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NWF Weekly Grass Watch – 29th April 2022

Grass Growth

Grass growth has remained consistent this week with only a 3kg DM/ha/day increase to an average across GB of 59kg DM/ha/day. This is considerably higher than the same period last year which saw average growth rates of 36.6kg DM/ha/day. Regions that experienced the highest level of grass growth include Yorkshire and the East Midlands at 67 and 66kg DM/ha/day, respectively. Meanwhile, due to a long period of warm/dry conditions the East saw grass growth averages fall from 60 to 42kg DM/ha/day.

Milk Yield from Grazing (MYFG)

  • MYFG across GB has risen slightly this week to average M+6.1 litres/day thanks to a small increase in grass ME to average 12.2MJ/kg DM, a 0.2MJ increase on last week’s average figure. As expected, a large variation has been seen across regions with the Northwest at M+2.2 litres/day while Wales and West saw an average as high as M+8.0 litres/day.
  • Based on the GB average MYFG figure and potential DMI, cows on full-time grazing intaking a moderate 12.5kg DMI of grazed grass will require an additional concentrate supplementation of 4.3kg or 6.5kg based on an 11.5MJ/kg DM compound to achieve M+25 and M+30 litres/day, respectively.
  • As always, to ensure adequate supplementation, it is important for individual farms to analyse for MYFG to enable efficient ration balancing and maximise milk from grass.

Pre-cut NDF tracker

  • Average NDF content for the second half of this week has decreased slightly to 42.3% DM, which is still above the target of 38-40% DM and much higher than the average NDF level reported at the same period in 2021 of 32.8% DM. With average NDF levels remaining above the target levels throughout the season, we would encourage farmers to send in pre-cut samples promptly and consider starting their first cuts as grass continues to grow and mature. Similarly, to previous weeks, a range in NDF levels from 32.6 – 49.0%DM is reported, regionally the lowest average NDF levels were seen in the Northeast and the highest average NDF levels were seen in the East at 41.2 and 46.6% DM, respectively.
  • Average sugar levels have increased to 11.3% DM for the second half of this week, although a range can still be seen from 6.9 to 16.5% DM. All regions had average sugar levels between 10 and 12% DM, which is a slight increase compared with the first half of the week. Sugar levels below 10% DM are at risk of poor fermentation and unstable forages. If sugars are below 10% an additive designed for low sugar forage is recommended to ensure quality fermentation.
  • This week crude protein levels and nitrate levels have decreased slightly, averaging 20% DM and 181.5mg/kg (fresh weight), respectively. The highest average crude protein levels were reported in Scotland at 21.6% DM and the lowest average crude protein levels were reported in the East at 15.9% DM. The range in average nitrate levels across the regions has decreased slightly, however we have seen some sample reports at the maximum 2500mg/kg (fresh weight). It is important to monitor nitrate levels to ensure they remain below the 2500mg/kg maximum target and ideally below 1000mg/kg.
  • High nitrate levels above the target risks a poor fermentation process and consequently an unstable forage which may hinder animal performance.

Source:  Trouw Nutrition

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