STOCKING rates are too low on many farms at around 3.6 a ha (1.5 cows/acre). This has been too low and has caused pasture quality problems that will continue into the autumn unless action is taken now, writes Paul Bird.
Laxly-grazed swards will suffer more in a dry period. Short, actively growing grass can tolerate extremes of climate much better than stalky grass.
Changing the size of the grazing areas is the best way to manage fluctuating grass growth. When grass growth is fast reduce the area, when it slows increase the area.
Cleaning off the trash in the bottom of pasture now can be done with either dry cows, replacement stock or the mower.
Growth rates are 60kg to 70kg DM/ha/day at present. This growth can sustain four to five cows a ha consuming 13kg to 15kg DM grazed grass intake.
Producers that have high quality grass, capable of producing 20 litres plus, have been constantly monitoring grass growth by regular farm walks and have adjusted management accordingly. These producers have been maintaining stocking rates of five to six cows a ha (2-2.4 cows/acre). Some have cut back on nitrogen or have continued with nitrogen and made surplus silage.