5 June 1998

Grazing flexibility

FLEXIBLE grazing management and care to clean out paddocks are current priorities, says New Zealand consultant Carol Gibson who is working for the BSG. She is now visiting farms which have either made too much silage and are short of grazing, or have been more conservative and have too much grass ahead of the cows.

"When grazing is tight, consider strip-grazing some of the longer grass saved for silage – either by letting cows select the best material and topping behind them or mowing a strip for them to graze." Its not an ideal solution, she stresses, but a short-term strategyto allow grass covers to build up.

Conversely, on farms where grass has got ahead of cows, dont be afraid to skip paddocks in the rotation which have become too long for cow grazing, she advises.

"Rotational grazing doesnt mean sticking to a set rotation around the farm, it means going to the paddock which is most appropriate for today in terms of length." Cows should enter paddocks at about 3000kg DM/ha and graze down to 1600-1700kg DM/ha.

In situations where a paddock hasnt been grazed to an ideal level and leaf and stalk is left behind, do something about it immediately, she insists. "Either top or graze – preferably with dry cows – the same or the next day to take the pasture down."

to 1600-1700kg DM/ha." Another option when grass is plentiful is to leave the sward to grow up, silage it, and graze the next time.

"When topping, go right down to about the 5cm mark so its like a silage aftermath. Its not simply a cosmetic job to tidy the paddock – the stalk must come off to ensure good fresh regrowth."

GRAZING POINTERS

&#8226 Skip paddocks when grass ahead of cows

&#8226 Strip graze silage ground when short

&#8226 Top/graze behind cows to clear up