Achieving specific pasture cover targets is important for maximising profit from pasture. But when was the last time you checked that your pasture cover targets matched your stocking rate and rotation length in the critical spring period?
Setting up for next spring starts now. Through autumn, farmers should be working towards achieving average pasture cover (APC) and body condition score (BCS) targets at calving.
Start by working backwards from balance date, to establish your required APC for the planned start of calving and June 1.
The Pasture Road Map (see in full at dairynz.co.nz/road-map) shows two example target lines for individual farms. Where do you sit? And which tools can you use to calculate your targets?
Each farm will have its own APC target at balance date. For most, it will be 1900-2100 kilograms of dry matter/hectare depending on cow demand, stocking rate and rotation length. Meeting this target improves your chances of providing high quality pasture and promoting good pasture growth post balance date, and of fully using the pasture available at the start of calving.
To achieve your balance date target, you’ll first need to hit your target APC at planned start of calving. This is the cover you’ll need to meet animal demand between calving and balance date, taking into account likely pasture growth rates and any supplement fed from planned start of calving to balance date. Useful tools include a spring feed budget and the DairyNZ Spring Rotation Planner. Go to dairynz.co.nz/spring
Two critical milestones in the farming calendar are to achieve APC and BCS targets at the planned start of calving. To achieve these targets it’s helpful to have a June 1 pasture cover target as a signpost. Determine this target by using a winter feed budget.
Your aim now is to build autumn pasture cover so there’s plenty to push forward into early spring. Using an autumn feed budget will help you set up your plan, while the new DairyNZ Autumn Rotation Planner can be used to help implement it. The principle behind the feed demand and supply factors (mentioned in the Pasture Road Map) is to build cover by increasing rotation length, strategically using supplements and/or nitrogen (within regional nutrient constraints) and reducing herd demand. Act now with BCS assessment and monthly feed budgeting to assess pasture covers, nitrogen requirements, culling, drying off, crop, wintering off and tactical supplement use.
Check out the Pasture Road Map at Dairy NZ
Article supplied by Dairy NZ