Livestock farmers around Scotland are invited to attend one of the five free “Get Set for Spring: Winter Grazing Strategies” meetings being organised by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) as part of its Better Grazing programme.

The meetings, which will be held throughout September, are expected to attract a large turnout of farmers, particularly after a very challenging 2018 grazing season.

The main aim for the events, according to Emily Grant, knowledge transfer specialist at QMS, is to ensure attendees leave the meeting confident about being able to plan for maximum spring pasture growth and make the best grazing management decisions through the winter to achieve this.

Planning ahead

“By planning ahead, there are a couple of options that farmers can use to extend the grazing season,” said Grant.

"Many farmers have also been sowing forage crops to help fill the gap. Planning now and being prepared for winter could help make the best use of the pasture and forage stocks you have.

“Winter is always a challenge for cattle and sheep producers as animal demand is always greater than grass growth rates and the weather can lead to challenging ground conditions.

Decisions made about autumn and winter grazing management can have a significant impact on early spring grass availability and could help to keep feed costs low.

“It’s important that the challenges of 2018 have as little impact on 2019 as possible,” she added.

Meetings

Anyone keen to make more from their grazing is welcome to attend the meetings – which will be held in Hawick, Kirkcudbright, Forres, Newburgh and Edzell.

Key areas to be covered will include:

  • Guidance on working out stock requirements;
  • Measuring grass and forage crop dry matter;
  • Target grazing guidelines; and
  • Some tactics for dealing with adverse weather conditions.

Rhidian Jones of RJ Livestock Systems is a sheep, beef and grassland specialist and will be the key speaker at the meetings.

Jones said: “Autumn and early winter is a crucial time for managing grass to set up the farms for the spring. This year it is even more valuable given the season we have had.

It is important to allocate grass and forage as accurately as possible so most of it is utilised by stock, but to do this in such a way that fields are set up for spring with high-quality grass.

During the morning session, Jones will guide delegates through the key principles of winter grazing management, budgeting and planning.

Following lunch there will be a visit to a nearby farm to see and discuss the practicalities of managing grazing. All of the farms also have forage crops and managing stock on those crops will also be covered.

The meetings will be as practical as possible so that those attending will leave feeling confident to apply solutions that may apply on their own farms.

Now into its second year, the main objective of the QMS Better Grazing Groups is to improve livestock producers’ profitability through the better use of grazed grass.

The Better Grazing meetings will be held on the following dates:

  • Thursday, September 13: Mansfield House Hotel, Hawick;
  • Tuesday, September 25: The Selkirk Arms, Kirkcudbright;
  • Wednesday, September 26: Tayside Institute Community Centre, Newburgh, Fife;
  • Thursday, September 27: Ramnee Hotel, Forres;
  • Friday, September 28: The Panmure Arms Hotel, Edzell.

All five of the free meetings being held later this month will begin at 10:30am and finish at 3:30pm and lunch will be supplied.

Places at these meetings can be reserved online on Eventbrite or by contacting QMS directly on: 0131-5107920.