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For the Future of Farming
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Get the cows out!

Afbeelding: brown and white dairy grazing

Early grazing maximises the proportion of grazed grass in the cow’s diet and we know the nutritional quality of spring grass is superior and cheaper than alternatives.

‘If in doubt, put them out’- This is a quote which might help you decide on when to put your freshly calved cows out this spring.

But how do we do this? 

  • Build up grass covers the previous autumn on your driest paddocks and graze these first in the spring.
  • As demand will outstrip supply in early spring restrict grazed grass to 13 kg/DM per cow per day and increase supplementation to 3 kg/head.
  • Apply nitrogen as soon as soil temperatures rise above 5 deg C.

Grazing strategies

Grazing in early spring will cause some sward damage, but if this damage is only slight then there won’t be any grass production loss in subsequent rotations.

On/off grazing is an effective way of minimising sward damage. Cows can be left to graze for 3 hours after each milking and then re-housed. Your cows must have an appetite for this to work. Dry matter intakes/milk yield/body condition won’t suffer either. Allocating grass allowances with strip wires, having multiple exit points in paddocks, movable water troughs all help to minimise sward damage and increase grass utilisation.

Train your cows on the first rotation to clean paddocks out well as this will have a positive impact on subsequent grass quality and utilisation. Aim for a post grazing height of 3.5 to 4 cm.