As with the weather, grass growth has been quite variable recently, growth in the north east area for the last couple of days of April has been around 40-60kg/DM/HA, behind where you would like it for the time year and below what it was 10 days ago.

Grass Management

  • Stocking rate can be pushed up to as high as a 4-5LU/HA in excellent growing conditions but this may not be possible at the minute.
  • If you are running a very tight stocking rate on the milking platform as it is, consider taking out small opportunistic cuts of silage regularly rather than holding a big area out at once – it leaves you with greater flexibility.
  • May is an ideal month for reseeding, there is usually a surplus of grass in the rotation and the turnaround between burning-off and the first grazing is minimal.
  • Apply nitrogen little and often, 20 – 25 units/acre for each application in a 3 week rotation.
  • Don’t forget P & K, it is often the case that growth in paddocks slows down mid-season due to these two nutrients not being applied. Watery slurry is great, or 10-10-20.  


dairy summer meal feedingSummer Meal Feeding

As growth rallies, and grass becomes abundant, there is a temptation to remove and/or reduce meal from the diet. On an average day in May, grass sustains about 25kg of milk yield (19kg DM intake), if cows are achieving greater than this continuously, it is unlikely the extra energy required is coming from grass, the animal is either burning fat or she is being fed meal.

Depending on the cow type, 3-4kg of meal can be fed without substituting grass out of the diet, meaning it is complementing the grass and owing to extra production. Going above this level automatically pulls grass out of the diet, but this grass may not be there in the first place and there is silage pits to fill too. Feeding above 4kg is only necessary if cows are doing 30kg and upwards. A 14% crude protein nut/ration is sufficient, with the high protein grass that is out there now.

The best grass quality month is gone by us already, as May grass does not carry the same weight as April, cows are at or coming to their peak yield and expected to ideally go in-calf this month. May is possibly not the month to make big dietary changes, there is plenty of time to make savings on meal in mid-late summer when cows are not under pressure.

It is often thrown out there that summer meal feeding is unjustified, rationalise this on your own farm by considering what yield you would have without meal (25KG) versus the yield you are achieving with meal in the diet. How does the extra milk yield above 25kg compare to the cost of the meal fed?