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Grass growing too fast for farmers

Dairy NZ is reporting a highly unusual phenomena on farms around the country – too much grass!

Unusually good pasture growth for this time of year is leading Dairy leaders to warn farmers their management must be top-notch to ensure they don’t face quality problems later on.

Craig McBeth, Dairy NZ’s regional teams manager, says they’ve been getting calls from confused farmers around the country, asking for advice on how to deal with an unseasonal surplus of feed.

“It’s important to identify a developing pasture surplus early, create a plan and follow it to hit target grazing residuals.

“If you don’t get it right, pasture can deteriorate resulting in lower pasture quality at a time when milking cows need the best quality pasture you can give them to maximise milk production.” 

Mr McBeth says possible solutions include scaling back on fertiliser application, speeding up grazing rotation or closing up grass to make silage.

“If pastures are more than 3200kg dry matter/hectare, the milking cows are going to struggle to get through it. This pasture can be allocated to the remaining dry cows, or leave these paddocks out of the rotation altogether. It is better to keep 90 percent of the farm in good order rather than see the whole farm become affected.

“Rotation lengths can be faster than normal but faster than 40 days is risky for this time of year, as temperatures are still limiting new leaf emergence.

“Grass, and therefore silage quality, changes very slowly at this time of year, so the grass can wait until the weather is suitable before you mow. In preparation for this, silage inoculants should be considered,” says Craig.

Dairy NZ is advising anyone with a surplus of feed to head to their website,

-Weatherwatch and CountryTV


Zelda Wynn on 15/08/2013 2:40am

Has the calibre of decent informed farmers dropped? It seems there are many options to cope. Isn’t it great dairynz offers help.

Guest on 15/08/2013 4:10am

Gee wizz, it’s either a drought and no grass or there is too much grass, why can’t people be happy with their lot???
Use it or save it, just like water.


Andrew on 15/08/2013 1:04am

It’s not really a problem is it. Dairy farmers have had several record payouts in the past couple of years, followed by Govt help during last summers dry spell. Now they have too much grass?

Puhipuhi on 15/08/2013 5:25am

Indeed, it is understandable that dairy farmers are confused after the events of the last two weeks when every organisation and member of the public in NZ have had a crack at them somewhat reminiscent of The Little Red Hen story. You will live long enough to see that you will get what you deserve as the industry moves off shore leaving the leaches and rest off you to perhaps chill out and try smoking it instead of feeding it to cows.

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