Deferred grazing/all-grass wintering (AGW)

Read our advice on how to manage deferred grazing (all-grass wintering), grass allocation, and how to prepare a feed budget.

What is deferred grazing/All-grass wintering?

Deferred grazing (also known as all-grass wintering) involves closing up paddocks in autumn to allow a grass wedge to build up for feeding through later autumn and early winter. 

Deferred grazing is based on intensive rotational grazing, managing high stocking densities and frequently moving through electric-fenced paddocks. The stock eat grass that has accumulated for the winter plus winter-grown grass. Winter grass growth varies with location and will determine if grazed grass can be used through winter.

Grazing swards tightly in the winter removes dead material, gives even distribution of dung and urine and reduces weed populations. This results in better quality spring pastures as the more productive species benefit.

Complete dependence on grazed grass over winter is not achievable on all farms, but elements of deferred grazing can still be applied. Ideally, farms considering deferred grazing would have:

  • Well-drained soils
  • A convenient large block of grassland for easy stock movements
  • Relatively hardy breeds that withstand restricted feeding without compromising performance

Grass allocation and feed budgeting for wintering at grass

From target grass covers to preparing a feed budget, see our tips for wintering at grass.  

Find out about grass allocation and feed budgeting

How to set-up grazing paddocks for wintering at grass

Read advice from other farmers about electric fencing and setting up grass paddocks.

How to set up grazing paddocks for wintering at grass

Monitoring health and welfare when wintering at grass

Managing animals over winter at grass presents specific health and welfare challenges. See our tips on preventative management.  

Find out about animal health and welfare over winter

Useful links

Learn more about feed budgeting and rotation plans for cattle

Read more about all-grass wintering of sheep: phase 1 research project

Find out more on all-grass wintering of sheep: phase 2 research project

More on all grass wintering of sheep

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