Advice for beef farmers: Beware of lush grass performance setbacks

Grazing excessively low covers of lush, high-nitrogen grass is not ideal at any time, but is common place on many farms at present.

It is almost unavoidable, as most have had to chase grass around the farm after the recent dry spell.

Growth has picked up since the weekend’s rain, but grass dry matters have plummeted into the low teens.

This type of grass causes several issues that need to be addressed.

  • Lower dry matter grass provides intake challenges for all types of stock. More fresh grass must be consumed, to maintain the desired animal performance from grass.

As dry matter diminishes, performance will reduce, unless supplementation is introduced.

  • A reduction in sunshine hours also contributes to low dry matter, along with a drop off in energy per kg of dry matter consumed.
  • Autumn grass is very lush and low in physical fibre, meaning that its passage through the animal’s digestive system is too fast for them to extract the optimum amount of nutrients.

Coupled with this is the fact that the protein content of autumn grass remains high, resulting in excessively loose dungs.

Dairy farmers can measure the effect of this lush material with regular butter fat and more recently milk urea nitrogen (MUN) results, along with assessments of dung consistency.

Low fats indicate poor rumen function.

Loose dungs with bubbling also indicate poor digestive efficiency, which will result in underperformance of the stock affected.

In beef stock, it is harder to get up-to-date data which will indicate inefficient digestion, other than by dung observations and grass quality results.

Obviously, those that weigh stock on a regular basis will be able to establish if there has been a dip in performance.


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