The most important driver of a high feed margin is high grass consumption.
To ensure high grass consumption, every paddock must be consistently performing well.
At the MDF, paddock 21 is soon to be grazed. It has grown an average of 20 kg DM/ha/day since last grazing. The average dry matter consumed per day is now at 43 kg, much higher than the growth rate of this paddock. This high grass consumption is partly due to rotation shortening and consuming feed reserves. While there are better performing paddocks at the MDF, growing more grass per day, it is important to know that paddock 21 has not performed, and it is easily observed by eye that only 800 kg DM is available, without any need for satellites or plate meters.
What grass management inputs or factors have been at play in paddock 21?
- At the previous grazing it was grazed by the milkers for two days, then by the dry cows for 1 day. So grazed short, and back-grazed, significantly. Paddock 21 grass was probably not high when grazed previously. Big plants have more built-up reserves at the base, so, if the base (say 6 cm) is left there, big plants grow back faster than small ones.
- At this time of year in the past, consistently, in mid-September it takes 45 days to develop 3 leaves. On most farms, there is no sign of seed-heads rising, nor canopy closure occurring, so to get maximum quantity and quality grass, three leaves regrown should be the aim for this round.
- At the MDF, the dry cows walked out 38 days ago, and the current leaf count is 2.2 leaves so an average Leaf Appearance Rate (LAR) of 17 days. Counting one leaf, to judge the current LAR, is fraught with error. Using our 45 day guide for September, even if the LAR is now 14 days, paddock 21 needs 49 days rest to get to three leaves.
- Soil moisture may have been a bit wet in August, but is now only just adequate, and drying out fast.
- Grass colour is green enough, so soil N appears adequate. Soil P is probably ok, the soil K doubtful, but a soil test hasn’t been done for a while. The trace element Mo has not been applied for years.
Shortening the rotation rapidly at this time of year is a common occurrence in the MID because we want to get the cows milking well. However, we must keep in the front of our minds that we are aiming to grow the best quality grass and the most amount of it we can, for as long as our season allows. So, we need to set up the paddocks to do so, and in mid-spring, this should mean a longer rotation than is considered normal. This will allow a farm to grow more grass in the coming rounds and enable cows to milk at their peak for longer, especially later calving cows.
Grass consumption and litres/cow are the two main drivers of the feed margin, contributing significantly to profitability. It is worth thinking deeply about how your farm can manage these two drivers, to best improve your bottom line.
|FEED MARGIN PERFORMANCE||MDF TEN DAYS AGO||MDF THIS TEN DAYS||Units|
|Ten days to date:||31-Aug-20||10-Sep-20|
|Milker graze area||58||58||Ha|
|Average graze rest time||48||46||Days|
|Estm’d pasture consmp’n||38||43||kg DM/ha/day|
|Pasture consum’d per cow||11.7||12.4||kg DM/cow/day|
|Pasture growing spend||$2.28||$2.28||$/ha/day|
|Estm’d pasture price||$59||$53||$/T DM|
|Conc (incl additives)supp fed/cow||5.0||5.0||kg DM/cow/day|
|Conc (incl additives)supp avg price||$387||$387||$/T DM|
|Hay/silage supp fed/cow||0.0||0.0||kg DM/cow/day|
|Hay/silage supp price||$/T DM|
|Feed Conversion Efficiency||112||113||kg MS/tonne DM|
|Total feed intake/cow||16.5||17.2||kg DM/cow/day|
|NDF Fibre in diet||33.2%||33.4%||% NDF|
|Milk Solids per cow||1.86||1.96||kg/cow/day|
|Milk price (less levies)/kg MS||$5.72||$5.72||$/kg MS|
|Milk price (less levies)/litre||$0.44||$0.43||$ per litre|
|All feed cost/cow||$2.61||$2.58||$/cow/day|
|Margin over all Feed/cow||$8.01||$8.65||$/cow/day|
|MOAF /ha /day||$26.24||$29.84||$/ha/day|
|Farm MOAF per DAY||$1,522||$1,731||$/day|