Wet weather spring tips

FarmWise consultants Ken Bartlett, Brent Boyce and Geoff Campbell have pulled together their top tips for managing a wet spring.

Have a wet weather plan – especially for the first rotation. Failure to plan is planning to fail.
Consider the following key points this Spring:

Know how many square metres each cow is being allocated per day.

Useful rules of thumb:

  • 40 square metres at 3500Kg DM/ha will offer 10 Kg DM/cow.
  • 40 square metres at 2500Kg DM/ha will offer 6 kg DM/cow.
  • 40 square metres /cow at a stocking rate of 2.5 cows/ha is a 100 day rotation
  • 33 square metres /cow at 3500 Kg DM /Cow will offer 8.25 DM/cow
  • 33 square metres a cow at a stocking rate of 3 cows /ha is a 100 day rotation.
If cows are going into covers of 3000+ KgDM/ha, three hours of grazing provides maintenance only.

Be proactive in any dry spells of weather – reduce cow’s grazing areas and increase supplement.

Always start grazing at the back of the paddock; and in wet weather you may go all grass:

  • Block grazing in the winter and early spring – always have square blocks if possible.
  • Add up the area eaten each week to ensure you are on the appropriate rotation.

 Check feed levels regularly:

  • Measure covers for paddocks the cows are going into – you need to know what you are feeding and if you are catching up on your feed.
  • Double check supplement usage (especially stacks) – it’s very easy to be using too much.

 On-off grazing is a great way to prevent soil and pasture damage, and help regrowth:

  • Use stand-off areas and sacrifice paddocks when it is prudent to do so.
  • When grazing sensitive soil or catchment areas – use buffer areas of grass around crops.
  • Feed the last break of the crop bordering that sensitive area on the last day – or don’t even graze it.

Diet and nutrition:

  • In wet weather, pasture utilisation drops – allow more pasture.
  • The DM% of pasture also drops – cows will need DRY matter – hay, baleage, straw, grain, PKE etc.  1 bale per 100 to 200 cows really helps with low DM% pasture.
  • Ensure that your cows have sufficient energy and fibre – protein is usually fine.
  • Keep Mg and Ca going to milkers and colostrums – 100-200 gms/cow of each.

Fertiliser and soils:

  • Use a plane or helicopter to spread fertiliser if conditions do not allow trucks or tractors on to the land. 
  • ProGibb can be a spray option if N can also be applied at the same time.
  • A little and often behind the cows with a bike spinner adding Urea, Ammo etc will also help keep feed moving for the 2nd and subsequent rounds.
  • Protect soil structure at the cost of having to clean up higher residuals in later rounds (mow then if needed).