Grass advice: Time to end the back seat approach

The end of the first round on some farms is fast approaching, whereas others still have a long way to go before the whole farm is grazed.

The variability is huge around the country in terms of the amount of area grazed. Whilst some farms have almost 90% of the farm grazed, others have as little as 40% of the farm grazed.

In some areas – during the month – farmers had to resort to housing animals full-time due to the poor-grazing conditions placing them considerably behind reaching their target area grazed.

As grass growth is predicted to reach 45kg of DM/ha/day in areas next week, some lowly-stocked farmers will soon be hitting magic day – when grass growth will meet demand.

Although for highly-stocked farmers this may not be the case for another week.

It is important that as grass growth increases and growth meets demand, any supplementation being fed needs to be reduced – particularly any silage being fed.

It is time for farmers to be proactive about their grass decisions and go to their first grazed paddock and see what’s on it.

If there is a cover of 1,000-1,200kg of DM/ha, you should consider grazing it straight away in an effort to maintain pasture quality.

At a recent grass walk, one farmer had 1,200kg of DM/ha on his first grazed paddock and intended on finishing his first round by night and grazing this paddock by day.

In the case of farmers who are behind target in their first round, they need to look at what paddocks are left to be grazed, assess the grass covers (including their first grazed paddock) and make decisions based on this.

The focus for these farmers needs to be on getting as much area grazed before the start of the second round; the best way to do this is to concentrate on grazing lower covers.

If paddocks are gone too strong you may need to consider skipping over them and closing them for bales to be cut in the second round. However, for highly-stocked farms the last thing you want to be doing is skipping over heavy paddocks, as this could put the farm under pressure in the next round.

The target is to not let your average farm cover drop below 500kg of DM/ha when going into the second round.

Additionally – if you haven’t already done so – you should try to get the remaining nitrogen (N) fertiliser spread this week to reach the target of 70 units before April 1.