By Poppy Frater, SAC sheep and grassland specialist

Grazing management now will impact spring grass quality and quality next year. The best turn out fields, silage fields or lambing fields will benefit from the following practise: graze tight and rest.

Grazing the base of the sward now to remove the dead material will lead to better quality spring growth. This can be done with unmated ewe lambs or the ewe flock three weeks after rams are removed.

The key is to use a stock class with low demand and low impact on the soil to tidy up the grass for you. Ewes that are in good condition three weeks post tupping can be put on a diet, their requirements are low at this point so they can be put to work. Graze down to 3cm and then remove for the rest of the winter.

Ideally, this grazing interval should be no more than one week; this is where electric fencing to reduce field sizes is beneficial.

The rest that follows is critical. Grass growth over winter is slow, it requires a 90-100 day rest period for optimal spring growth. Therefore, fields grazed mid-November, should not be returned to before mid to end of February.

For lambing or turn-out fields, they can be grazed once more to 4-5 cm five weeks before their use – this will remove the winter dormant material, encouraging spring grass growth.

Whether you set stock or rotationally graze, this practise will benefit spring grass production in the fields required most. For those with greater interest in grazing methods, we are hosting a conference at the Dewars Centre in Perth on November 25, get in touch for more information: