By Darren Sutton, FarmWise Consultant.
However, this must not come at the expense of forgetting about basic
Now is the time to turn our attention to how the summer will be
managed. Hopefully the rain will keep
arriving like last December’s did.
Long-term weather predictions can be inaccurate, so individual farm
plans need to be robust and flexible enough to cover all scenarios.
Here are some key things to consider when planning for this summer.
This is fundamental to get right.
The reason we adjust round length out is to build Average Pasture Cover
(APC) and match rotation with the slowing leaf appearance rate. We are looking for three leaves – having
three leaves appearing every 10 days makes for a 27-30 day round length.
With the use of supplements this lengthening is able to be done very
easily and quickly. Without adding in
supplements you need to be already lifting target pre-graze covers instead of
cutting silage, and reducing areas allocated per day. One way to help get cows to eat covers that
sit higher than 3,000 is to pre-mow in December, but stop in January.
Changing to a less frequent milking frequency like 3 in 2 or OAD won’t
reduce animal demand for about 6 weeks.
But this will protect body condition score through the months that young
cows usually lose more weight than the matured aged cows.
This November there have been very noticeable differences on how more
vegetative pastures have stayed where Nitrogen (N) has been applied compared to
no N being applied.
December and early January is a good time to look to push some feed
ahead of you into January. Nitrogen is the
most cost-effective supplement you can create when the weather conditions
allow. Boosting growth and lifting
pasture cover with N can help achieve the longer round length.
30kg of N per hectare in the form of Sustain or N-Protect is what you
are looking for now. This is also an
opportunity to add in some maintenance Potassium (K) input with the N, which
clover will also respond to.
The other tool is to reduce demand by starting to cull cows that are
empty or genuine culls. From the middle
of December any repeat offenders for mastitis, or lame cows that are older with
low PW and LW figures may be worth more culled.
This has the effect of lowering demand and feeding remaining cows
Once you get into January/February and you have some pregnancy tests, then
you have information you can make culling based decisions on.
If you are doing all AI then keep the heat detection aids in good order.
The use of SGL for the last 10-14 days of AI will help lower your empty
rate, but still maintain a tighter calving spread.
Make sure you have a pregnancy test plan in place now as scanners get
booked up quickly. Doing an early pregnancy
test at 12 weeks can help aid culling decisions earlier.
Have you revised your financial budget yet? I went over this topic in more detail last
There may be some ability to spend some money on necessities like
repairing races or fertiliser. Are there
effluent upgrades that need to be planned, booked and accounted for? Prioritise what is most important to attack this
Finally, make sure you arrange some time off farm at some stage this
summer. This can help clear your mind
and look at your business in a fresh way.
Spending time with family is a priority that we can sometimes fail to
value highly enough.
Have a safe and happy Christmas!