Good grass is the foundation of every livestock enterprise and the quality of swards whether for cutting or grazing, can have a huge impact on margins and profitability. Unfortunately, it is difficult to accurately measure production from grass and falls in production often go unnoticed resulting in increased purchases of bought-in feed which could have been avoided.
Every grassland farmer is aware that grass yields decline as the sward ages. The rate of decline is influenced by many different factors and will vary from farm to farm but through time the sown species gradually die out and are replaced by unproductive and poor quality natural and weed grasses. On average after 7 or 8 years, only around 60% of the sown species are still present with the remaining 40% as bare ground or unproductive weed species. This decline in sown species has a huge impact on yield, forage quality, the response to fertiliser and the cost of production of both grazed and cut grass, as can be seen in the table below;
In simple terms, every single acre performing at 75% capacity needs the equivalent of a tonne of barley to fill the gap between 75% and 100% and with many grass fields performing at significantly less than 75% of their potential, unnecessary purchased feed bills can rapidly escalate.