Tag Archives: Grass Productivity

Pasture Planning

SPARE THE PLOUGH AND SPOIL THE NATURAL PASTURES! There is the view, if grass productivity declines, plough up, harrow to a fine seed bed and reseed, costing vast sums of money. We prefer to plan and implement the grassproductivity principles through precision well-designed, timed, rational grazing management principles and see the production increase naturally saving large sums of money. So paddock size and timing is tailor-made, and all soil improving should be regularly observed and monitored by soil testing. Signs of improvement will become evident in the volume of grass sward and varieties as the grassproductivity principles start to become established and more and more of the natural grasses and wild clover start to appear.

My sheep live entirely off grass, in very difficult and challenging conditions, however, by having the grassproductivity principles firmly established as my discipline, find that hour by hour, I can see the conditions in the cell and if modifications need to be made. Due to the heavy waterlogged clay soils and past damage to grass cover which affects productivity and the quality of the grazing, adjustments to the cells is easily made to compensate the problem while maintaining the holistic plan and structure. The other important aspect of grassproductivity is the quality of the forage being grazed by the stock which will vary in quality and quantity between say, 3000kgDM/ha and 1500kgDM/ha. The forage mineral reports taken between these levels indicate mineral differences which could effect their digestion. The grass forage mineral report taken from block 1at grass reading 2152kgDM/ha on the 6th May had the following results, Mg low, K high, Na very low, cation-anion balance high, Cu low, Zn very low, Co low, I low, Se low, Mo very high with relative copper antagonism very high. These are tell-tale signs of compacted soil where copper lock up is present.

These deficiencies will affect the flocks immune system, energy production, hormone system, vitamin production, blood production and reproduction. Deficient animals can scour, stunt growth and progressive loose condition, which initially may be missed if not carefully observed on a  day by day basis. In many cases the scouring is mistaken for worm infection and dosed unnecessarily. Most flocks I observe are scouring which I feel is a tell-tale sign of a forage imbalance. I have one ewe who is continually scouring and as a result, the flock has been drenched with a specific vitamin and mineral supplement and closely observed. Although the scouring has reduced in this ewe and all the other ewes are clean I feel the problem is in the nutrition of the grass. She being more sensitive is highlighting that there is a problem which through thorough research I have changed the lick to address the deficiencies the ewe is having difficulties with. A service we now provide is to take forage samples for analysis and assist the farmer by supplying the required mineral supplement in the form of drenches supported by correctly designed vitamin and mineral balancing licks. If more information is required, please do not hesitate to contact us.