Grass growth and spring turn-out

At last we are starting to see some movement in the grass swards at Crichton.

Weekly measurements of grass height begins in late February, using a rising plate meter (pictured below, with a sample of grass).  The principle of the plate meter is to measure the compressed height of a sward, from which an estimate of  herbage mass of available grazing material can be calculated.  The meter consists of a horizontal metal disc, which moves up and down a central rod.  An automatic meter records the cumulative height (in 0.5cm graduations) and a counter keeps a check on the number of measurements taken.

Once we are sure that there is enough herbage mass, our Homegrown systems cows will be able to go outside.  Early in the grazing season they graze for one window between milkings (3 x a day) then when there is a more substantial wedge of grass this can increase to two windows’ grazing.  The twice-weekly measurement of grass height in our grazing paddocks at Crichton gives us the basis for making decisions around how much time the cows can spend grazing.

At the greater level of grazing the cows are fed a balancer ration in the shed overnight – this isn’t a traditional buffer, but a feely available TMR containing home-grown feeds that will balance the current very high protein of the grazed grass.  The main thing we want to be sure to provide is starch, to help to maintain milk protein content, so the overnight offering contains both maize silage and wheat.

For now, though, the hope is for the sun to shine and the ground to warm up a little more so that cows can be outside, enjoying the grass, as soon as possible.

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