Poultry farmers have been urged to keep their birds indoors to help protect them from a strain of avian flu which is circulating in mainland Europe.

Young sires increase the genetic gap with proven Holsteins

The young genomic sires list published on Tuesday by AHDB Dairy provides clear evidence of the speed of genetic progress within the Holstein breed.
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds