What to do with a feed surplus
- Make hay, silage or “baleage” with pasture during the spring flush.
- Making hay in autumn is almost impossible, because shorter days are not hot enough for good drying.
- Making autumn silage can also be tricky, because pasture can be too wet, and autumn days are not hot enough to wilt it.
- Bring in extra stock to eat the excess pasture feed - buy them or borrow them.
- Top any surpluses that arise through the year.
What to do in a feed deficit?
- Feed out the hay, silage and baleage made during flush periods.
- When trouble is forecast, apply nitrogen fertiliser at least 6-8 weeks beforehand and after some rain. Avoid applying it when it’s hot and dry.
- Sell stock or graze them off the farm
- Some more pasture problems
Problem 8 - no good grass.
- Most of the good grasses have disappeared from the pasture.
- There is very little ryegrass and cocksfoot present.
- Browntop, Yorkshire fog and harsh-feeling rats tail dominate the pasture.
- Weed grasses, like paspalum and summer grass, dominate pastures in dry summer and autumn.
- Renovate the pasture and resow suitable new species.
- Check soil fertility and review fertiliser policy at the same time.
- Change grazing management to encourage tillering and prevent grasses going to head.
Problem 9 - lousy horse paddocks.
- Your horse pastures are unevenly grazed and unproductive.
- Some areas are grazed so closely that they resemble a closely mown lawn.
- Dung-covered areas are full of tall, uneaten pasture and weeds.
- The paddocks will be "horse-sick" - intestinal parasites will be circulating freely from these overgrazed pastures to the animals.
- Remove the horses on to clean pasture if possible.
- Defoliate the long pasture areas and either remove or harrow the dung heaps.
- When the pasture recovers, graze with another animal type to break the parasite cycle.
- Introduce rotational when grazing the horse pastures.
- Remove dung regularly once some clean pasture is available for grazing.
- Renovate the pastures with species and cultivars designed for horse grazing.
Problem 10 - pulled pastures.
- Grass tufts have been pulled up by grazing cattle and even the roots are lying on the pasture surface.
- Check for pasture pests such as grass grub, Porina and black beetle larvae that feed on grass roots and cut them, weakening the plants’ anchorage.
- If you find more than 3 grubs per spade spit, then you have an insect problem that may need appropriate chemical treatment or complete cultivation.
- Check the soil at root depth. There may be a compressed area or pan preventing the roots from penetrating, and this may render them more easily pulled up by grazing cattle.
- This compressed soil pan often occurs in pastures after heavy pugging during winter.
- A complete pasture renovation programme may be needed to break up the pan and sow new species and cultivars.
- Avoid pugging pastures in winter.