Use grass wedge to plan your feed needs in winter
Published 15/06/2010 | 05:00
The challenge for farmers from a grazing point of view is staying on top of the grass situation and using the grass wedge to make the best decisions.
The wedge is very straightforward and it's a useful tool in helping to keep grass at the three-leaf stage for cows at each grazing. There is half a gallon of milk per day to be gained by maintaining the right grass quality in June and July.
If the wedge indicates that you have surplus grass, one solution is to remove this surplus by cutting paddocks for baled silage. Most silage pits were emptied last winter, especially on highly stocked farms, so the extra silage you cut now could be badly needed next winter.
If your first cut of silage is already harvested, or on the point of harvest, you will have an idea of where you stand for next winter's feed, but you should also be looking at your additional feed options.
First of all, decide on how many animals you intend to carry over winter? You then need to calculate how much feed these animals require for a normal winter and it's a good idea to factor in a reserve of feed for unforeseen issues.
If you take an 80-cow herd with 25 replacements on 48ha as an example, they will have a normal winter requirement of 800t of pit silage. Having one month's reserve feed will add another 175t to your requirement.
If 50pc of the farm was set for the first cut, and the yield was good at 10t per acre, this cut would provide about 600t.
It's then a question of looking at other sources of winter feed. If you look to your grass area, these options might include closing an area for second cut silage or applying more nitrogen for bales off the grazing area.