- Monitor any crops that you have planted for pests and manage the crop for best feed utilisation by cows or young stock. In particular, keep sorghum and millet pre-grazing height under control (vegetative growth stage; about. knee height). 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 of overgrazing summer pastures. Maintain your 4–6 cm residual, 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, 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 as, 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.
- 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 http://www.dairyaustralia.com.
au/Animal-management/Animal- health/Facial-Eczema- Monitoring.aspx
Production and Feeding
- Consider your feed budget, have you got enough feed to reach the autumn break? Don’t forget your young stock in this budget.
- If you are in the fodder market try to get a feed test. Know what you are buying and how that fits into the cow’s diet. 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 (higher NDF and lower protein and ME). Keep an eye on crude protein levels in the diet. Milkers need to be getting about 16–18 per cent CP in the total 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. See 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.
- Recent evidence suggests pregnant dry cows can be severely negatively affected by heat stress in the following lactation, as well as in-utero calves born to heat stressed cows. Consider shade and cooling options for pregnant autumn-calving dry cows also.
- 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.
- Start thinking about projected tax implications and R&M opportunities now.