Coping With Too Much Grass

NEW ZEALAND – Farmers reporting problems with too much grass growth are being advised on how to manage pasture through the mild winter.
calendar icon 14 August 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

The warning is simple – if high quality pasture cannot be maintained then cows will not eat it and pasture will deteriorate.

This will have disastrous consequences for yield and feed costs when maximum production is expected at peak season, warns Craig McBeth of Dairy New Zealand.

"Maintaining high quality pasture while feeding cows during a feed surplus is one of the most important skills of pasture management. This season, which has been milder than usual, is proving a bit of a challenge because there’s just too much long grass in many places.

“Grass being offered to cows is near the top of a Red Band gumboot in a number of areas including the Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu and Canterbury."

Craig says that farmers are wise to identify developing pasture surplus early and create targets to follow.

Solutions can be simple, such as speeding up rotations, silaging pastures or cutting back on fertiliser.

Lactating cows struggle get through more than 3200 kg dry matter/hectare, therefore Craig advises that dry cows be allocated any over grown areas.

This pasture can be allocated to the remaining dry cows, or leave these paddocks out of the rotation altogether. It is better to keep 90 per cent of the farm in good order rather than see the whole farm become affected.

"Rotation lengths can be faster than normal but faster than 40 days is risky for this time of year, as temperatures are still limiting new leaf emergence.

"Grass, and therefore silage quality, changes very slowly at this time of year so the grass can wait until the weather is suitable before you mow. In preparation for this, silage inoculants should be considered," says Craig.

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