Two weeks ago the local Liquorland billboard said “It’s a great winter we’re having this spring”. Thankfully now in the second week of October the grass is growing and spring is finally here.
NIWA climate maps (see below) confirm that temperatures for September were lower than average across most of NZ, varying by up to 2 degrees below the monthly mean. One dairy client in the Ashburton region reported the lowest soil temperature ever recorded for this time of the year! Rainfall has been highly variable over the past month ranging from 20% to 400% of the average for September. In some parts of NZ sunshine hours only reached 85% of the monthly average, and when combined with low temperatures and/or low rainfall - lead to slow pasture growth.
Rainfall has been highly variable across NZ with 20-40% of average rainfall experienced in much of the south island and 60%-400% of the average rainfall for September across the North Island. Much of NZ experienced above average sunshine hours. However, Coromandel, Auckland, the south of the North Island, and parts of mid-Canterbury and Waitaki experienced only 85-95% of the average sunshine hours for September. Temperatures across NZ were mostly below average for September, with Canterbury, Otago and the south east of the North Island suffering the most with temperatures -2 degrees below the average.
This spring has highlighted concerns around adequate feed supply and accurate mineral supplementation. Consider the following:
Ensure sufficient grass after calving to establish a decent lactation curve, particularly if you’re trying to respond to poor reproductive efficiency. If your calving date is too early and there isn’t adequate grass supply you’re forced to be reliant on supplement to fill the feed gap. Slow grass growth this spring has seen more supplement being fed with some negative effects on production and cow health. For example, the feed profile of maize silage means the production response will be limited if fed in large amounts.
Having more grass on hand after calving allows you to shift supplement use to mid-late lactation when the cow is in calf, is off peak production, has lower protein requirements and is more resilient to feed changes.If you’re calving, kidding or lambing and feeling under pressure with lack of grass supply then consider matching the start date better with higher grass growth rates.
Check you are using the correct amount of mineral supplementation to prevent animal health problems. The mineral recommendations made are unique to your farming situation and your animal’s needs. If your SCC is running higher than expected or you’re experiencing unexpected animal health issues, weigh the minerals and check you’re supplementing as prescribed.
While it’s impossible to change the weather, results from our client farms show a partnership with Mineral Systems puts you in control of animal health outcomes. By following Mineral System’s mineral supplementation and fertiliser recommendations you can reduce the impact of adverse weather on animal health and performance, helping to minimise your losses.