SPRING AT the Dookie dairy has been quite favourable. In mid-November the spring calving was well and truly complete and the artificial insemination program was under way.
Pasture intake per cow was maintained at 11–13 kg dry matter/day through spring, and 50 tonnes dry matter of pasture silage was made on the milking area. About 8 ha of summer crops are about to be sown. Most of this will be forage sorghum and some will be millet.
These crops will be used as part of the pasture renovation program but will also provide valuable summer feed. At this time of year, getting the grazing rotation lengths right to maintain a balance between pasture quantity and quality is important.
A research experiment on the farm is investigating the differences in pasture mass and quantity between grazing rotation lengths of 10–20 days in the period of mid-October to mid-December.
Measurements of pasture mass, species composition, leaf:stem ratio of rye-grass, protein and energy contents are being made. The results of this research will inform grazing rotation practices in the transition period between spring and summer.
Three students from France who are currently on placement at Dookie are doing the bulk of the work.