Too much grass pos­ing prob­lems

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Un­usu­ally good pas­ture growth has given some dairy farm­ers an un­ex­pected chal­lenge – too much long grass for this time of year.

DairyNZ’s re­gional teams man­ager, Craig McBeth, said farm­ers from around the coun­try have been con­tact­ing the in­dus­try body’s spe­cial­ists and lo­cal con­sult­ing teams for ad­vice on how to deal with the is­sue.

‘‘Main­tain­ing high qual­ity pas­ture while feed­ing cows dur­ing a feed sur­plus is one of the most im­por­tant skills of pas­ture man­age­ment.

‘‘This sea­son, which has been milder than usual, is prov­ing a bit of a chal­lenge be­cause there’s just too much long grass in many places. Grass be­ing of­fered to cows is near the top of a Red Band gum­boot in a num­ber of ar­eas in­clud­ing the Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu and Can­ter­bury.’’

It’s im­por­tant to iden­tify a de­vel­op­ing pas­ture sur­plus early, cre­ate a plan and fol­low it to hit tar­get graz­ing resid­u­als, said Craig.

‘‘If you don’t get it right, pas­ture can de­te­ri­o­rate re­sult­ing in lower pas­ture qual­ity at a time when milk­ing cows need the best qual­ity pas­ture you can give them to max­imise milk pro­duc­tion.’’

Op­tions for farm­ers in­clude speed­ing up the ro­ta­tion, us­ing less sup­ple­ment and ni­tro­gen, and clos­ing up sur­plus grass for mak­ing silage.

‘‘All of th­ese are valid op­tions but carry some risk and need to be man­aged,’’ said Craig.

‘‘If pas­tures are more than 3200kg dry mat­ter/ hectare, the milk­ing cows are go­ing to strug­gle to get through it. This pas­ture can be al­lo­cated to the re­main­ing dry cows, or leave th­ese pad­docks out of the ro­ta­tion al­to­gether. It is bet­ter to keep 90 per cent of the farm in good or­der rather than see the whole farm be­come af­fected.

‘‘Ro­ta­tion lengths can be faster than nor­mal but faster than 40 days is risky for this time of year, as tem­per­a­tures are still lim­it­ing new leaf emer­gence.

‘‘Grass, and there­fore silage qual­ity, changes very slowly at this time of year so the grass can wait un­til the weather is suit­able be­fore you mow. In prepa­ra­tion for this, silage in­oc­u­lants should be con­sid­ered,’’ said Craig.

Too much: Good pas­ture growth has given some dairy farm­ers very long grass for this time of year.

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