15 May 1998

Growth rate from 60 to 100kg DM

GRASS growth rates have ranged from 60kg to 100kg DM a day in the past week, on farms taking growth measurements, writes Paul Bird BGS consultant.

Stocking rates of 4 to 6 cows a hectare (1.6-2.4/acre) are required on grazing areas at these rates.

Top quality grass

Those producers who persisted with grazing through February, March and April are now grazing top quality grass at about 3000kg DM/ha or 12cm (4.7in) high.

Those that have grazed less, in most cases because of poor access and no confidence in grass, are either trying to cope by strip grazing or will not turn out until first cut silage has been made and they can graze the aftermaths. These producers must be receiving a different milk price to the rest.

Poor quality grass is building up in the base of many pastures because cows are grazing grass that is nearly at silage making height.

If there is no shorter grass available, still graze but be prepared to use a mower to top the sward either just before or just after grazing. Follower mobs of stock can also be used to reduce grass residuals, but use enough animals to get the job done quickly.

Debatable

Autumn calving herds, irrespective of yield, should only be feeding grazed grass and it is debatable whether cows in spring calving herds should be fed any concentrates. Many producers at BGS farm discussion groups started their spring calving herds on 3 to 4kg concentrates and have now reduced that to 2kg.

After the second serving cycle no concentrate will be fed. Large, high PIN Holsteins will struggle on very low concentrate levels and those focusing on grazing systems should think about moving away from this type of cow.