Spring Grazing Management
Early spring grass is extremely digestible and high in crude protein. To capitalise on the benefits of grazed grass, animals should be turned out to pasture directly early-mid February ground conditions permitting. The main objectives of spring grazing management are to increase the proportion of grazed grass in the diet and to condition swards for subsequent grazing rotations.
Difficult Spring Grazing Conditions
Three daily objectives for grazing in wet weather are:
- Feed the cow
- Minimise damage
- Residuals (if possible)
The only way a farmer knows if a paddock is fit for grazing is to walk it. If there are 30 paddocks on the farm and 29 are waterlogged, we should expect cows to be grazing the 1 paddock that’s fit for grazing.That’s the lengths we need to go to the achieve days at grass this spring.
- Farmers should stay focused & alert to weather. Take opportunities when they present themselves.
- Make an effort to get cows out with an appetite. Take cows off the paddock if they are finished grazing or if they are poaching
- Hold cows in the shed/yard after milking time with no access to silage. Cows need to be miked at 3pm for a farmer to have any chance of achieving a 2nd grazing bout following evening milking.
- If grazing, the paddock should be very dry, have multiple access points, low cover (allocate larger area than heavy cover), ideally the paddock to be reseeded this year/ underperforming paddock
- If feeding silage by night, make sure that it has ran out by the following morning if planning to put cows out grazing the next day. Silage is a bulky feed and will inhibit grass intake
- If you walk the farm and there are no paddocks available for grazing (waterlogged/snow etc.), unfortunately cows will have to be housed.
- Make sure to get cows out grazing at the 1st opportunity again!