We’re off to a fine start, so don’t spoil it with bad qual­ity pas­ture

Irish Independent - Farming - - Front Page -

know­ing the de­sired pre-graz­ing yield that is re­quired by the cows for each week.

The pre-graz­ing cover can be cal­cu­lated as shown be­low and is of­ten re­ferred to as the “trig­ger level” as any pas­ture with a cover greater than this amount is pre­sent­ing a sur­plus above the herds feed de­mand.

Tar­get pre-graz­ing cover = (stock­ing rate x in­take of pas- ture x ro­ta­tion length) + resid­ual cover

For ex­am­ple, four cows/ha x 17kg DM grass/cow (-1kg ra­tion/cow) x 20days + 50kgDM/ha = 1,410kg DM/ha

This tar­get, along­side the resid­ual cover tar­get, should be used with the feed wedge to help you iden­tify both im­me­di­ate and up­com­ing sur­pluses and deficits through­out the main graz­ing sea­son (April– Au­gust).The graph (left) iden­ti­fies the sur­pluses and deficits for the pre-graz­ing tar­get cal­cu­lated above.

In this ex­am­ple, there is an im­me­di­ate sur­plus with the pad­dock cov­ers in ex­cess of the pre-graz­ing tar­get and also a po­ten­tial sur­plus in about two weeks' time. To man­age such a sur­plus there are three man­age­ment op­tions to con­sider;

Ac­cu­mu­late a sur­plus on a small area to be con­served as pit silage/bales (long-term silage)

Sur­plus on a small area to be con­served im­me­di­ately, of­ten as bales (short-term silage)

Re­move a small area of pas­ture and re­seed or sow a crop that can be eaten af­ter the pe­riod of sur­plus

All three op­tions aim to pre­vent the im­me­di­ate sur­plus man­i­fest­ing into a sur­plus all over the farm and an over­all loss of qual­ity. Af­ter such a good start to the year, it would be a shame to com­pro­mise the cow at such a crit­i­cal stage of her lac­ta­tion. So walk the farm, cre­ate your feed wedge and act on the in­for­ma­tion ac­cord­ingly.

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