Sowing the Seeds of Success Through Improved Grassland Management

John Howie

The meeting, held at Girtridge Farm, Dundonald, Poppy Frater from SAC Consulting will return to Girtridge to see how the grazing system there has progressed since the introduction of rotational grazing.

Ms Frater said that it is important to manage grass to maintain quality throughout the grazing seasons ensuring swards are kept at optimum height or cover.

“One of the changes the Howie family introduced was rotational grazing cattle and sheep. With this system, John has the chance to manage grass in an effective way that allows rest periods which are important in maintaining grass quality,” she said.

John Howie runs the 140-hectare Girtridge farm, the North Ayrshire Monitor farm, in partnership with his mother and sister. They currently finish around 230 cattle all year round, some housed and others from grass. The Howie family established eight, two hectare paddocks using electric fencing where they rotate a group of finishing cattle every few days, aiming for a target rotation of 21 days.

Ms Frater will also touch on the value of feed budgeting and forecasting growth to help meet cattle and sheep needs through the season.

At the meeting on Wednesday 5 June, Mr Howie will give a farm update with a review on finished cattle performance and on the grass mixture trial at Girtridge.

“Following the changes made to the housing, adjustment of rations and grass allocation, the performance of the finishing cattle is being monitored to quantify the improvements and make any further changes to rationing,” said Mr Howie.

Keen to determine which grass seed mixtures work well at Girtridge, Mr Howie sowed six different mixtures and the group will have the opportunity to see which mixtures have worked best. Richard Bray from Agrovista will also lend a hand to review the barley crops to help determine the pros and cons of growing winter or spring barley.

Through improved grazing and grassland management, Mr Howie hopes to finish his stock quicker and reduce feed costs.

The North Ayrshire Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established across Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting at Girtridge Farm on Wednesday 5 June will begin at 10.30am. The group will visit the grazing cattle and sheep followed by presentations with an aim to finish at 3:00pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

For catering purposes, those interested in coming along should confirm attendance by calling 01292 525252 or emailing FBSAyr@sac.co.uk by Monday 3 June.