Nav­i­gat­ing dif­fi­cul­ties of un­set­tled weather

Matamata Chronicle - - Property - JAMES THOMAS

As most farm­ers are aware this has been a most un­usual spring with wet, cloudy weather con­tribut­ing to lower grass growth and util­i­sa­tion as well as a lower dry mat­ter (DM) per cen­t­age in the grass.

For most of us this has meant less pro­duc­tion per cow with pro­duc­tion to date av­er­ag­ing around 10 per cent be­hind last sea­son.

The pro­longed wet weather and as­so­ci­ated grass is­sues has meant that mat­ing per­for­mance on some farms has been be­low tar­get which will po­ten­tially im­pact on early milk pro­duc­tion next sea­son.

It is there­fore an op­por­tune time for some de­ci­sion mak­ing on farm.

Firstly do some ‘num­ber crunch­ing’ around the mat­ing per­for­mance. Low sub­mis­sion rates and high num­bers of non­cy­cling cows will put pres­sure on bull num­bers and also im­pact on empty rates.

Dis­cus­sions should fo­cus on what went wrong and right and al­low some strate­gic de­ci­sions to be made around next year’s mat­ing pe­riod.

There is a grow­ing demand for the use of short ges­ta­tion se­men to help con­sol­i­date the calv­ing spread and this should be con­sid­ered. This will as­sist ex­tend­ing the mat­ing pe­riod and al­low the op­por­tu­nity for more cows to get in calf. Sec­ondly the late spring has meant that there is less silage be­ing har­vested and crops are be­ing planted later.

This may put some pres­sure on sum­mer man­age­ment so it is im­por­tant for each farm busi­ness to look at con­tin­gency plans for the 60 days of sum­mer that are likely to need sup­ple­men­tary feed. This may in­clude putting con­tracts in place for sup­ple­ments.

These de­ci­sions need to be made now as the cost of in­put will rise sharply if farm­ers wait un­til a deficit pe­riod oc­curs with as­so­ci­ated mar­ket demand.

Other op­tions now in­clude the use of ni­tro­gen to push feed in front (as well as in­creas­ing leaf growth) and the need to push ro­ta­tion lengths out to­wards 30 days by mid to late De­cem­ber. Each farm is dif­fer­ent and will need dif­fer­ent strate­gies to cope over this time.

James Thomas is a Far­mWise Con­sul­tant.

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