result of this has meant that many farms have achieved their target body condition score (BCS) and
high average pasture covers (APCs). This means we are in the box
seat to achieve a great start to the season.
So, how do make sure we do not waste this good position?
spring rotation planner (SRP) is as fundamental as having cows at 5.0 BCS (R2s
and R3s at 5.5) and an APC of 2,200+ at the planned start of calving (PSC). The SRP ensures that we work our way down
through the APC to meet a typical balance date of when grass growth is meeting
used to set the PSC to about six weeks from balance date. However, with increased
availability of supplements over the past 20-30 years, PSC has moved out to be
about eight weeks from balance date.
way, the principle is the same — trying to allocate the pasture in an accurate
way so we don’t run covers too low and fall into a feed deficit that cannot be
How does it work?
allocates more area each day to be grazed from the start of calving from a
winter round length (for example, 90 to 100 days), through to when feed supply
(pasture growth rate and supplements fed) matches with cow demand. In the King
Country region, this is usually around mid to late September. At this stage you want to be on the round
length that suits your stocking rate in order to maintain this round through
October and November, which is usually around the 21 to 25-day mark.
The simplest SRP can be created by drawing a straight line on a piece of paper
from your PSC to feed balance date (for example, from 20 July to 15
September). The round length (days) is
on the Y-axis from 1 to 100 days. The
date is on the X-axis. See the example
below shows the increase in area that you can use per day as the round length
this really ramps up during the last three weeks, as the cow’s ability to
increase her intake has developed and the majority of the herd has calved.
demonstrates the importance of holding the round slow to start, as it ensures
you have the APC still above 1,900 to complete the job.
Where can I get one from?
one yourself following the examples above, or there is a template on the
DairyNZ website which allows you to put your own farm details in and print off
we have a more detailed version of the SRP that puts in your calving rate and
supplements available for feeding. This therefore allocates pasture and
supplements more accurately to your dry and milking cow mobs, to ensure each
mob is being fed at the correct rate.
Tips when starting with a high APC
there is a risk that if the high APCs are still present by the PSC, we won’t
get the right mobs eating the right target pre-graze covers.
can save all the 3,300+ covers for the springer and dry mobs, and get the
milkers to start in the 3,000 to 3,300 covers and work down to a 2800 to 2900
If you do
have a high APC, then you need to run the more detailed SRP. With this version, it will calculate from
your calving rate report exactly how many hectares you will need to reserve for
all the calving mobs. These mobs are
best to deal with the highest covers, where practical (excluding drains, steep
hills and so on).
Then you take
your latest pasture walk data and work out what pre-graze covers the milkers
are going to have to deal with. For milk
production, 3,000 is best, but you may have to ask the milkers to deal with a
few 3,500 pre-graze paddocks to start with.
Better to do that at the start than get to September and realise you
have some 4,000 covers that your small mob of dry cows cannot deal to.
If you have
not used a SRP before, try one this year to ensure the best use of pasture and
feed on farm while enjoying the benefits of a more relaxed spring, and better