Long grass not always best for cows

Last updated 13:52 16/07/2013
Grass
QUALITY CONTROL: Agriseeds' Laura Oughton says long grass doesn't always mean good grass for dairy cows.

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Make sure your pastures are under control before calving, says an agrononomist.

Agriseeds' Laura Oughton said many farms had unusually high pasture covers this winter, but long grass didn't necessarily mean good pasture to milk on.

Oughton said all that long, lush grass might seem ideal for feeding to newly calved cows.

She said feeding less supplement and bringing cows home early to get on top of over-grown pastures were options for farmers.

"I've been on quite a few farms recently which have reached ceiling covers earlier than normal, and there's also supplement being fed at the moment which doesn't need to be."

She said the problem was that grass did not keep, so that once it reached a certain length, it started going off at the base.

"Pasture metabolisable energy (ME) and palatability drops right at a time we need to be putting high quality grazing in front of our milkers," said Oughton.

"They [cows] don't like it. They won't graze it evenly, and they won't perform as well as they should."

She told dairy farmers that if they started their first grazing round on long pasture, it could be quite hard to get quality back.

"There's still time to get that growth under control, and the result will be worth it. Having the right shape of pasture cover across the farm at the start of calving can make all the difference to spring production."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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