Developing grazing systems for beef producers


The project identified four grassland mentors who were already maximising grass and forage use and paired them with four English beef producers who wanted to significantly improve their grazing management (improvers). Mentors provided informal advice and support to their improver farms and farm visits between the mentor and improver farmers took place over the life of the project. Of the four improver farms recruited, three completed two grazing seasons whilst the fourth joined in the second year (replacing another farm), and therefore completed only one year on the project.

Each of the improver farms implemented a mixture of rotational grazing, reseeding and outwintering with the help of their mentors and consultants. The improver farms took regular grass growth measurements throughout the duration of the project with average yield improving significantly across all farms from 4.7tDM/ha in 2016 to 8.4tDM/ha in 2017, an increase of 79%.

Of the three suckler producers who completed two years on the project:

  • Days housed reduced on all farms, and two exceeded the target reduction of 20%, the remaining farms achieved a reduction of 15%
  • Stocking rates increased each year, exceeding the target of 20% target on two farms
  • Cattle growth rates increased across all farms
  • Gross margin per cow and per hectare also increased across all farms.

As a result of this project, targets for grassland management have been created (Table 1).

Table 1: Targets for producing beef from grass

Key performance indicator

Grass grown per hectare


Stocking rate per hectare

1.5 – 2.0 LSU

Daily liveweight gain across grazing season


Gross margin per hectare

£600 - £1000

Beef & Lamb
Project code:
01 October 2015 - 28 February 2018
AHDB Beef & Lamb
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:


61110005 - Final Report 2018

About this project

The Challenge:

There is growing interest from beef producers to graze cattle for more days, to gain more weight from grass and to understand the potential benefit of rotational grazing. The potential of grass and grazed forages in relation to growth rates for beef cattle is well-known but is often not realised on English farms. Very few beef producers measure and record grass and little work has been done on pasture cover targets at various times of the year. Through the introduction of efficient grazing systems costs of production could be reduced and the kg of liveweight produced per hectare could be increased.


Aims and Objectives:

  • Develop a network of four English beef producers who are already maximising the use of grass and forage to use as mentors, case studies and for events
  • Identify four beef producers who wish to improve their grazing management and support them through the process over two grazing systems
  • Review tools developed in other countries to understand what supportive material is required in England
  • Understand the barriers to beef producers implementing different grazing systems
  • Develop a blueprint for managing grass for beef cattle using kg DM per hectare that have been tested on farms involved in the project
  • Identify key performance indicators related to grassland management



Four mentor grassland beef producers will be identified and linked with four beef producers who wish to significantly improve their current beef performance from grass. Working with Marc Jones (ADAS) and Charlie Morgan (Independent Grassland Specialist) the project aims to upskill the improver farms and disseminate the key messages to the wider industry via various knowledge transfer activities.