- Pasture intake per cow depends on having high quality pasture and enough pasture available/ha. This is challenging through the seed-head phase on rye-grass but achievable with rotation management. Monitoring is paramount to know when to push the rotation back out once seed-head phase is completed.
- 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. Minimise topping but use it as a tool to reset residuals if required.
- If you have surplus pasture on the milking area use silage/hay making to control residual and better pasture quality next round. This will be a balancing act between pasture quality and quantity.
- Be on the lookout for strategies to maximise home-grown feed. If moisture is not limiting, consider the application of nitrogen or a fertiliser blend to boost growth. Even with a low response rate, nitrogen-fed grass can still be the cheapest form of high quality feed.
- If you have paddocks with low soil nutrients that can be irrigated with effluent, it is coming up to the best time of year to apply the effluent, getting some pasture growth and having a low risk of run-off.
- Target paddocks that need to be renovated to improve the pasture base on the farm and reduce the pasture that is not grown in late spring by cropping.
- Have a plan of crop type, seed bed preparation, nutrient and pest management and planned grazing dates. Ensure you lock in seed as availability could be variable.
- Ensure you consider the seasonal conditions in determining what crop to grow. Is a water-efficient crop more suited or is the moisture available to drive growth?
- Application of dairy effluent onto summer fodder crops is an effective use of this nutrient resource to boost crop yield. Yield responses will be greater on crops than non-irrigated pasture.
- Look after your crops by checking for pests, weeds and disease regularly, and treating when required. Ensure soil nutrient levels are adequate for the crop to be able to reach yield potentials.
- Do a feed budget to ensure you have enough fodder to get through the summer and autumn. This will also estimate the grain usage and give an idea of the purchased feed bill for the summer and autumn. It’s best to have this plan early.
- If you are nearing the end of the joining period it may pay to assess the number of cows not in calf. Knowing the numbers of cows not in calf allows for early decisions to be made on what you will do with the empty cows.
Calves and heifers
- Ensure your young stock received a second 7-in-1 vaccine. This builds immunity against clostridial diseases and leptospirosis.
- Talk to your vet about vaccinating your young stock for pink eye.
- Calves require a high protein and high energy diet to keep growing. A feed budget can be done to ensure calves and other young stock have enough pasture, silage, grain and hay to gain weight and grow to planned joining and calving weights.