What Is The Best Herbal Grazing Ley?

With wholecrop harvesting now well underway and thoughts of autumn approaching, it is time to start thinking about your reseeding options for the coming season, and interest has been growing slowly over the last couple of years in herbal leys, and more recently regenerative agriculture.

However, while herbal leys are sold as GS4 compliant (for your Countryside Stewardship requirements), not all are created equal if you also want to be using the mix for maximising forage production on farm.

A recent discussion with a couple of consultants recently made this apparent when discussing herbal leys.

A consultant’s client had been using, successfully, a herbal ley mixture for forage production and I was asked to look at what we had to offer compared to what their client was already using.

An initial look at pricing indicated that what DBL had to offer was slightly higher in price than the corresponding mix, but then the question was why?

When I looked further into the actual make-up of the mixes, it became apparent that the cheaper mix had been designed for environmental purposes, to fit the GS4 environmental requirements, but not been designed to maximise the forage potential.

The other mix contained rye grasses and red clovers that were no longer on the recommended list as well as no white clover.

It was a good mix, for what it was designed to do, to be an environmental mix, it had not been designed to maximise feed potential. The percentages of grasses, legumes and herbs in the mix differed from the grazing ley affecting the feed quality/analysis.

When you took these factors into account the mix that we had to offer, for grazing, was the better value mix despite the higher price.  We also offer a cheaper environmental GS4 mix, but you need to ensure you are getting a mix that is the best fit for what you want it to do. 

Herbal leys will change every time you look at them, depending on the time in the season and the type of season.  In this current hot weather these mixes would be coping better than the tradition grass mixes because of the deeper roots on some of the species in the mix.  On the other extreme they usually cope better in waterlogged conditions than a tradition grass mix. Some species within the mix also tolerate the cold conditions so extending the grazing season at both ends.

Due to this DBL is currently involved, with our seed supplier, in a trial with a group member to see which of half a dozen different herbal & grass mixes copes better in a more waterlogged environment.  The field being used for the trial has already been flooded half a dozen times this year! So the different mixes have certainly been having a baptism of water!

The feedback from those who are in their first season of using herbal leys for grazing have been incredibly positive with the comment that “you can always tell when the cows have been on the herbal leys as the milk in the tank always goes up!”

If you want to try them for yourself, but are not sure, why not come along to either the Honiton or Gillingham & Shaftesbury shows this year where you can enter in the draw for the chance to try an acre pack on your farm and see if it works for you.

If you would like to discuss seed call our FAR registered Dairy Nutritionist & CowSignals® Master Andrew Jones on 07717 44288 or email andrew@dblbuyinggroup.co.uk