Maintaining high quality pasture while feeding cows well during a period of feed surplus is one of the greatest skills of pasture management. 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 (Holmes et al., 2002).
If pastures are allowed to become stemmy, milk production will fall even though there appears to be plenty of pasture (a rapid fall from peak milk production is an indicator of poor pasture control). The benefits on summer production to maintaining a low residual pasture cover during the period of spring pasture surplus have been demonstrated in many trials.
This Farmfact covers the first of three areas of surplus management:
- How to identify a surplus
- Options to manage a surplus
- How much area to shut up.