Making the most from Spring grazing
With the arrival of Spring and the onset of the grazing season, we face a new set of challenges. This is on top of the desperate situation the majority of dairy producers are in over milk income. It may push many producers to graze cows for longer, or, even for the first time.
What we must ask ourselves is, "how are we going to maximise the output from grazed grass using the high yielding Holstein cow?
These are some practical tips to help decision making in the next few weeks:
- Complete a forage budget for the year and, decide on the area to conserve.
- Walk the grazing fields a month before turnout to take average covers.
- Ensure slurry and nitrogen are applied 8 weeks before turnout.
- Check all fences, including electric fences.
- Clean water troughs and, check for any leaks.
- Make sure tracks are clear of any sharp objects or stones.
- Organise facilities so that cows are not waiting to go back to grazing after milking.
- Teach staff how to move quietly so that they are not stressed.
Selecting animals to turnout
- Start initially with pregnant cows over 150 days in milk giving less than 28 litres. Weather and grass growth can change this selection.
- High yielding fresh cows may be turned out but, ideally for short periods after the TMR has been fed to them in the morning.
- Do not put out any sick cows, especially lame and cows with mastitis.
- Tail paint cows to identify cows that lose pregnancy.
- Set grazing targets kg/DM for grazing cover. Target 2,700 to 2,900kg DM/Ha and residual covers after grazing should be 1,500 to 1,600kg DM/Ha. Any covers that get higher than this, include it in first cut. Complete first cut early to make it available for second round.
- Work out the approximate days it will take to get round first grazing. Pick heaviest covers to graze first.
- Don't expect cows to eat 14kg DM/day in the first 2 weeks. Allocate 4kg DM/day in days 1 to 3, 8kg DM/day in days 4 to 8 and so on. Balance the ratio accordingly.
- Work out available DM, for example, 100 cows with a target of 10kg DM/day which gives a total of 1,000kg DM/day. If the cover is 2,700 and the residual left is 1,600kg then 0.91ha is required per day.
- Live by the targets you set but be flexible to change as growth changes.
Getting the most from spring grass
Good planning and accurate execution will help prevent management mistakes being made at turnout, however, there is still one hidden nutritional danger.
Spring grass has high levels of rumen available protein that the cow cannot use efficiently. This results in high levels of rumen ammonia which is transported in the blood as urea. High urea levels raise uterine pH, which can have a potentially toxic effect on spermatozoa and oocytes and, can cause hormonal imbalances by depressing progesterone in the early breeding period.
Advanced Nutrition has designed a new dairy concentrate called GrazeMore+N to counteract this effect. We have included Novatan, a natural blend of specific essential oils and trace elements within the dairy compound. Novatan simultaneously increases the microbial protein yield from the rumen whilst also increasing the quality of by-pass protein. As part of this process ammonia is reduced by up to 40%. A very high proportion of the extra "by-pass protein" is totally digestible as it has not undergone any inhibitory treatments to prevent its breakdown in the rumen.
The performance of dairy cows is signficantly improved with GrazeMore+N
- Increased milk production by 1.5 litres/cow/day
- Increased milk protein levels
- Reduction of urea in the milk
- Reduced incidence of metabolic disorders
- Very cost effective solution to increase by-pass protein in dairy feeds and diets