The Deferred Grazing Handbook contains the key messages from the Ministry for Primary Industries SFF project “Pasture Management in a Volatile World.”
Initiated by farmers, the project ran between 2017 and 2020 and found that deferred grazing benefited pasture quality over the whole farm, provided a feed wedge at the end of summer and improved pasture persistence.
Deferred grazing is the practice of resting pastures from grazing from mid-spring until late summer/early autumn.
Farmax modelling, carried out on one farm, looking the impact of deferred grazing on livestock performance and farm profitability, showed an 8% increase in total farm and per hectare gross margins when 15% of the farm was deferred.
Hill country farmers in the Taranaki, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions had been using the practice for some years and while they had noted improvements in soils, pastures and livestock performance, they sought SFF funding to help quantify these benefits.
AgResearch led this SFF project with primary funding partners Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Plant and Food Research and a number of other funding partners. This project looked at the effects of deferred grazing on pasture performance, soils, tiller densities, herbage production, nutritive value, ground cover and Facial Eczema spore counts.
This was done at split paddock scale on three farms and plot scale on two farms.
The study and the results are summarised in a handbook along with farmer feedback, an 8-step instruction on how to implement deferred grazing on-farm and deferred grazing FAQs.
The Deferred Grazing Handbook is available on the AgResearch website.