Summer grazing provides the opportunity to reduce feed costs and simplify feeding.
However, farmers must be realistic about what late-summer grass can provide or they could miss out on a better later-season milk price.
It is important to get as much from grazed grass as possible, but as grass quality and quantity can vary through the summer.
Be sure to calculate grass availability, advises Robin Hawkey, senior nutritionist at Mole Valley Feed Solutions.
“It is also worth taking fresh grass samples to establish quality. This may mean reintroducing the mixer wagon or stepping up cake quality in the parlour for fresh calvers.
“If you don’t, May/June calvers won’t milk as well or get back in calf.
“Milk quality may decline and you won’t make the most of the milk price.
“However, it is still worth pushing staler cows harder off grazing to keep costs down, as there might be potential to get more from grass than you think.”
Planning ahead to ensure adequate silage stocks for the winter is also vital, he adds.
“Some farmers are choosing to go for bulk and reducing the number of cuts taken to drop costs. But there could be a sting in the tail if you go for bulk versus quality, as you may have to feed more cake in the autumn.
“Assess your stocks and work out what you need. It may be worth cutting a lighter, quality second cut.”
To make more milk from forage, Dr Hawkey says farmers should seriously consider supplementing with live yeast.
He adds: “There is irrefutable evidence that live yeasts improve forage use, particularly at grazing, when rumen pH can drop. Research demonstrates a 4% increase in efficiencies, so a 25-litre cow would give an extra litre of milk for an investment of about 5p a cow a day.”