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Get Off to a Good Grazing Season Start!

Nancy Glazier, Small Farms & Livestock
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

April 12, 2016
Get Off to a Good Grazing Season Start!

Rotational grazing is the optimum way to utilize pastures. Grazing animals are fenced into a specified sized paddock for a predetermined length of time. These numbers are based on calculations: animals eat and waste from 2-5% of their bodyweight per day in dry matter (depending on specie, stage of growth and production) and they need that many pounds of dry matter multiplied by the number of head. Shorter rotations utilize pastures more efficiently; dairy cows are generally moved to fresh paddocks twice a day and other livestock once a day to once a week. After 3 days on the same paddock regrowth will begin to be grazed by the livestock and can delay regrowth. I don't recommend continuous grazing unless there is much more pasture than the livestock can utilize. This method of grazing leads to poor quality pastures.
Ideal grazing height is 8-10". Can you wait that long to start grazing? No. Wait for the grass to get some growth and take a look at the number of leaves on the grass plants, more than 3 leaves. Some research indicates to count leaves not inches! Grazing when the grass is too small will remove the growing point which will slow regrowth. Flash graze if necessary; move the animals through quickly to prevent damage to growing points. If the soil is wet start grazing when there is a quantity of pasture that will help protect the soil from hoof action. If too much pasture gets ahead of you harvest excess as hay, clip the paddocks fairly closely or bring in another group of animals. This will encourage tillering of the grass plants. Last season's residue helps to protect the soil, too.
Where to start? This may depend on what ground is dryer or what pasture grasses have more growth. Some pastures may be better suited for mechanical harvest so keep that in mind when beginning the grazing season. A rule of thumb to start the season is you'll need to harvest half since the livestock can't keep up. Another option would be to graze additional livestock during rapid growth times.
Keeping residual plant (what's left after grazing) height taller encourages regrowth of the taller plants. Kentucky bluegrass, annual bluegrass, less-productive clovers (think white clover in your lawn), and weeds do well under short conditions. Leaving the residue taller will encourage the more productive, taller plants to flourish and stay productive. Take half, leave half is a good rule of thumb.
Rest period is just as important as residency period. Pastures need adequate time for regrowth to remain productive. Spring conditions that are cool and moist encourage fast regrowth, 10-14 days, hot and dry conditions may warrant 40-60 days.
A big problem is leaving grazing animals out too late in the fall. I have been told by a seasoned grazier that one day more in the fall will be three days less grazing in the spring. Grass plants need root and rhizome reserves (stored energy) to begin spring growth. There will be little leaf material to capture sunlight for photosynthesis so energy to begin growth is supplied by the stored carbohydrates. This can't be helped now, but keep this in mind in the fall.
A great way to learn about grazing is to attend a pasture walk. Those that host one learn more than those that attend, so I have been told! If you'd like to host just drop me an email!  



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calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Dairy Cattle Summer Research Update

July 18, 2019
7:00-9:00pm
Batavia, NY

After the day's work is done, come hear about two new research trials conducted by Julio Giordano's lab:
  • Strategies for improving dairy cattle reproductive performance and economics
  • Using automated sensors for improving dairy cattle health monitoring and management

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Weed Resistance Management Demonstration and Plot Tour

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 23, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo, NY

Come join us on July 23 in Seneca County at Quinten Good's farm for a demonstration and walking tour of 16 different pre- and post-emergence treatments in soybean and 12 different treatments and combinations in corn.
  • Tall waterhemp and marestail are two weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicide modes of action in the WNY and Finger Lakes regions.
  • Each year the number of acres with resistant weed populations expands.
  • For herbicides to be an effective tool in weed management, we have to know what chemistries & application timings are most effective against these resistant weeds.

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Pasture Walk with the Finger Lakes Graziers

July 29, 2019
12:45 - 4 pm
Waterloo, NY

Join the Finger Lakes Graziers on a pasture walk and learn about soil health. 
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Announcements

USDA Announces New Decision Tool for New Dairy Margin Coverage Program

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2019 ? Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today the availability of a new web-based tool - developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin - to help dairy producers evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized
DMC, a voluntary risk management program that offers financial protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. It replaces the program previously known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Sign up for this USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program opens on June 17.

"With sign-up for the
DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program," Secretary Perdue said. "Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry."

The University of Wisconsin launched the decision support tool in cooperation with FSA and funded through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. The tool was designed to help producers determine the level of coverage under a variety of conditions that will provide them with the strongest financial safety net. It allows farmers to simplify their coverage level selection by combining operation data and other key variables to calculate coverage needs based on price projections.

The decision tool assists producers with calculating total premiums costs and administrative fees associated with participation in
DMC. It also forecasts payments that will be made during the coverage year.

"
The new Dairy Margin Coverage program offers very appealing options for all dairy farmers to reduce their net income risk due to volatility in milk or feed prices," said Dr. Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Higher coverage levels, monthly payments, and more flexible production coverage options are especially helpful for the sizable majority of farms who can cover much of their milk production with the new five million pound maximum for Tier 1 premiums. This program deserves the careful consideration of all dairy farmers."

For more information, access the tool at fsa.usda.gov/dmc-tool. For
DMC sign up, eligibility and related program information, visit fsa.usda.gov or contact your local USDA Service Center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.


New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.

https://nwnyteam.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=761&crumb=dairy|1

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