Diverse swards for dairy herds

Twenty farmers met an ORC event on 9th October 2012 to view herb rich swards and “mob grazing” at Manor Farm, Chedworth, where Farm Manager Rob Richmond has established swards incorporating a variety of grasses, legumes and deep rooting herbs, to overcome the risks of drought on the dry Cotswold brash and boost soil organic matter. Rob’s approach also includes “mob grazing” with the 160 cow dairy herd, involving tight stocking on half day paddocks, with a 40 day rotation giving higher entry and exit heights than conventional grazing. In this way, more herbage is left behind, but the sward is “feeding the soil” as well as feeding the cows. The diverse herbage gives the cows plenty of choice and a wider range of nutrients than a simpler grass/clover mixture.

Farm based trials through the SOLID project will evaluate the establishment and performance of a similar herbage mixture on a variety of farms from spring 2013 onwards. Several farmers have already volunteered to take part, but there is still chance to get involved. Contact Katharine Leach for more information.

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