Preparing for autumn grazing is essential at this time of the year as evenings begin to draw in earlier, each day is bonus territory with ample amounts of grass that will need to be grazed before conditions limit our grazing intensity.
As a result of a challenging milk price and trying to manage cashflow for the next number of months the aim should be to maximize the amount of grazed grass in the diet of autumn and spring herds to extend the grazing season.
Extending the grazing season
In some situations to extend the grazing season, I would advise that cows are offered some supplement in the form of both good quality grass silage and a top up of an additional supply of energy in the form of a mix or concentrates via the milking parlour.
Simple mixes that are cereal based with effective fibre and beet pulp will provide merit for a milk response. Connolly’s RED MILLS 18% Premium Dairy Cubes in bags would be most suitable in this situation. It is important to note when supplementary feeds are introduced, grazing intensity can be compromised, therefore it is important that the feed offered is matched to the cows demand.
Only offer supplements if there is an insufficient daily grass allocation. It is important to note that the feed value of autumn grass is 80-85% of spring grass. The sugar content will also be lower, together with a higher proportion of stem to leaf in autumn grazed grass.
Allocating grazing ground
In preparing for autumn grazing it is important to allocate a portion of the farm for each grazing day and to start closing paddocks from 10 October onwards, with an overall aim of having 60% of the grazing area grazed by the first week of November.
Where possible graze paddocks to 3.5 – 4cm to encourage tillering. In order to achieve autumn grazing objectives, it is important to plan ahead via the use of an autumn rotation grazing planner. The 60:40 planner is simple and easy to follow: a 50 hectare (ha) farm would break down at 30ha:20ha. While the dates vary slightly depending on your soil type, in general from the first week in October to the first week in November you graze 60% (30ha using the example above – 1ha/day) of your farm. The remaining 40% (20ha) should be grazed over the following month (0.7ha/day) bringing you up to December.
As you graze each paddock in this final rotation from early October, close it off to recover in time for early grazing the following February. Given that these will be the first paddocks you graze in the spring, try to ensure these are your drier more sheltered paddocks.
For further advice on preparing for autumn grazing and correct diet supplementation, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Connolly’s RED MILLS nutrition team.