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Helen Mathieu

 Local livestock farmers who are looking to learn 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 Laurencekirk on Thursday 11 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 and clovers, can benefit soil and livestock.

“Although perennial ryegrass is the highest yielding and highest quality of grass in the UK, there are other species available including red and white clovers and other grasses that farmers can use to benefit soil and livestock.

 “What works for one farm might not work for 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 meeting. Not only will you have the opportunity hear first-hand from an experienced grazier of clover-based swards but also get the chance to see some of the more unusual species that have been sown at the trial plots as part of a sward diversification research project at James Hutton Institute.”

Donald Barrie, farm manager at Glensaugh for the James Hutton Institute, is looking forward to sharing his experience of using clover rich ley to improve production at Glensaugh.

“Our clover rich swards grow digestible protein rich forage that boosts lamb growth rates and reduces our reliance on inorganic Nitrogen. Clover is also a persistent and tough suppressor of weeds; these robust swards are sustained through careful grazing, resting and feeding and underpin lamb production at Glensaugh.”

The meeting, which will begin at Glensaugh James Hutton Institute Farm Laurencekirk AB30 1HB at 10:15am, will include a practical farm visit that will leave attendees better equipped to try different pasture species to suit their own farm.  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