Grass growth in 2023 studied through Welsh project

Data from the Farming Connect Welsh Pasture Project has shown that grass production in Wales in 2023 exceeded previous years, but managing it was challenging.

High levels of rainfall had caused very difficult grazing conditions for some farms, according to the project figures.

Thirty-nine dairy, beef and sheep farmers, farming a range of different land types and systems across Wales, have been measuring their pasture regularly for the project since September 2020. 

That data, which provided a snapshot of grass production across Wales, shows that on average dairy farms grew 13.4tDM/ha and beef and/or sheep farms 8tDM/ha. 

Siwan Howatson, head of technical at Farming Connect, said this is higher than production reported in 2022 when data from that year showed 10t DM/ha achieved by dairy farms and 6.8t DM/ha by beef and/or sheep farmers.

However, where there was a parallel with 2022 was in the large variance in pasture growth rates throughout different regions of Wales, she added.

Grass growth had peaked in the middle of May at a weekly average of 86.1kg DM/ha.

After this peak in growth came a trough as, after an extended dry period, what followed was a summer of exceptional rainfall – one of the wettest ever recorded in the UK.

Siwan said the Welsh Pasture Project data had been useful in informing decision making on other farms in each of the regions, from determining stocking rates to making weekly management decisions.

Sharing ideas

Among the Welsh Pasture Project monitor farmers is Andrew Giles, who produces milk from a herd of 550 New Zealand Friesian cows at Maesllwch Home Farm, Glasbury.

Mr Giles said he joined the project because he understands the value in sharing information and ideas.

“There are many farmers, myself included, who have been measuring and monitoring grass for a good number of years. If we can encourage others to do that through the Welsh Pasture Project and to utilise that information then this project has been successful.’’

For monitor farmer Huw Williams, of Ffordd Las, near Ruthin, who anticipates even greater pressure on farms to produce more from less going forward, being part of the project had been very beneficial in helping his business achieve that goal.

“By sharing data, I can see what others are growing and I can bounce ideas off those other like-minded farmers.’’

Roadshow on grazing management

Emily Grant, an independent consultant and sheep farmer from Perthshire, will be doing a roadshow across Wales. She specialises in helping sheep and beef producers develop resilient pasture-based farming systems.  

The roadshow will focus on all things related to grazing management, from rotational grazing, management of herbal leys, getting started with measuring grass in 2024 and outwintering options for sheep and cattle to reduce winter costs. 

Emily is open to discuss what you want to change about your systems, and how grazing management can help you achieve those aims in 2024.  

The host farmers will also share their grazing management journey with you and their plans and aims for the 2024 grazing season. 

Dates of meetings:


Host Farm – Penporchell Isa, Henllan, Denbigh, LL16 5DD

Time- 14:00-16:00


Host farm- Blaenglowon Fawr, Talgarreg, Llandysul SA44 4EX

Time- 14:00-16:00


Host Farm- Weobley Castle, Llanrhidian, Swansea SA3 1HB

Time- 14:00-16:00

Dairy grassland management meetings will follow in March, keep an eye on the What’s On page on the Farming Connect website for more information on the up and coming meetings.

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