• Plan your autumn application of fertiliser in advance and investigate the cost of various options. Include dairy eﬄuent applications in the fertiliser plan and ensure you apply it in a way that keeps it on the farm. For more information on using eﬄuent in your fertiliser plan, refer to: http://fertsmart.dairyingfortomorrow.com.au/
• Monitor crops for pests and manage crops for best feed utilisation by cows or young stock. Timing of crop grazing should ensure the paddock can be planted back to pasture at the optimum time in addition to feeding cows well. Remember the biggest advantage of planting a crop is improving future productivity of the pasture.
• Be careful not to over-graze summer pastures. Maintain a 4cm to 6cm residual and consider stand-oﬀ paddocks, supplements and/or crops to protect pastures from over-grazing.
• Conﬁrm areas of the farm that would beneﬁt from over-sowing or renovation, and plan the best approach and timing for success. This should back-up what you saw in late spring with pasture performance. Another look at the pastures should be planned for March, because in hot dry summers pastures can thin out.
• If hay has already been cut, watch for any signs of hay heating as a result of green or wet hay being baled. This can be checked regularly using a crow bar pushed into the bales.
• Regularly monitor wrapped silage bales for the presence of holes and repair as soon as possible with tape that has a matching colour to the bales to give it the best chance to stick to the bale.
Production and feeding
• A sharp end to spring meant, in most cases, enough silage was made but hay was a little more variable. Consider your feed budget—have you got enough to reach the autumn break?
• If you are in the hay market, try to get a feed test. Know what you are buying and how that ﬁts into the cows’ diet. It is always best to aim for quality.
• Feed cows to try to maintain as much proﬁtable production as possible. This can be done by feeding a balanced diet of remaining pasture, silage, crop and grain in a practical way. In irrigation, be mindful of the changes in pasture quality over this period and rising NDF (neutral detergent ﬁbre). Keep an eye on protein levels in the diet.
• Feed tests and physical inspection on your own silage and hay are a great way of understanding what you are feeding to cows. You already have the feed and will feed it anyway, but understanding the quality of the feed and its limitations may change your fodder making and feeding decisions in the future.
• As summer progresses, manage heat stress for your dairy herd. Go to www.dairyaustralia.com.au and search for ‘Cool Cows’. Consider cow comfort, water and feed intake and potential reduced production when picking paddocks in the summer and even more so for hot days.
• Be on the lookout for the eﬀects of mycotoxins such as facial eczema (looks similar to photosensitisation) aﬀecting exposed areas of pale skin. If facial eczema is suspected contact a veterinary practitioner for advice on prevention or treatment. Information is available on the Dairy Australia website at: http:// www.dairyaustralia.com.au/Animalmanagement/Animal-health/Facial-EczemaMonitoring.aspx
• The raising of young stock from birth to joining is a critical time as this generally determines ﬁrst joining date, calving date and then reproductive performance of the heifers after their ﬁrst calving.
• A good guide to feeding young stock, called Heifers on Target, is available at: http://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/
• Monitor young stock for pink eye and other seasonal issues.
• Now is a good time to get another income estimation done based on the season so far and the predicted trend for the rest of the year.
• Review your ﬁrst half-year management on the farm. Use your annual budget to determine how much of the planned expenditure was spent and explore the areas of farm management that could be improved for a better system and business in the future.