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Feeding pastures for profit

Dairy Australia, Dairy NSW and South East Local Land Services are working collaboratively to deliver 'Feeding Pastures for Profit', a program aimed at helping farmers gain skills and confidence in making major decisions impacting on farm profitability.

Two of the major issues addressed in this program are:

1. How much pasture do I allocate to the herd today?
2. What amount of supplements do I need to offer the herd to maximise my profit?

The program uses strategic concepts along with easy to use tools.

The first part of the program introduces the 'Rotation Right Tool' which provides control of pasture quality and allocation. By working with the right rotation length the pasture on offer will be consistently at the optimal stage of grazing. Once the tool is set up it allows the farmer to see how many feeds need to be allocated per paddock. Another advantage of the tool is that it sets up an easy to use visual that is a clear and concise form of communication that can be used by all personnel working on the farm.

The second part of the program is all about getting supplement use right. Individual farming systems have their own 'point' where offering the herd more supplement reduces farm profit as well as not using enough supplement will impact on potential profit not being realised. Again, a range of simple practical tools and concepts are used to identify where the cost of the last kilogram of feed offered to the herd is equal to the 'income' generated. Thus, each individual participant is able to identify their own 'point' for their farming system.

Recently, the fourth session of 'Feeding Pastures for Profit' was delivered by Phil Shannon of Shannon Farm Consulting to our local dairy farmers. One of the dairies visited was situated in Kangaroo Valley with an abundance of high quality ryegrass dominate pastures. Points of discussion included managing the spring surplus: controlling waste, rotation length controls quality and allocation controls quantity. Phil Shannon also examined what the ryegrass plant does in spring, measuring to identify change and fodder conservation as a grazing management tool.

Just before lunch the group inspected the paddock of the 'night before and that night's' areas of grazing. The farm walk provided the opportunity to see first-hand issues that were discussed earlier in the day. Additional, discussion points included post-grazing pressure, clumpology (evenness) of the pasture, crapology (texture of faeces) of the herd, pasture canopy closure and their impact on production. Phil Shannon's key take home message from the session was that all of these discussion points are measurable, and need to be measured in order to know where you are up to.

Feeding Pastures for Profit is a powerful program that helps make the most of the available feed resources, rather than changing the resources.

Further information:

Amanda Britton
Senior Land Services Officer – Pastures
02 4464 6007