Mangakino (Tiller Talk)

Tiller Talk
System Type: 3
Region:
Bay of Plenty
Last Update:
05 October 2018

DairyNZ Comment:

05 Oct 2018
  • The fickle nature of spring continues. One week pasture growth rates are in excess of a pasture-only diet, then the next week pasture growth rates drop back. We're seeing a number of variations of this across the region which makes solid decision making around upcoming grazing round management a challenge.

    The best approach to fluctuating pasture growth rates

    Return to the basics. You can only manage what you measure so maintain regular farm walks to assess the amount of pasture on-hand to help answer:

    • How much pasture have I got today?
    • How much pasture will I have next week?
    • How big is the surplus or deficit?
    • How much pasture remained when the cows left the paddock?

    Farm walks also provide an opportunity to take a closer look at the farm's pastures and assess whether any pasture improvement or renewal programme is required. Regular pasture assessment provides valuable information for both short term and future management decisions.

    Surplus growth and feed

    Managing surplus growth in late spring is important because rank pastures lose density and clover content and will therefore be less productive over the summer and autumn. A more immediate effect is that rank pastures show up in reduced feed quality and animal performance. 

    Ways to control surplus feed:

    • Make supplements - preferably high quality silage. The secret is to shut paddocks before the surplus is apparent. Should the feed surplus be short lived, these paddocks can always be brought back into the grazing round.
    • Summer crop or pasture renewal -taking paddocks out for summer crop or renewal means there is less pasture to manage, and more quality feed available on the remaining paddocks during any potential deficits.
    • Remove selected paddocks from grazing and concentrate on maintaining good control over the rest of the farm. Steeper paddocks should remain in the grazing round. Paddocks on lower contours are easier to clean up later on (either topped or deferred grazing) and will produce a better regrowth response.
    • Use late-heading ryegrass species when renewing pasture. This more strategic decision applies less when you’ve already got the feed surplus!.

    Reaching peak milk production

    The big issue and focus area at this stage of the season is to continue to achieve ad lib feeding of the milking herd - allowing the cows to eat as much pasture as they can - giving them a chance to reach and maintain their peak milk production potential for as long as possible.

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  • Date Collected

    05 Oct 2018

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