Reducing stock saves feed store
Reducing stock numbers is a key part of lowering feed demand on farms where grass and fodder are scarce.
Where dairy cows have been identified to be culled, farmers should consider once-a-day milking and ramping up feeding levels to allow the stock to be sold earlier.
On beef farms, grass and fodder can be saved by weaning autumn calving cows, if not already done. In-calf heifers, weanlings and stores can all be put on restricted silage plus meals.
Consider early weaning for cows due to calve in February or early March. Calves can also be put on a forward creep system, rather than meal feeding weanlings.
Heat stress is a risk on farms at the moment so avoid housing animals where possible and keep a close eye on drinkers. Dairy cows at the Greenfield farm drank 100 litres of water per head per day last week.
A good supply of clean water is essential at all times for lactating dairy cows. Many farms are already experiencing water supply issues and if dry feeds like concentrate and silage are fed, the pressure on water supply increases. The grass dry matter content will also increase. Whether you feed silage in the yards or field should be dictated by where you have the best water supply.
Soil moisture deficits are running at more than 75mm or three inches on well-drained soils in the southeast and more than 40mm on well-drained soils all over the country.
This is 30-50mm higher than normal, indicating that up to two inches of rain would be needed to bring soils back to normal levels.