When the grain price and milk price change, the opportunity to make milk from grain for a margin also changes.
Grain prices vary depending on the type of grain fed, additives used and volume delivered; the price is currently between $280/tonne as fed and $400/tonne as fed.
To work out if it is worth feeding grain we can calculate the milk price:grain price ratio (MP:GP ratio). A ratio of less than 1.5 means it is not worth feeding grain, a ratio of 1.5 is marginal and a ratio greater than 1.5 shows it is worth feeding grain. For example, milk price (¢/kg MS) divided by grain price
($/tonne): 575 ¢/kg MS divided by $350/tonne gives a ratio of 1.64 — definitely worth feeding grain.
Remember, when feeding grain the last kilogram fed is likely to get the lowest marginal response in production; it’s the law of diminishing returns.
Rotation lengths need to be long enough to get critical volume and residuals need to be low enough to get quality next time the pasture is grazed.
Consider the use of nitrogen to boost pasture production and potentially minimise the use of expensive supplements. Pasture responses of 10–20 kg DM/ha for every kg N/ha are common in spring and represent very good value for money if you need and/or can utilise the additional feed grown.
Estimate your silage and hay requirements for the coming year; spring can be a good time to source extra feed for good quality silage. A focus on fodder quality will lead to more milk produced by cows when it’s fed.
Watch for pasture pests such as lucerne flea and consider control if you think they are damaging pasture. This may look like slower pasture growth than expected and/or a dull-looking pasture.
Applications of fertiliser may significantly boost pasture and crop growth rates if your last application was in autumn.
Calves should be given access to clean water, pellets and a fibre source from day one. They can be weaned when they are consistently eating 1–2 kg/day.
Weaned calves should weigh at least 75 kg for Jerseys and 100 kg for Friesians, at two to three months of age. For more information on calf rearing, see: www.dairyaustralia.com.au/Animal-management/Animal-welfare/Calf-welfare/Rearing-healthy-calves-manual.aspx