Early contingency plans create options for possible delayed turnout

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Grazing dairy cow

According to KW nutritionist Charlotte Ward, the combination of extended autumn grazing and minimal regrowth since housing could potentially delay turnout by up to 2-3 weeks this spring.

“That’s at least an extra 56t of ration dry matter for a typical 200-cow herd, and even using the very best value feed options currently available would add nearly £9,000 to spring feed costs,” she highlights.

“So check forage and feed stocks now and have a contingency plan in place. You’ll then have options when it comes to managing spring grazing, and be able to keep cows in or graze for just 2-3 hours a day if that’s what’s needed to build grass covers.”

Most farms have plenty of grass silage, though there have been occasional reports of some being short of maize silage. A realistic estimate of when new crop grass silage will be available is also needed, based on current grass covers and the six weeks post-clamping needed for silages to stabilise.

“If additional feeds are required, using forward contracts could be the best way to secure supplies – availability of mid-proteins like British wheat distillers’ feed remains tight, for example.

“And don’t overlook the value of moist ration extenders like Traffordgold wheat-gluten moist feed, with Wessex Gold moist blend or apple pomace also worth considering in the south.”

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