Grazing Management

Chicory can establish very quickly when soil temperatures are high and soil moisture is adequate. This makes chicory an excellent option to sow in the springtime. The tap root system can follow moisture through the profile during the establishment period resulting in chicory being anchored well and able to withstand the initial grazing pressure. Implement the pulling test to make sure that the chicory plants are established well enough to withstand grazing.

There are recommended grazing management practices for optimum chicory production and persistence – these differ from season to season and from autumn sowing v spring sowing. Do not graze below 5cm to protect the crowns of the chicory plants. This will ensure that high levels of production are optimised as well as maintaining the stand for as long as possible. If grazing pressure is not managed correctly, then the quality of the chicory can also be affected with the plants looking to go reproductive and produce stem rather than more leaf. The leaf is highly digestible and is where the animals gain the benefits of grazing chicory while the stem is very low in digestibility and therefore less likely to be eaten by the grazing animal.

Chicory should ideally be rotationally grazed with a four-block grazing system. This should allow grazing for one week of each block with a three-week spell. Each block should be grazed no more than two weeks. During the cooler months extend the rest periods to produce enough feed for grazing. Avoid grazing during prolonged waterlogging in winter and early spring, as this can damage the base of the plant and reduce energy reserves.

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