Agronomy Advice

What is the value of grass?

Grass is a vital part of any livestock enterprise and remains the most dominant and economic feed for the dairy, beef and sheep sector either as grazing or conserved forage; but what is the real value of grass?

What is the value of grass?
What is the value of grass?
The real value of grass is its usefulness as a livestock feed rather than its cost of production

Too often the value of grass is confused with the cost of production rather than the value of grass as a livestock feed.  The yield of grass becomes the main focus at the expense of quality which can lead to costly mistakes being made.   By cutting inputs in an attempt to save costs. both yield and quality can be affected, which means any shortfall in the nutritional value of the grass has to be made up using bought-in feeds which will always be more expensive than homegrown grass.

Yet even though this importance is realised by most, very few livestock farmers appreciate the real financial value of grass and how this can be influenced by grassland nutrition. 

The value of a tonne of grass depends on three factors: the dry matter content, the energy content and the protein content. So to calculate the real value of grass it is necessary to determine these three factors by comparing the grass to standard feeds such as feed barley or rapeseed meal that would have to be used to substitute for a shortfall in grass yield and quality.

The value of grass depends on its dry matter content, protein content and energy content

Because most livestock farmers are growing grass to feed to livestock, it can be difficult to put a value on grass for the purpose of evaluating the economics of nitrogen applications on grassland. In an effort to help farmers understand what value to attach to grass forage, and the effect that fertiliser costs have on it, we have put together a calculator on our website to help demonstrate how valuable grass is if we compare replacing its feed value with purchased concentrates.

The calculator is simple to use and gives the user the opportunity to test different scenarios. The variables that can be changed include the price of fertiliser, barley and rapeseed meal, and grass yields and quality (% DM, ME MJ/kg, % CP).

We hope this calculator makes it easier to evaluate the cost of fertiliser and its contribution to growing grass on your farm.

Check out the value of grass calculator

Latest advice background
Latest advice background
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