- As days lengthen and temperatures begin to increase, pasture growth will improve. Monitor pastures and implement a rotation that will maintain pasture quality coming into spring.
- If your farm is susceptible to severe water logging, you may choose to use a rotation length closer to grazing at the two leaf stage rather than three, in case you cannot graze the pasture when you would like. By allowing plants to grow more than three leaves or past canopy closure you will lose pasture quality, preventing tillering.
- FPFP participants - make sure your rotation right tool reflects your farm position. Farms will be coming into a position where they are growing more than the cows can eat. It is important to maintain pasture quality, use rotation length, supplements and banking to control this.
- Red legged earth mite: monitor your pastures closely and control these pests sooner rather than later.
- Spring is the best time to use nitrogen to boost plant growth. It will provide economical growth responses in established crops and pastures with good density. Other growth factors such as phosphorus, potassium and sulphur nutrient levels, soil temperature and moisture need to be adequate for the nitrogen to have its best result. With this in mind some areas of the farm may be best suited to a fertiliser blend rather than straight urea.
- Prepare irrigation equipment and channels in case they need to be used in September. Allowing plants to be moisture stressed, even for a short period has dramatic consequences on subsequent pasture yields and water use efficiencies.
- With spring just around the corner some people will be starting to think about purchasing hay and silage. It is critical to consider firstly what you will need and then what you can afford to pay this season.
- Underfeeding cows in early lactation will have consequences throughout the entire season, such as lower conception rates, reduced rumen capacity and lower production potential; restricting cows now will restrict their ability to convert feed efficiently later in the year.
- Watch for signs of acidosis in fresh cows, particularly if you are feeding high levels of grain to compensate for limited pasture.
- FPFP participants - are you feeding your cows in the zone? When did you last test?
- Ensure calves for slaughter are not treated with antibiotics or fed milk containing antibiotic residues. If it does happen, observe withholding periods.
- Young calves should be housed in a clean, sheltered, well ventilated area. They should have access to pellets and a fibre source for rumen development and function.
- Monitor autumn born calves and keep their vaccinations and drenches up to date.
- How are the yearlings going? They are still a couple of months off joining. A timely drench and a diet that meets their requirements will help to keep them growing.
- Have you looked at your business performance lately? A clear picture of what happened on the farm last year may help you make decisions and plan your coming season. Private consultants and milk factory field staff are trained to work through this with you.
- With the opening milk price announcement made now is the time to create a financial and cash flow budget for the 2013-14 season. Keep in touch with your factory field officer to get an estimate of your cash flow position in the coming months.