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Grass Mix Allows Cumbrians to Farm New Zealand Style

10 September 2014

UK – A seed mixture designed to maximise grazing period has led to increased profitability by allowing earlier turnout on a North Cumbria farm.

Andrew and Margaret Smith, near Brampton, have been trialling BarForage Dairy Grazer since March 2012 on their 630 acre holding to support their New Zealand approach to getting milk from grass.

The Barenbrug grass seed mixes Dunluce (35 per cent) and Tyrella (65 per cent) and allows the Smiths 420 cow herd out at grass for 300 days per year.

For the Smiths, spring grazing starts on a 40-day rotation quickly reverting to a 21 day rotation once growth equals demand.

This system is stretched to 25 to 30 days in periods when drought limits growth or later in the season when growth slows.

Grazing starts at a cover of around 2,800 kg of dry matter per hectare and is grazed down to around 1,500 kg in early season, which is eased to 1,600 kg in the second half of the season.

The Smiths’ cows are currently producing 5,100 litres of milk of which maintenance plus 3,500 litres comes from grazed grass.

Andrew Smith said: “The New Zealand style we’ve adopted over the last 12 years makes it essential that grass is ready for an early spring turnout.

"We also need to ensure that cattle can graze throughout the season – right until the end of the year. BarForage Dairy Grazer has excellent resilience and remains good through autumn and into the first phase of winter – meaning we only need to start adding supplements on the shoulders of the season and when demand is greater than growth.

"It’s a great mixture that fits well with our pasture-based approach to milk production.”

 

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