NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...  (Read 415 times)

YawningAngel

  • Joined Jun 2019
How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...
« on: January 07, 2020, 03:22:57 pm »
Hi & Happy New year!

I've just moved into a property that will become our smallholding over the next few years. This incorporates 3 fields of grass, totalling a little over 6 acres.

The previous owner occasionally rented the fields out for grazing (sheep, ponies, etc) but not within the last year or two. As a result the fields are all covered in long, rather soggy  grass - not particularly suitable (I think) as grazing at the moment.

Since I'd like (for the next few years at least) to rent these fields out...what would be best course of action to get them in a fit state..?

  • Can I do something now.. or would it be better to wait until the Spring?..Summer?
  • Pay a local farmer to cut/bail the grass/hay
  • buy/rent the equipment to do it myself ...topper..? Hay rake..? Bailer?
  • something else...?
  • nothing..?

BTW - are there any good online resources where I could read up on this subject?

I guess paying someone would be quickest and cheapest, but I wouldn't learn much from that approach.
Doing it myself would be much more complex (and expensive!!) but I would be investing in my future land management skill set...

Thanks for any advice! I feel a long learning curve coming on!!

cheers

Paul
Voss Electric Fence

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2020, 03:27:50 pm »
Get a few store cattle or dry suckler cows on it, they will knock it into shape.  Follow with sheep and or native ponies - but not for too long! - and you will be amazed how well it comes back.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

sandspider

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Bristol
Re: How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2020, 03:59:12 pm »
Following this with interest as I'm in a similar position.

So far, I've just mowed parts of my paddock with a topper behind a little tractor. I can't have animals in it as I've got fruit trees, a wildflower meadow etc, so all I've done over the past 3 years or so is mow most of it on a sporadic basis, generally from April to September ish.
Where I mow, the grass is quite green and lush, but where I don't it's getting a bit tussocky, mole hilly etc. I think I will harrow this year, to remove old thatch, flatten the mole hills and tussocks, break up the rougher grass a bit. Hopefully that will be all I need to do...

I may also move the cutters lower in my topper as the grass is always quite long - though this risks catching the blades on something as my paddock isn't too flat. Maybe better to leave them as they are until after harrowing, if I can get hold of a decent harrow!

Rupert the bear

  • Joined Jun 2015
Re: How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2020, 05:56:27 pm »
Get a few store cattle or dry suckler cows on it, they will knock it into shape.  Follow with sheep and or native ponies - but not for too long! - and you will be amazed how well it comes back.
This 100% n no need to put machinery over it , extra work, fuel and a bit of compaction, where as livestock will manure it and be gentle to the land, apart from the horses congregating by the gate !!

YawningAngel

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2020, 12:49:38 pm »
Thanks both for your replies.. I'll start the search to see if I can find someone who wants to keep a few cattle on the land.

sandspider

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Bristol
Re: How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2020, 01:10:59 pm »
Whereabouts in the country are you?

If you're looking after the livestock yourself, I'd think it would be more work than the odd mow with a tractor... Fencing, feeding, watering, worming, checking etc.? And more of a tie too, my tractor doesn't mind if I go away for a week! 

YawningAngel

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: How to (or even whether to) maintain grass fields...
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2020, 09:17:13 am »
Sandspider,

I'll be looking to rent the fields to someone local, for grazing - at least in the short to medium term. They are already fenced & have water.

The PO used to rent them out to a local man to keep his ponies, but for the last year at least, they have been empty.

Longer term, I plan to use them for my own livestock - probably sheep.

Currently, I'm just looking for options to keep the fields 'ticking over', while I set up the rest of the Smallholding.

My general plan is...
  • Establish Veg production - Greenhouse / Poly tunnel(s) / outside beds
  • Add chickens for eggs & meat
  • Add pigs (seasonal)
  • Add 'other' livestock - sheep?

I'm looking a a 5+ year time-line for all of that...(I have loads to learn!!)

cheers

 

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