There is one important rule when it comes to managing grass in early spring and that is to graze as much as you can when conditions allow.
As cows are only really starting to calve on most farms, most farmers don’t have much ability to make huge inroads into achieving target area grazed.
However, it’s a shame not to make the most of the good grazing conditions when they present themselves because as most farmers know, the weather will change and conditions won’t be as good as they are now.
Things to remember
A couple of things to remember about early spring grazing: number one, cows’ appetite is small soon after calving and they eat very little grass.
Overall intake is usually about 11kg or 12kg per day in the first week or so after calving.
If 3kg or 4kg of meal is being fed, it means that the total grass intake may be as low as 7kg or 8kg per day.
That’s about half as much grass as cows would eat during the summer months.
The other thing to remember is that the dry matter of grass is much higher now than it is during the summer so there is more feed value in every fistful.
Therefore, allocation per cow needs to be small otherwise utilisation will be poor and grass will be walked into the ground.
In terms of allocating grass, it’s a good idea to graze in square blocks rather than long and narrow strips, as cows do less walking in a square block.
When starting off grazing, don’t go straight to the paddock with the highest cover. Instead start off grazing in a paddock with a cover of around 1,000kg/ha as utilisation will be better on lighter covers.