GB grass growth update: dryness prevails

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Since our last update in June, average grass growth has been significantly affected by the weather and has generally worsened against 3-year averages for dairy, beef and sheep farms.

The prolonged dry period and record-breaking temperatures in July, coupled with low average rainfall have considerably hampered growth rates, with areas of Southern England at risk of being placed in drought status for the first time since 2018. Growth rates on GB dairy farms averaged 39kg DM/ha/day during July, compared to the 3-year average of 60kg. Beef and sheep farms averaged 28kg DM/ha/day, compared to 46kg recorded for 2019-2021. Whilst there may have been some impact on grass growth from missed fertiliser applications earlier in the year, rain is proving to be a more significant factor for growth rates currently being seen.

Recent cooler weather and smatterings of rain in parts of the country may corroborate with the recent uptick in average growth rates. However, without significant rain (which does not appear to be in the forecast for August), grass growth will continue to be limited. Some farmers were reporting the need to start feeding their winter forage as early as July due to lack of grazing. Prolonged buffer feeding will result in the need to budget and secure additional forage to sustain head count for the autumn and winter ahead, at a time when input costs are at an all-time high, further impacting margins which have already been constricted. This additional strain may further exacerbate the existing drop in overall milk production currently being seen and could lead to additional livestock being offloaded in the second half of the year, both factored into our latest outlooks.

Visit our drought pages, read our top tips for managing grazing during dry weather, and sign up to our weekly Forage for Knowledge update for the latest grass growth and quality data.

Image of staff member Charlotte Forkes-Rees

Charlotte Forkes-Rees

Retail and Consumer Insight Analyst

See full bio

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Beef and Lamb market news straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on our online form.

Visit the Keep in touch page

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.