Increasing the amount of pasture and crop eaten on-farm could equate to around $300/ha of extra operating profit for every additional tonne of dry matter eaten. Using the Pasture and crop eaten, and Pasture potential tools below will allow you to calculate your farm's figures and identify any performance gaps on your farm.
Steps to improving pasture performance
Step 1: Calculate pasture & crop eaten
Pasture eaten is an estimate of how much pasture and crop grown on the milking platform is being eaten by cows to produce milk and is estimated in kilograms of dry matter per hectare (kg DM/ha) or tonnes DM per hectare (t DM/ha).
The pasture and crop eaten calculator assesses how much energy it takes to drive your farm (cow numbers, type, and milk production) and deducts any energy from feed brought onto the milking platform or any energy from feed consumed by cows grazed off. The remainder is the energy provided by the pasture and crop eaten. This is then converted to kg DM by an assumption about the energy content of the feed.
Step 2: Calculate pasture potential
The potential pasture eaten tool allows you to create a regionally relevant benchmark for your farm by looking at other farms in your locality. The tool defines pasture potential as the 90th percentile of pasture and crop eaten on nearby farms (i.e. the level that only one out of ten farmers beat).
The tool provides a chart with the distribution of DairyBase pasture and crop eaten within a 20km, 40km and 60km distance from the chosen location.
The potential achievable (the 90th percentile) is shown as a dark blue line with a numerical value. The uncertainty band of this estimate is shown as a shaded area around this level.
Step 3: Calculate the gap between current and potential performance
Once you have both your own pasture and crop eaten figure as well as your pasture potential figure, you can calculate how much room for improvement you have in your farm. You can also calculate the $ value of this to your business using the following formula:
|Pasture potential||-||Pasture and crop eaten||=||gap||x||$300||=||Potential profit|
|e.g. 15.5 tonnes||-||13.5 tonnes||=||2 tonnes||x||$300||=||$600/ha|
Step 4: Plan to close that gap
Now that you have identified a gap in performance, it is time to make a plan for how you can close that gap. Typically, there are two key areas of opportunity to improve performance which are to grow more feed (pasture or crop) or to utilise more of what you are already growing.
The achieving pasture potential page outlines more about these 2 key areas of opportunity, helping you to identify strategies best suited to your farm that will help you to close this gap.