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Feed field days address fluctuations

Monday, 24 August 2015

Feed field days address fluctuations

Tips and information to help manage the ups and downs of fluctuating milk price will be provided at a series of DairyNZ events in September and October.

The Feed Tactics field days will focus on helping farmers get the best returns from all feeds used on farm.

The nationwide events follow on from one-on-one feed review visits which provided more than 750 farms with an assessment of feed allocation and grazing management in early spring.

DairyNZ’s Sean McCarthy says about one third of the farms visited were ‘spot on’ with their feed management, with the majority just needing slight refinements.

“Most farmers just needed to make a few tweaks to their pasture management to ensure pasture growth and quality were maximised,” says Sean. “For many of these farmers feed allowance was an issue. They were overestimating the amount of feed a cow can eat in early lactation and therefore leaving slightly higher than target residuals and grazing too much area per day,” says Sean.

Sean says this is just one example where changes in feed management can really pay off down the track.

“Profitable farmers, no matter what system they run, have a ‘pasture first’ mentality. They measure and work to optimise the cheapest feed source – home grown pasture – and then incorporate supplements where a clear economic response is achieved.”

“At a $3.65 milk price the difference between poor feed management, where little assessment of indicators such as grazing residuals are made, and optimal feed management, where pasture decisions are based on accurate feed allocation, can be worth hundreds of dollars per hectare,” says Sean. “Even a few tweaks to daily management can make a difference.” (see diagram)

“The events will help dairy farmers identify areas where they can make these ‘tweaks’ and also get their staff on board.”

The field days will focus on grazing management skills; effective use of supplements and developing an efficient feed management process for the farm team.

DairyNZ experts from research and development will provide in-paddock demonstrations and practical tips for allocating pasture. Milk response to supplement and decision rules around supplement use to ensure the best return will also be covered.

“For all farmers the ability to add in or take out the correct supplements as pasture supply, milk price and climate dictate, is important to help keep costs under control,” says Sean.

For field day details visit

Event details:

North Island: September 15, Putaruru; September 16, Gordonton; September 17, Whakatane; September 23, Waitoa; September 24, Reporoa; September 25, Te Awamutu; October 5, Takapau; October 6, Manawatu; October 7, Eketahuna; October 8, Taupo; October 12, Hikurangi; October 13, Lower Northland; October 14, Inglewood; October 15, Hawera.

South Island: September 21, Takaka; September 22, Rai Valley; September 29, Mid-Canterbury; September 30, North Otago; October 1, North Canterbury; October 8, Hari Hari; October 9, Grey Valley; October 20, Winton; October 21, Wyndham; October 22, South Otago.


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