Feed supply and demand needs to be matched for the autumn and winter so target cow condition can be achieved for the spring and the new lactation.
The Autumn Management Tool (based on the former milk-on dry-off tool) is a decision support tool to help match feed supply and demand. It tests a farmer’s options on whether to dry-off, buy supplementary feed, cull or alter milking frequency.
It will help to
- Identify the profitability of the various options, while achieving body condition score (BCS) and average pasture cover targets
- Set appropriate dry-off rules, ensuring there is enough time and feed to meet BCS targets.
The Autumn Management Tool is not designed to provide advice on recommended pasture management strategies. Instead, it will utilise all feed grown on-farm to meet cow demand and average pasture cover targets, before identifying a surplus that farmers can utilise.
The model shows the margin between milk revenue and the cost of purchased feed*. It may not determine what is profitable for the individual situation. The farmer needs to determine if this margin is profitable when considering other expenses and/or barriers to cashflow.
*can include grazing costs and shed and labour costs of milking.
You can use the tool to test different scenarios. Make sure the following are considered and adjusted as required:
- Set dry off dates so BCS targets are achieved.
- Check that all mobs have enough time dry.
- We recommend 6 weeks dry.
- Assess if pasture utilisation (Input I8) is realistic for the farm system
- Test the sensitivity of pasture eaten by adjusting the utilisation figure.
- Consider what feed is required (e.g. on hand) after planned start of calving,
- Model takes into account the pasture required for pasture cover at calving.
- Supplements can be entered into the model as feed already on-hand (this feed has a sunk cost) or at the feed price as a ‘feed gap’. Test the profitability of using “sunk cost” feed by assessing the feed gap with and without this additional feed.