Dealing With The Dry Spell

UK - The ongoing lack of rainfall and poor grass growth is a significant concern for livestock producers. However EBLEX livestock scientist Dr Liz Genever points out that careful management and forward planning can reduce the impact on animal performance.
calendar icon 6 July 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

"The exceptionally dry start to the year has had a significant effect on swards, with our GrassWatch project showing grass growth around the country is way behind where we would expect it to be," said Dr Genever.

"There is no quick-fix solution to keeping animals well-fed when the grass isn't growing, however vigilant monitoring and following EBLEX management guidelines can help ensure that the detrimental effects on livestock performance are kept to a minimum."

Bales of straw placed in the field provide a good indication of supplementary feed requirement for cattle - if straw intake exceeds two kg per head per day additional feed is required.

However, producers must be careful not to focus purely on the immediate needs of their stock according to Dr Genever.

"Farmers are reporting reductions in silage yields of between 25 and 40 per cent compared to last year, and they are concerned about the quality of the second cut," she said.

"It is therefore particularly important to get forage analysed and use this information to formulate a feed plan, considering options such as planting a catch crop if necessary and if soil moisture allows.

"It is also a good time to investigate the potential of drought-resistant forages, such as chicory and cocksfoot."

EBLEX Action for Profit sheets on drought awareness and preventing heat stress offer producers further practical advice and can be downloaded from  

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