Take out paddocks for silage if your rotation exceeds 30 days
After a dry summer there often follows a good and growthy autumn and many farms have recently seen grass growth rates that have matched or exceeded this spring.
Paddocks are a lush rich green and cows are settled and content. This is after having suffered notable falls and rises in milk production, especially milk protein percentage, which was most likely due to the hot weather and heat stress of the summer.
August is a time in the grassland management calendar when ideally we finish up making silage, reseed and start to lengthen the grazing rotation. The aim of this is to push grass forward into the autumn in an attempt to extend the grazing season.
Due to late first cuts and attempts to make third cuts in places, I have no doubt that there will be plenty of silage made this September, but on a milking platform, August is a tricky month to manage. While one may be happy that there is an increase in the pasture cover, August can often see surpluses quietly grow to a level that requires action.
If you see your grass cover increasing substantially and rotation lengths already exceeding 30 days, it is better to cut paddocks for silage in mid-August than at the start of September.
Therefore, it's crucial to do a weekly pasture walk during this time to manage the grass supply and demand. Others have questioned management decisions with respect to the possibility of another period of dry conditions. But with the day-length closing in, I feel that if this was to happen, then the impact would be short-lived.
While it's farm specific and influenced by stocking rate, I find that holding a grazing rotation of 22-26 days up until around August 20 works well. From that date it's then ideal to start increasing the rotation length to roughly 30 days by September 1, 35 days by September 15, and 40 days by October 1.
This should coincide with an increase in the pasture cover up to or exceeding 1,000kg DM/ha by October 1.