Stick to the plan – Brian Frost

We have been sticking to the plan to survive the dry weather and this has involved:

  1. Extending the grazing round in January (when the turnips started) to get onto a 40ish day round (l.5ha/day).
  2. Introducing grass silage to fill the gap of grass DM and going from 30 to 40 day round.
  3. Feeding turnips at 4m2/cow/day.

The current situation on our farm

  • There are currently 326 cows and 112 calves on farm.
  • Feed: The cows are all grazing 1.5 ha/day (40 day round). Also they are getting 7kg meal, 1/2 – 1kg molasses, 2 kgDM grass silage and 4 kgDM turnips per cow/day. The calves are grazing 0.15 – O.2ha/day along with ad-lib PKE.
  • Production: To date is 117,854 kgMS (compared with 125,009 kg MS at the same time last season). Our current production is 7.3-7.5 kgMS/ha/day and 1.65-1.7 kg MS/cow/day.
  • Cow condition: 4.4 – 4.5.
  • Minerals: Zinc and the Altum mix is going through the water. Causmag, salt and lime flour are being added to the meal.
  • Average pasture cover is 2525 kgDM/ha.

Supplements

  • Molasses: We have bought 30 tonne, which adds up to 105 tonne so far this season. We will keep feeding around 12 kg/cow/day through the next few months.
  • Meal: The current meal mix is 90% PKE, 10% soya hull/minerals. This is working well and will continue through the next 8 weeks at least. The cows have stayed at around 6 – 7 kg/cow/day through the last 6 weeks, the plan is to feed around 7 kg/cow/day through the rest of the season.
  • The fluidiser system has helped to keep the system moving at the higher rate of PKE.

Targets

The main targets through the rest of the season are more about round length and pre-grazing pasture levels (we are hoping to get to the 3 leaf stage before grazing) so residuals are not so important.

NB: so long as our round is on target we don’t mind if the residuals get higher.

Effluent

We followed the cows with l0mm/ha until we ran out after about a 30 day period. Hopefully next year a full pond will increase the length of irrigation to 60+ days. No other nitrogen has been used in February through to March, apart from that applied with effluent.

Mating

This finished on the 24th December. The first pregnancy test was in December and the second on the 11th February with our test results showing 67 percent in calf at six weeks and ten percent empty.

We used CIDRs with the following results:

39 CIDRS went in on 22nd September

Early AB 19 48.7%
Second/third AB  6 15.4%
Bull  6 15.4%
Short gestation  3  7.7%
Empty  5 12.8%
Total in calf 87.2%

32 CIDRS went in on 16th October

Early AB 20 62.5%
Bull  6 18.8%
Short gestation  6 18.8%
Empty  0  0.0%
Total in calf 100%

Fescue problems going forward

This is how we are tackling our fescue establishment issues.

Ex turnip paddocks

  • Fallow until 10th March (unless substantial rain occurs before then).
  • Apply Roundup herbicide pre-drilling (2.7L/ha of good high spec stuff plus Pulse).
  • Wait for 2 days then drill in new tall fescue (cross drilling is recommended if the drill has wide row spacings (150mm). If they are 75mm we can do one single pass).
  • If possible, drill new fescue with DAP at 120kg/ha down the spout rather than broadcast. Trials have shown this to be one of the most important aspects to direct drilling technology (getting fertilizer down with the seeds).
  • Roll after finished or after drilling.
  • Immediately apply 1.2kg/ha Atrazine via a 200L/ha water rate. This will give us 90% Poa control.
  • Wait and monitor for weeds. Ensure slugs don’t come in from surrounding paddocks – I sometimes suggest a round of bait outside of the paddock to avoid this, but it will depend of these are in annual for you.

We will introduce clover and chicory in the spring. Poor performing fescue paddocks will be undersown with Winter Star annual ryegrass and will be cropped again in Oct/Nov 2015.

Here’s hoping the rain arrives soon for us all. Remember fescue is a viable cultivar!

On the home front we are back into the routine of school and sports etc and running the children here and there, but we’re also taking time to enjoy some water skiing at the lake and time out with friends when we can.

BF atrazine Mar blog

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