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Grazing Management: Decisions that get results

Whilst grazing dairy cows there are fundamentally 3 key areas of focus, regardless of system type

  • Maximising cost-effective animal performance i.e. maintain or improve milk yields whilst reducing feed rates
  • Achieve high animal health status
  • Maintain optimum milk constituents

Management and nutritional activities whilst grazing can get complicated, but we must ensure that those actions taken will actively focus on at least one of the above.

Intake is king, and turning cows, particularly higher-yielding cows into slightly higher grass covers can increase intake per bite and therefore total grass intake. This may come at a cost of a clean residual so consider topping or quickly going over the field with youngstock to allow for a clean re-growth.

Grass dry matter and daylight length are often overlooked when considering intake potential. Consider a 12kg DMI of grass to be typical (14kg DMI is possible), at 22% dry matter this equates to a fresh weight intake of 55.5kg which is achievable, however, after rain if dry matter drops to 17% cows need to achieve 70.5 kg fresh weight. Along with a buffer feed, this intake becomes difficult to achieve.

Similar can be said for daylight hours. Cows graze very little or even not at all through night-time hours, therefore ensure grazing is budgeted to take this into account.

For more information on NWF Grass Seeds or our Grassland Services, get in touch on 0800 756 2787, or speak to your local NWF Sales Specialist.

By NWF Technical Development Co-ordinator, Beth Howells.

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