Fane Valley Feeds visit AFBI Hillsborough

Date published: 22 May 2017

Area of Expertise:

During a recent trip to AFBI Hillsborough, the Fane Valley Feeds Technical and Sales Teams gained valuable experience from Dr Debbie McConnell in measuring and budgeting grass.

Commenting on the visit, Dr Hazel Gilmore noted “This recent training and our investment in technology, allows us the ability to assist in increasing grass growth and utilisation on farms”.

Dr McConnell explained “although NI data illustrates that milk from forage has reduced over the last 15 years, we do have the ability to grow excellent quality grass therefore, it makes sense to maximise its production potential and utilisation. Research from AFBI has highlighted that each extra tonne of grass utilised can increase profitability by £441 per ha per yr in dairy herds and £204 per ha per yr in beef herds”.

With grass quality varying significantly between farms, ensuring that grass is grazed at the correct stage will determine the level of milk production that grass can support. Research conducted at AFBI Hillsborough illustrates that the most profitable scenario is to adopt a “medium” level of production from grass with the expectation of approximately 22 litres/day in April/May and gradually reducing to 12 litres per day in the autumn.

AFBI’s advice on increasing grass growth and utilisation;

  • Measure grass covers and graze young, leafy swards to ensure intakes are of the highest quality.  This will maximise milk production from grazed grass. Paddocks should be grazed tightly to boost regrowth and quality in the next rotation, aim to achieve residuals of 1500kg DM per ha
  • Identify grass surpluses early by creating a grass budget and remove paddocks with very high covers for silage. Paddocks wtih covers over 3000kg DM per ha should be considered for removal via baling or silage.
  • Test grass quality, ideally using the AFBI Hillsborough HFIS service, to ensure optimum levels of milk from grass are achieved and avoid negative impacts on  body condition score, milk quality and reproductive performance.


Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DAERA and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies. 

AFBI's Vision is  to Advance the Local and Global Agri-food Sectors Through Scientific Excellence.

All media enquiries to AFBI Press Office

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