One of the best ways to improve the efficiency of feeding dairy cows is to increase the production of high quality forage on the farm. It is impossible to produce the best quality forage from poor quality pastures. The difference between top and poor quality silage is equivalent to at least an extra 0.5ppl in saved feed costs.
Over the last 30 years grass varieties on the Recommended List have seen average yield increases of up to 1.9 per cent per year and a total increase in D value of 10 points. What this means is that re-seeding with modern seed mixes will bring you increased production and quality, resulting in improved cow performance.
Once established and managed correctly, productive seed mixes have the potential to produce 10-11t/DM ha when grazed and 13-14t/DM ha when cut for silage. Typically, a new ley can produce 33 per cent more yield than a five-year-old ley in the first year and then 10 per cent more each year for the next 4 years – this could be worth up to £500 in extra feed per acre!
Re-seeding also provides the opportunity to remove weeds and unwanted grasses and introduce clover for protein and to save on purchased nitrogen.
Advantages to grass:
- Very digestible high energy feed
- Large bulk yields
- Highly palatable
- An on-farm protein source
- Grazed grass can be the cheapest feed
- Flexible cropping options, i.e. grazing or to produce a conserved feed
Do I need to re-seed?
Using the age of a ley to determine whether re-seeding is required is not ideal – it is far better to assess the percentage of ryegrass (or other sown species) in a sward. To do this, take examine areas of grass across the ley and count the different species within them. If there is less than 50 per cent of sown species in a sward then consider re-seeding.
Benefits of re-seeding:
- Increased quality, feed value and production
- Improved resistance to drought and disease
- Removal of weed grasses and unwanted plants
- The opportunity to include clover as a protein or to save on purchasing nitrogen
- Improved animal performance and nitrogen response
How do I choose seed mixtures?
Perennial ryegrass has seen more genetic advances than other grasses. There are big differences between varieties even on the Recommended Lists – as much as 1.2/acre yield disparity between the top and bottom rated varieties in some species. Therefore selecting the correct varieties is essential.
Kite specialists select a range of high performance grass seed mixtures each season for Advance Sourcing, to ensure that Advance clients can easily select the most appropriate mixtures for their needs. We have access to a range of high sugar Aber grass varieties that have been shown to have up to 50 per cent higher sugar levels than other grasses. This increase in water soluble carbohydrates provides more energy to the grazing animal which not only improves digestibility but also significantly enhances protein utilisation.
Call us on 01823 491238 to discuss your requirements.