Temporary periods of pasture surplus develop mainly in spring and if not managed, ryegrass forms stems, flowers and seed heads, resulting in a low pasture quality.
If pastures are allowed to become stalky, feed quality will decrease so that in late spring and early summer, the herd's milk production will fall, even though there appears to be plenty of pasture. A rapid fall from peak production is usually a good indication that there has been poor pasture control. Many trials have demonstrated that production is affected right through into the summer period if target post-grazing residuals are not achieved through the period of spring surplus.
There are a number of options available for managing surplus pasture
- Speeding up the rotation
- Make grass silage
- Take out paddocks for a summer crop
- Deferred grazing
Deferred grazing is the practice of holding over pasture that has been considered surplus to animal requirements in spring. It is then grazed at a later date when there is a shortage of pasture, usually in the summer/autumn.
- May suit if your farm’s summer is typically a dry one
- The less productive the area you defer, the lower the cost in the first year
- The timing of shutting up and later grazing is crucial.
Find out about the pros and cons of deferred grazing here.