Autumn Pasture Management
Autumn Management needs to be viewed as an opportunity to set the farm up for the following year. The key is not to jeopardise pasture quality and focus on getting those last few litres, but to plan for the following Spring. It is important to measure with a plate meter regularly, budget ahead and plan for the covers required when cows go out in the spring.
- What cover do you plan to have on your farm at drying off?
- What cover do you plan to have when cows are housed or removed from the grazing area?
- What supplements will need to be fed to achieve the planned cover?
- For Spring calving herds your calving pattern is set therefore it is important to know what the demand will be for the following spring and how much feed you will need in the form of supplement and grazing to get you through the first round.
Feed budgeting is crucial and using a Plate Meter is vital at this time of the year
As a rule of thumb
A possible range for the start of the final round of grazing before closing for the winter is between October 5th to October 15th with colder and wetter farms starting earlier.
- Delaying the implementation beyond October 15th will result in a loss a significant amount of DM in spring of the following year.
- Try to have the first 25-30% of the farm closed in the first 10 days. This area has a re-growth interval of about 40 days (up to early December) with an average daily growth rate of 25kg/ha. before grass growth slows down for December and January. This 25-30% of the land area is the area which will be grazed first and used for grazing up to March 1st in the following year before substantial growth starts again in the spring.
- The next 30% of land to be grazed will have a 25-30 day re-growth interval before winter growth This then grows again in February and is ready for grazing in March the following spring.
- Many farms can be too slow to close off the initial 30% area since the farm can have a high farm cover in autumn. These farms can end up short of grass the following spring as the first 30% of area closed did not have a sufficient re-growth interval before winter. To speed up closing you can increase demand by removing supplements, by bringing extra stock into the system or by skipping into some lighter cover paddocks to graze off additional area quickly.
- . The remaining 40% of the farm is grazed up until conditions force stock to be removed or cows are dried off.