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A long, dry summer: plan ahead

Dairy, Featured


A dry Waikato farm in Feb 2019

Paddocks are crisp underfoot and a dusty-brown colour – not a nice view for farmers! Throughout the country we now need 75 – 150mm to make a difference to farms.

Here are a few tips on how to plan ahead with the hot, dry conditions that we’ve seen far too much of this year.

Hope for rain, but plan for dry:
Make a feed plan for your dairy herd from now to mid March.  Be sure to allow for the PKE limit for Fonterra farms to 3kg per cow. Think through all your different options. Plans should include sale of empty and cull cows, alternative feed options and costs.

If rain is predicted:
Ensure you’re up to full zinc dosage: with all the dead matter around in these dry conditions, after some rain there is likely to be a big spike in spore counts.  Also, be sure to use caution around nitrogen application before rain – rock-hard ground means the fertilizer will likely just be washed away, rather taken up. You’re better to hold off and hope for a follow-up event in a couple of weeks once the grass recovers.

After significant rainfall:
Using the supplements after rain is important as dry grass rots down first leaving farms with even less feed than pre-rain.
Think about the growth rates following the rain – there is not likely to be any response for some time as the grass is currently at wilting point, so supplements are still going to be required well into March.

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