Sowing Herbal Leys To Feed Our Grass fed shorthorn cattle

Sowing Herbal Leys Grazing Grass Fed Beef

Over the last week Will has been very busy preparing the ground for planting this season’s herbal grazing leys. Over the past two years we have been turning areas of the farm over to herbal leys.

What are herbal grazing leys?

So herbal leys are a complex seed mixture of grasses, legumes and herbs which bring a range of benefits to forage, livestock health and soil fertility. The seed mixture we use contains 17 species of plants.

They have traditionally been used to build soil fertility but they also bring significant benefits to the health and diet of livestock and the wider environment.

The deep rooting species in the mixture add drought tolerance which is becoming increasingly needed as we are experiencing drier summers. It remains greener and much more palatable for the cattle for much longer than a simple grass mix which typically has a shallow root structure.

The mixture of species also ensures a longer growing season which allows us to keep our shorthorn cattle outside grazing well into the autumn. Certain species including sainfoin, chicory and birdsfoot trefoil have anthelmintic properties which helps to reduce the worm burden in our cattle which greatly reduces our need to use artificial wormers.

The deeper rooted herbs most notably chicory mine the soil for important nutrients and minerals making them available to our grazing cattle and provides them with the perfect natural balanced diet.

The high legume content of our herbal leys reduces the need to use artificial nitrogen fertiliser as they fix their own nitrogen. This is brilliant for us as the cost of fertiliser as well reported in the news is frankly eye watering!

‘Newman Turner’ one of the great advocates of herbal leys once described these mixes as his ‘fertiliser merchant, food manufacturer and vet all in one’.

A walk amongst the cattle while they are grazing the herbal leys is simply a joy. They are totally content munching away while the field is literally teaming with insect life. The mini farmer just love trying to catch the grass hoppers and spot butterflies.