Dairy: It's time to start catching up on the herd's grazing targets
Published 02/03/2016 | 02:30
The last time I wrote in this column four weeks ago, I spoke about getting cows and fertiliser out where possible. The reality is that this was just not possible, except for a small minority of farmers on extremely free draining soils. But now the clouds have finally lifted, we have some catching up to do.
Getting through the grass
Normally the target is to have a third of the farm grazed by March 1st, two thirds grazed by the middle of March and the first round finished in the first week of April. For most, we are definitely not going to get the third grazed by March 1st, the two thirds looks very challenging, but we may still be able to get the entire farm grazed by the first week of April.
If we take a farmer with 100 cows on 40ha who will on average have 80 cows calved in the month of March. These 80 cows will eat approximately 13kgs of grass dry matter (if conditions permit) along with 3kgs of concentrate.
If this farmer has an average farm cover of 1,000kgs dry matter per hectare on March 1 then it will take him 40 days to graze out this grass, which means finishing the first rotation on April 10.
This in essence means that if we have any chance of eating through the heavy covers on farms, then cows have to get two grazings per day.
This can be achieved by leaving cows out fully, if conditions permit, or by leaving them out fully by day and leaving them out for a further three hours after the evening milking.
Bring forward the evening milking to 4pm, leave the cows out straight after milking and bring them back in again at 8pm. Graze the third of the farm with the lowest covers first. At least then you will have one third of farm growing actively in time for the start of the second rotation.