Problem 5 - rampant weeds
The farm is constantly covered in tall grass, and weeds, especially docks and thistles, are always rampant. From a distance it looks like an over-mature hay paddock. The pastures are never “cleaned out”, and never produce good quality green feed. Your neighbours hardly dare tell you that the farm looks awful!
- You are grossly understocked - you have too few animals.
- Graze some more animals, such as dry cows or big steers - buy, beg or borrow them.
- Buy electric fence gear and contain the stock tightly.
- Force mature stock to clean out their allocated pasture - don’t be a softy and move the fence when they complain.
- Unless you do this, you’ll never grow good quality pasture.
- Retire an area from grazing and make silage or hay.
Problem 6 - poor pastures
Your pastures are as bare as a pool table in most seasons, and especially in winter. Spring or autumn flushes never occur, and your livestock are permanently skeletal. Even the roadsides near the property are as bare as the road! The paddocks are covered in dry dung pats. There’s not a weed in sight, except some very mature docks. The neighbours dare not tell you how dreadful your farm and livestock look, and some are considering informing the SPCA!
- You are grossly overstocked - you have far too many animals for the property.
- Sell off some stock.
- Buy in some supplement, either hay or silage.
- The property probably needs fertiliser - seek expert advice.
- Learn how to manage pastures.
Problem 7 - no clover
The clover has disappeared from the pasture.
- This is a major problem - clover is highly nutritious stock feed.
- Supply of free nitrogen, fixed by the clover root nodules converting atmospheric nitrogen into soil nitrate, stops. This powers all the pasture plants, so growth grinds to a halt.
- Check for insect pests. The clover flea scrapes the underside of the leaf, and the clover root weevil scallops the leaf edges and its small white larvae eat the roots and nodules. Slugs eat clover at night, chewing matching holes from the closed leaflets - like origami.
- You may have been applying too much nitrogen fertiliser - above 200kg N/ha/year.
- Grass plants were allowed to grow too long in spring and winter, shading out the clover plants.
- Too many hay crops have been off the paddock.
- Renovating the pasture will re-introduce some new clovers into the sward.
- Check soil fertility and review fertiliser policy at the same time.
- Change grazing management to encourage clover - avoid letting grass get too long before grazing the pasture.