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Pasture growth exceeds expectations

TONY BENNY
Last updated 13:29 19/07/2013

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As a few early calves arrived on Canterbury dairy farms this week, there were positive signs for the new season with good pasture covers throughout the region, says DairyNZ regional leader Virginia Serra.

"When we are talking to farmers, they are feeling quite positive and the main thing you consider now is the pasture cover on the milking platform. Is it where it should be for calving? And yes, in most cases it is," Serra said.

Pasture growth had exceeded expectations in both June and July.

"The Methven area has been quite affected with the snow and they are perhaps just a little bit below target, but they are still quite happy with the amount of feed on the platform."

Winter crops on unirrigated runoffs has been lighter than normal because of a dry autumn and, in some cases, snow and mud made feed utilisation poor.

"But farmers are so used to dealing with this stuff and there is always a bit of extra feed around," said Serra.

"We know that winter can bring this, so farmers in the affected area always have extra feed on hand and I don't think anybody was caught out."

She said that although pastures were very wet, that was not causing any damage on milking platforms because there were no cows grazing there yet.

"The cows are on the support blocks. It looks a bit messy, they are probably wasting a bit of feed and they look a bit muddier than what you would like, but it's not a big issue."

Indications were that Canterbury cows are in good condition for calving, but Serra urged farmers to keep an eye on young stock, not only heifers due to calve but also rising 1-year-olds, which will be mated in mid-October.

"They are usually the ones that suffer the most when we have periods of bad weather. It's very important that we look after them."

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