Forage Field Wales

Published 15 April 15

A tight 42.8 hectares grazing block for his 220 Holstein cows, of which about a third are heifers, are two of the challenges faced by Edward Morgan, who is hosting the RABDF/DairyCo/BGS Forage Field event on Thursday 23 April at Carreg  y Llech, Mold in Flintshire.  

The farm lies at an altitude of about 26m (850ft) and can be both wet and cold and early spring growth cannot be guaranteed. Four seasons ago, the Morgans made the transition from an all-year-round to an autumn block calving herd in an attempt to maximise the use of grazed grass when it’s available. More tracks have been created, with stones quarried from the farm, to optimise access to grazing and, in January, milk from forage was 34%, while the yield increased to 8223l per cow from 7950l in 2014.

The whole farm has been soil tested, enabling Ed to optimise the use of nutrients from slurry and target fertiliser purchases more carefully. Seeking to alleviate soil compaction is also important in maintaining good growth. Most slurry is spread by trailing shoe as part of the farm’s Glastir agreement; this means N is better utilised and sward contamination is reduced.

At the same time careful use of reseeding ensures each acre performs as well as it can. He is also investigating the best ways to reseed for his farm, and has tried different approaches, including no-plough methods as well as ploughing. The tight grazing block means a quality sward is important.

At the Forage Field event, Elaine Jewkes of BGS and Richard Davies DairyCo extension officer team leader will be leading the topics to be discussed on the day:

  • Soil analysis, back to basics
  • Reseeding, optimise sward quality and target utilised grass, cut or grazed – Helen Mathieu, Germinal Seed House
  • Transition to autumn block calving, simplifying systems to maximise forage utilisation
  • System Management – Phil Clarke.

For more information and to book a place, click here.