Forage crops sown under the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) can be grazed since 1 December.

The yield of crops is said to be significantly above normal levels due to earlier sowing and higher than normal temperatures.

As such, many farmers are keen to start grazing these areas while there are suitable conditions for high utilisation.

Management is key to letting animals get accustomed to the crop and preventing digestive issues.

This can be best achieved, where possible, by letting animals on to the crop for a few hours each day with access to a lie-back area and increasing the duration of grazing daily, while another option where a lie-back area is not available is to offer a forage source.


Utilisation will be optimised by offering the crop in a strip or paddock-grazing system using temporary electric wire or netting.

The secret to implementing this is having a good shock in the fence at the outset. If animals are trained to the fence at the start, they will be far less likely to breach the fence than if the fence is poorly erected or electrified when animals are first faced with it.

Management issues

In terms of grazing lambs destined for slaughter, clipping the belly region and tail-end of lambs will help in adhering to the clean livestock policy down the line.

Where lambs are grazing forage crops, they should ideally have belly wool clipped to have a better chance of remaining compliant with the clean livestock policy.

Crop utilisation will also be helped by grazing the wettest area of the field while conditions are favourable.

In general, offering a longer feed face rather and a narrower depth of crop will provide better utilisation than a narrower feed face and a wider allocation. This, of course, has to suit the shape of the field.

Crops should be delayed from grazing when there is heavy frost until a thaw has occurred, as there is a greater danger of higher nitrate levels and nitrate poisoning if grazed when the crop is frozen. A light frost will generally not be a problem.

Read more

Watch: managing forage crops – calculating the yield

Top tips for grazing forage crops

Managing the transition to fodder crops

Getting the most out of forage crops

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