Dairy: Surplus grass on grazing ground a Catch 22
Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30
Showery weather from mid-June to July has seen grass growth continue to forge ahead.
However, grass quality has continually required remedial work as the grass seed head vigorously appeared in pasture.
In certain parts of the country removing surplus bales as a mechanism to manage grass quality has been a significant challenge where there hasn't been two dry days together. If this surplus grass is on the dairy grazing ground it can become a 'catch 22' situation.
Trying to be patient and leaving the grass surplus for good weather reduces bale quality and prolongs a higher grazing demand and risks a potential grass deficit in subsequent weeks. Occasionally you can wait no longer and wet bales just have to be made.
Another issue many farmers have commented on this year is how their milk protein percentage is tracking behind last year by around 0.1pc. Obviously this is financially disappointing when milk price schedules are component based.
A variety of factors such as nutrition, age, genetic merit and breed will affect the shape of the lactation curve, and milk composition achieved.
Personally my gut feel was that the seasonal variation of 2015 may have promoted higher milk protein percentage or on the other hand the tough April of 2016 followed by grass seeding from May onwards may have disfavoured this year's protein percentage. Essentially for a spring calving herd, the stage of lactation on milk yield and milk composition is confounded with the effects of the different seasons.
However, there is nothing like reviewing the facts. Data which is shown in the table, looks at the milk composition of around 80-90 farms per year over the last five years.