ME results slightly lower than previous seasons

Published 11 October 13

The 2013 DairyCo Forage for Knowledge figures collected to date show that, apart from the month of April, ME results were 0.4 MJ/kg DM lower than previous years.

With ME quality following the trend of previous year’s results (figure 1) and remaining pretty consistent from February to September, this drop could well be a result of a biological change in the plant due to the stress of last summers’ poor weather and the hard winter we experienced, says Piers Badnell, DairyCo extension officer.

Figure 1

ME results

Despite these lower ME levels, we have again seen this year that well-managed grazing can consistently provide 12 ME throughout the season, and the opportunity is there for farmers to utilise this high quality feed, whatever their system.

This year’s 10 DairyCo Forage for Knowledge farms also show that grass growth rates suffered considerably at the beginning of the season, with March and April growth down two thirds on rates between 2010 and 2012 (Figure 2).

Figure 2

GG results

However, despite good growth rates later in the season (May and June growth was up 16% on average compared with previous years), the poor spring growth and drought conditions in July will mean that overall grass growth this season will be down for many people.

John Owen, who farms in Carmarthen, confirms this: “We suffered so badly with grass production at the beginning of the year (we were down two tonnes by the end of May) that I’d be really surprised if we make up that deficit this year, even with the good growth we’ve had over the summer.”  

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