Grass is the cheapest form of animal feed for both milk and beef production, and it is essential it is utilised to its full potential during the growing season.
May is usually the month of peak grass growth, therefore farmers should use good grassland management practices, such as grass budgeting, to obtain full utilisation during this period. Most farmers will have 60 – 70 units of Nitrogen (N) spread on the grazing platform. It is recommended to increase N application to 100 units per acre by early May. This can be applied in the form of CAN or Urea or as Target Fertilisers’ Ureamax + S, which is more environmentally friendly and very cost effective.
Obtaining maximum grass growth
The target for farmers is to have animals spend 18-21 days per rotation, with 2% of the animal’s body weight in grass available to them. This will ensure good weight gain while also maintaining the quality of the sward.
In paddocks where Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) have not been addressed, it is best to use an NPK+S product to obtain maximum grass growth. For this, we recommend Target Fertilisers’ 27-2.5-5+S CCF at 1.5 bags per acre. Using Sulphur (S) will increase N use efficiency, therefore improving protein levels and increasing grass palatability. Through this, better clean outs will be achieved, resulting in good regrowth ahead of the next rotation.
Managing surplus grass
Grass growth levels have increased from the end of April to early May due to higher soil temperatures across the country, therefore farmers should ensure their surplus grass is managed correctly and efficiently. Surplus grass exists when pre-grazing yields exceed 2,000 kg DM per Ha and grass growth exceeds herd demand. By implementing a good grassland management plan, which features regular measuring, will ensure that farmers will be sufficiently equipped with methods to manage their farm covers.
Dairy farmers should increase their stocking rate to 4.0 cows/ha and speed up grazing rotation ensuring a post grazing height of 3.5-4 cm. It is recommended to take out any surplus grass paddocks i.e. over 1800 kg DM/ha – 2000 kg DM Ha plus in the form of baled silage. This will maximise grass utilisation and condition swards to produce more grass during subsequent rotations, while also improving sward quality. It is best to wait and cut out paddocks at over 2000kg + DM per Ha so that round bales do not collapse due ensiling of short grass.
From late April onwards, grass supply is generally unrestricted on farms. The objective during the main grazing season is to maximise animal performance from an all grass diet. Maintaining high pasture quality is the most cost-effective way of achieving good animal performance. Through the use of high-quality fertilisers, grass growth can be aided to improve sward yield.