With cows turning out across the region, the priority is to maximise margins from grazing as Alan Webster, Technical Trading Manager with Massey Feeds discusses.

The production from grazing varies significantly. Last year, according to one major costing scheme the average dairy farmer produced 1130 litres per cow from grazed grass – around 6.5 litres per day of the grazing season. The top 25% produced 1900 litres or 10.5 litres per day.

That is a huge difference worth around £177 per cow at 23ppl. Increasing milk from grazing by just one litre per cow per day over the grazing season would boost margins by over £40 per cow at current prices so this would be a good target for all dairy farmers. But how do you go about doing it?

Have a plan

Plan your grazing rotations and manage against the plan. Intakes will be maximised when cows are turned in when covers are around 2800kgDM/ha and taken out when cover are around 1500kgDM/ha.

Measure grazing

If you know how much grass is ahead of the cows and how fast it was growing you can manage more accurately. A plate meter could be an excellent investment. Watch our Grass Check results for an assessment of the value of grazing.

Think long term

Manage grazing well in early season and growth and quality will be maintained. Lose quality and quantity early on and it can affect the whole season.

Maintain quality

Feed cows grass at the three leaf stage to maximise intakes and production. Don’t let grass get too old and stemmy.

Accept grass isn’t perfect

Despite what some people say, grazed grass is not the ideal feed for dairy cows. It contains too much degradable protein and is low in many key minerals. High sugars and low fibre can cause problems with acidosis. It needs careful supplementation if cows are going to meet their potential. Make sure you use supplementary feeds formulated to provide the balance of protein and minerals to allow your cows to make the most of grazing. By providing exactly what cows need, our FiMLAC range has been shown to help increase production at grazing, improve conception rates and boost milk quality.

New feed for spring calvers

We have launched a new Spring/Summer feed especially designed for Spring Block calving herds.

FiMLAC Grazer Nuts is a 16% protein nut, with a 135/105 reverse ratio MPE/MPN. It contains 25% Sugar Beet and 13% Hi Pro Soya meal as standard, and is to be fed at a rate of 2kg per day.

The main benefit of this feed is that it contains the minimum requirements of all minerals and vitamins in just 2kg. Using our FiMLAC mineral pack, all zinc, manganese and selenium are included in organic forms. Four different forms of copper are included to help prevent copper lock- up by iron  sulphur and molybdenum.

Novatan is also included as standard to help reduce excess nitrogen levels in the diet which are associated with feeding high levels of grass.

Magnesium is included at 1%, and we have increased sugar levels in the feed to mask any bitter taste this may cause.

With added pressures on margins, this is the ideal feed to enable spring calvers to make the most of their grazing system.

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