Thursday, 16 September 2021 08:55

Look out for pasture with 'no guts'

Written by  Staff Reporters
Glen McFarlane, GrainCorp Feeds. Glen McFarlane, GrainCorp Feeds.

Waikato dairy farmers may face challenges from pasture with low nutritional value as they head into spring and balance date approaches.

That's the view of GrainCorp Feeds' technical support manager Glen McFarlane.

"We're 15-20 days from when grass growth is supposed to meet feed demands," says McFarlane.

"The growth seems fine, but I think the nutritional value of our pastures could be low. We've had low sunlight hours this winter/autumn, which means sugar levels in the grass will have dropped. We can't afford to have our herds undernourished."

McFarlane points out that at this time of the season, the energy demands on a cow is at its highest. Energy spent during calving and pregnancy must be replenished if milk production is to be profitable. His main concern is making sure farmers' herds are getting the calories they need to stay healthy.

"Each cow is running a marathon every day in terms of energy loss. Farmers have to put that energy back in. If a cow is 25% down on calories, that energy has to come from somewhere else. If it isn't from feed, it'll be taken from the cow's own system. In the end, the farmer will pay for it in dropped production and fertility."

When it comes to solving farm problems, McFarlane takes a sequentia approach. It begins with listening.

"It's about listening to the farmer, working out what the challenges are from the farmer's point of view. Once I understand the issues, it's about ranking them in order of timing and impact. What can we change right now that will help financially? What are the bigger problems we can deal with later? Sometimes it's a combination; there's a problem coming up in six months, but we need to do the right things now to set us up properly. If we don't, the dominos fall badly."

The current calving period is a good example of this.

"If a farmer's calving spread is too wide, it affects next year's mating season. Let's say some calves arrive two months late; that'll mean up to 60 days of lost lactation next season. Farmers can lose a lot of money at the front end."

More like this

Supplements filling pasture protein deficit

A deficit in pasture protein levels last summer, combined with a good payout, has seen dairy farmer demand for quality, cost-effective protein-rich supplements soar. according to a feed importer.

Transition period critical for stock

GrainCorp Feeds is offering dairy farmers advice on transition feeding for their calving season as a means of improving cow health and lifting milk production, reports general manager Daniel Calcinai.

National

Feds stalwart to step down

Outspoken Federated Farmers leader Chris Lewis is stepping down from the farmer lobby after 17 years of service.

Machinery & Products

India boosts fert subsidy

India plans to double its budgeted 2021-22 fertiliser subsidies to a record of more than 1.55 trillion rupees (US$20.64 billion)…

Kicking lameness into touch

Lameness in dairy cows can have a significant effect on a businesses' bottom line, with vets suggesting that each case…

Single row concept delivers results

While Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) has become increasingly popular over the last decade, German company Amazone is looking to take…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Fake and cheap

OPINION: First they demanded plant-based 'milk', now they want it priced cheaper than real milk.

Cannon fodder?

OPINION: The recent high-profile Mycoplasma bovis announcement from the Government in Hamilton featured Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture Minister…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter