Feeding animals is the single biggest cost on any livestock farm. But we can control what we feed animals. Grazed grass is by far cheaper than any other feed that we have available to us in Ireland. If grass isn’t making the diet, more expensive silage and conserved feed will have to fill the gap. Reseeding your grassland can ensure you get the more feed from your ground.
To know if you need to reseed you need to ask some questions. Are you are getting the most out of every paddock on our farms? Which of the following areas are holding back grass performance on your farm?
- Soil Fertility and fertiliser
- Grazing infrastructure
- Grazing management
- High levels of perennial ryegrass and reseeding
Now is the time to plan what paddocks should be reseeded in 2019. Paddocks that have low levels of perennial ryegrass will likely have shown up to be underperforming over the winter and spring. Recent soil tests for these paddocks should be checked for underlying soil fertility issues and reseeded to improve the perennial ryegrass content. Perennial ryegrass plants also have a purple base, so they can be easily identified.
Steps to take immediately
- Identify underperforming paddock for reseeding
- Locate recent soil test to check for underlying soil fertility issues or complete new soil test
- Any drainage or grounds work should be completed well in advance of reseeding to minimise turnaround time
- Purchase Glyphosate, insure sprayer is in working order and contractor is notified
Why the need for Reseeding
Grass reseeding is one of the best paying investments on a livestock farm, with a payback easily under 2 years. High perennial ryegrass swards will produce more quality feed. The below graph shows the difference in production between a 15% perennial ryegrass sward, typical of an old pasture and a 100% perennial ryegrass sward, typical of a newly reseeding sward. The dry matter production is vastly superior in the shoulders of the year in a newly reseeded sward, exactly when the farm needs it. Newly reseeding swards are more responsive to fertiliser and are more digestible, meaning improved animal performance.
Figure 1: Production difference between Sward 15% and 100 % perennial ryegrass
Varieties to consider for grazing swards in 2019
When investing in re seeding it is import to select the best seed to get the best return Only use varieties on the Irish recommended list. Other seed has failed to make that grade. When looking at the pasture profit index, look at the sub-indices that are relevant to your intended use. Pay attention to grazing information on varieties that is not yet included in the index
AstonEnergy, a late tetraploid, is a highly digestible varieties that should be a component in any grass mixture. What really sets AstonEnergy apart is that it is grazed out better than any other variety available. This means that the sward can regrow from a clean base each time, with no stem or dead material being carried over to the next grazing. When grass goes in the mouth of an animal it has the potential to make money. Grass that must be topped can make no money.
Meiduno is a higher yielding tetraploid with excellent spring growth and good quality. This truly makes are excellent complement to AstonEnergy bringing high yields and spring growth. Meiduno also has high performance for silage if required
Oakpark, is new late Diploid on the recommended list this year from the Teagasc breeding program in Carlow. It has excellent seasonal growth characteristics, good quality for a late Diploid and excellent silage yield should the sward be required for a cut of silage. OakPark also has very good ground cover which can be desirable in certain regions.
AstonKing comes from the same breeder as AstonEnergy. It is valuable in a grazing sward as it has the highest spring growth of all the late heading varieties on this year’s pasture profit index. It is new to the list this year so seed supply is limited.
Inclusion of clover should also be strongly considered. Clover offers increased feed value, improved animal performance and the potential to reduce dependence on chemical nitrogen. Newer medium leaf clovers mix through the grass more evenly thus reducing the risk of bloat.
A mix for intensive grazing swards
All of the above varieties are available the Diamond High Digestibility grass seed mix, available with and without clover. Key Traits are
- Unmatched Palatability with a high % tetraploid and AstonEnergy, the leading variety for grazing
- An easily grazed sward with high quality material drives Animal Performance
- Meiduno and AstonKing are the top late heading varieties for Spring Growth
- Meiduno and Oakpark have leading season Dry matter yield and silage performance if required
- Crusader clover has proven persistence under grazing, but this mix is also available without clover
- Due to the high proportion of tetraploid, high yields and excellent quality, this mix also works well under Zero-Grazing
Written by Pat Cashman B.AgriSc, PHD from Goldcrop. Pat will be a one of the guest speakers at our Grassland Information Evening on the 2nd of May in the Slieve Russell Hotel , Ballyconnell, Cavan at 7.30pm. Come to find out how you can make your grass seed work for you.