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Alex Brewster

Local livestock farmers who want to find out more about how to make the most out of their grassland through the use of multi-species swards are invited to attend a Better Grazing meeting in Dunkeld on Friday 12 July hosted by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

The main aim of the event, according to Dr Heather McCalman, Knowledge Transfer Specialist at QMS, is to ensure attendees leave the meeting with a better understanding about how multi species swards, that include a range of grasses, clovers, and other crops can benefit soil and livestock throughout the season.

“Although perennial ryegrass is the highest yielding and highest quality grass in the UK, there are other species available including red and white clovers and other crops that farmers can use to meet   livestock needs, improve soil health and help the bottom-line.

 “What works for one farm might not be suitable on another. But I encourage all farmers, whether you have dabbled in a white clover ley or are an experienced multi-species grazier, to attend this Better Grazing group meeting in Dunkeld.  Not only will you have the opportunity hear first-hand from a very experienced grazier but will also get the chance to see multi species swards, clover leys and other grazing crops at the practical farm visit.”

Perthshire farmer Alex Brewster, in partnership with his parents Alastair and Morag, runs 3200 hectares of upland and hill near Dunkeld and will be speaking at the event.

“’We have found the further we move away from monocultures the more success we have had especially in terms of feed value. The more species we have included the more resilient we have found establishment, growth and utilisation of the crops to be. We have stopped trying to maximise the yield potential but move to optimising the feed values to the stock through multi species which make the forage flexible and resilient to the changing weather patterns.”

The meeting will begin at 10:15am at Birnam Arts and Conference Centre, Station Road, Birnam PH8 0DS before moving onto the practical farm visit at Rotmell farm that will leave attendees better equipped to try different pasture species to suit their own farms. The meeting will include an overview of the benefits and issues of the main species available for grazing swards, covering grasses and herbs as well as legumes like red and white clovers.

Helen Mathieu, Area Manager for Germinal GB who has many years’ experience working with farmers and merchants formulating and managing seeds mixtures, will be the key speaker at the meeting.

Helen joined Germinal GB in 2005 and a major part of Helen’s role is to work alongside livestock farmers to help maximise returns from forage by maintaining a focus on the production, management and utilisation of forage.

“The potential benefits of a multispecies forage approach to both livestock health and performance as well as the potential soil enhancement features are widely acknowledged. What is less well understood is which type of species (legume, herb or grass) will grow where, how you establish and then manage it within the challenges of your farming system.  This series of meetings will help us all identify the potential challenges and opportunities for multispecies forages in your area,” said Mrs Mathieu.

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

Attendance is free and lunch will be provided. Please ensure you have clean, disinfectable footwear for the farm visit.

Places at these meetings can be reserved on the Eventbrite booking website (search for QMS Better Grazing) or by contacting Laura Strang at QMS direct on 01315105476 or lstrang@qmscotland.co.uk