Break of season considerations

For most of the Southwest, the break of the season (particularly on the west coast) was the 2nd of May.

Pastures which germinated at that time have enjoyed some warm weather with good growth rates and are well and truly at the 3-leaf stage. With recent rain, these pastures are now well established with good density and a grazing rotation can commence in most instances. Later-sown paddocks are still some weeks away, these can be allocated toward the back end of a rotation. Even if some paddocks are late into the rotation, seedling tillers can support more than 3 live leaves and if the first leaf is lost it is only a tiny amount in comparison to the potential growth of the fourth leaf (see photo).

Ryegrass plant in the 4-leaf stage on 7th June. Note the first leaf is still in good condition


While we can make a start for this year's grazing season, it is important not to overestimate the amount of feed available; dry matter is very low (10-13%) and plants are low in fibre which makes them still quite soft and vulnerable. It is wise to maintain a high level of supplementary feed and have only short on/off grazing events when grazing starts to avoid over-grazing below the ideal 4-6cm residual. This also makes the transition to grass in the diet more favourable to maintaining rumen function. Once underway, observation of post-grazing residuals and milk production is critical to adjust rations accordingly. 

The warm start to the growing season has resulted in some reports of redlegged earth mite and lucerne flea damage to young pastures. Remember to check pastures often and include a relevant pesticide in spraying programs early to control infestations as soon as possible. 

As we approach the colder months, the ideal rotation speed is likely to stretch well beyond 35 days. This and the low fibre content of the grass will mean roughage will be an important part of the diet for quite some time. 

All the principles of good grazing management are covered in the Feeding Pastures for Profit course, please contact Indi Brockman if you are interested in attending (location/timing dependant on interest).

You're viewing the Western Dairy website. To view other regional dairy information, select a region.
Cookies help Dairy Australia improve your website experience. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.