Pondering profitable pastures
Macalister Demonstration Farm Update 537 (5th March 2021)
The cows are well fed (milk production above target), but the stocking rate is high because there is an area still out being land-formed, and the grass consumption on the remaining hectares is a little below target.
The milkers are currently grazing Paddock 1, which is 32 days rested since the previous grazing. The quantity of grass on offer is 3,000 kg DM/ha, a mixture of good quality ryegrass, and high clumps of poorer quality, high residue, seed-heady, Paspalum and Wild Millet. This paddock was not topped after the previous grazing. Now, the quantity of grass left after grazing is 2,000 kg, made up of 50% of ungrazed clumps, at 3,000 kg, and 50% of very hard grazed, and short, patches at 1,000 kg. So, the harvest or consumption rate, over the 32 growing days, has been 31 kg DM per ha per day.
This observed, in one paddock, consumption rate roughly matches the “back-calculation from milk” average consumption rate for the whole farm in the report table. Maybe the cows could have been forced to eat more of the clumps, and not so much grass would have been wasted, by removing the silage and/or forcing more feeds from the paddock. The cows would then have been much hungrier, with a lowered intake, and they would fall in milk production.
It is normal to have some grass (weedy, stemmy, soiled, high residue, dead), that should never be eaten by any cow that is required to produce at a high level. Topping to remove such poor quality feed is a cost, but it is part of the cow feeding balance. Topping helps grass consumption, grass utilisation, and ultimately, grass intake per cow. It does nothing to help grass grazed too short.
Consumption is the amount harvested, and utilisation is the proportion of the offer that is harvested. If utilisation is higher than 80% the cows are working too hard, usually eating grass down too short. Grass too short means poor regrowth. Cows “working too hard” means lowered intake and milk. It is the balance of consumption per hectare, and then with the appropriate stocking rate and supplement feeding, intake per cow, that matters for profit.
|FEED MARGIN PERFORMANCE||MDF TEN DAYS AGO||MDF THIS TEN DAYS||ANOTHER MID FARM||Units|
|Ten days to date:||20-Feb-21||28-Feb-21||28-Feb-21|
|Milker graze area||63||63||66||Ha|
|Average graze rest time||31||31||30||Days|
|Estm’d pasture consmp’n||34||36||25||kg DM/ha/day|
|Pasture consum’d per cow||7.4||7.9||8.6||kg DM/cow/day|
|Pasture growing spend||$6.19||$6.19||$6.13||$/ha/day|
|Estm’d pasture price||$183||$172||$246||$/T DM|
|Conc (incl additives)supp fed/cow||6.5||6.5||6.3||kg DM/cow/day|
|Conc (incl additives)supp avg price||$381||$393||$422||$/T DM|
|Hay/silage supp fed/cow||3.1||2.2||1.1||kg DM/cow/day|
|Hay/silage supp price||$267||$267||$294||$/T DM|
|Feed Conversion Efficiency||100||102||103||kg MS/tonne DM|
|Total feed intake/cow||16.3||16.0||15.9||kg DM/cow/day|
|NDF Fibre in diet||32.1%||31.6%||30.5%||% NDF|
|Milk Solids per cow||1.71||1.69||1.67||kg/cow/day|
|Milk price (less levies)/kg MS||$6.23||$6.23||$6.30||$/kg MS|
|Milk price (less levies)/litre||$0.50||$0.51||$0.46||$ per litre|
|All feed cost/cow||$4.66||$4.49||$5.14||$/cow/day|
|Margin over all Feed/cow||$5.98||$6.04||$5.39||$/cow/day|
|MOAF /ha /day||$27.33||$27.63||$15.53||$/ha/day|
|Farm MOAF per DAY||$1,722||$1,741||$1,025||$/day|