Recent rain showers have seen much of Scotland green-up over this last week, with strong grass growth reported from the South West to Shetland.

However not all the country has been recording good levels of dry matter produced in parks, with some farms eating into winter stocks to keep livestock going. The Scottish Farmer spoke to two of the country's leading grassland farmers on how they are coping with the conditions this summer.

Graeme Lofthouse, of Bankhouse near Stow in the Scottish Borders, said: “We have probably had 10mm yesterday and first significant rain we have had since early May. We were cutting second cut silage today and we had to leave big chunks of the field as it was too burnt. To cope with the dry we have weaned lambs and sold cast ewes early too.

“We were actually ahead in April for grass growth. Then May wasn’t too bad but in June the dry weather really kicked in, and it has been poor right into July. A couple weeks ago we were down to 18kg DM/ha and I have a farm demand of 37.5kg DM/ha. Since then it has picked up thanks to a few light showers to around 30kg DM/ha.

“Having said that the lamb growth has been good, it just shows that sheep like dry conditions. They are averaging a growth of 310g per day which is up on the 290g which we recorded last year. We are doing all we can to keep the grass in front of them. We dropped a second cut silage field just to keep the grass there for them.

“On a positive note, there is more rain forecast which hopefully means we have turned the corner. There is plenty heat in the ground so if we get the moisture the grass will jump up. With us grazing hard the grass will respond when conditions are right, the trick is keeping on top of the stem. We have not topped or mowed anything this year. We just use our cows as tactical grazers.

"We have plenty clover in our sward. The perfect symmetry is to have 30% clover which then becomes more digestible as the season goes on, just at the grass doesn’t."

Meanwhile Michael Blanche, of Culteuchar Farm near Perth, said: “I have had a dry summer and a lot drier than my neighbours. John Ritchie along the road at Montalt Farm is recording twice the grass growth of me. On Friday I measured my grass for the first time in nine days and it was doing about 8kg of DM/ha when in normal conditions I would hope to be doing 45-50kg DM/ha. On average we are down around 500kg of dry matter per hectare compared to last year. This is the equivalent of 90t of feed less for the 64 cattle, 180 hoggs, 750 ewes and lambs in the fields.

“To manage the poor grass growth we have sent 400 lambs to the first store sale at UA and the trade was good. We were selling between 27 to 35kg lambs with a top of £90/head and an average of £80/head. I have also had to feed some of the cows silage this summer to get by.

“But we had 34mm of rain on Saturday and the change in the fields is amazing. I can see it all coming back to life. I have reduced demand for the grass and there is some species rich grass I can graze as opposed to making silage. Plus I don’t use any fertiliser so that is one less price rise to worry about.”

SAC grassland specialist Poppy Frater said: “The weather has been very localised this summer. If you are short of grass then consider weaning early and prioritise the animals needing the best grass. Ideally you wouldn’t be grazing swards below 5cm. Farmers who have been rotational grazing earlier in the season appear to be more on top of their residual management and able to leave a bit more grass behind.”