As stock transition onto winter forage crops, Beef + Lamb New Zealand is recommending farmers make a plan to minimise environmental risks and maintain animal welfare standards.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s North Island General Manager, Corina Jordan, says completing a plan will help farmers identify any risks early so they can take action to manage them.
“The Forage Cropping module in B+LNZ’s Farm Plan (also available as a stand-alone resource) is a valuable tool to help farmers work through their crop management plans and ensure they get the best result for their stock, the environment and their bottom line.”
Corina says while the outcome of the Government’s review of the winter forage crop grazing regulations has yet to be announced, farmers are still being encouraged to continue to follow best practice management irrespective of the outcomes.
Leaving Critical Source Areas ungrazed, keeping breaks long and narrow, feeding the paddock from the top of slope and ensuring there is a minimum five-metre buffer between forage crops and waterways will significantly help to reduce soil and nutrient run-off and waterway contamination.
Catch-crops such as oats, sown as soon as possible after winter forage crops have been grazed, are also a useful tool to transform any nutrients left in the wake of winter grazing into valuable drymatter.
Corina says winter forage crops continue to be in the spotlight from both an environmental and animal welfare point of view.
“Farmers need to ensure they are going into winter with a plan B in case of extended periods of bad weather.”
Stock needs to have access to shelter, loafing areas where they can lie down comfortably and access to feed and clean water.
Anecdotal evidence from Regional Councils suggests farmers have made significant improvements to their wintering practices in recent years, but it is important to keep the momentum going, says Corina.
“I encourage farmers to make use of the resources available to make a plan and ensure they are making the best use of their forage crops to drive livestock performance while protecting their environment. “
Download B+LNZ’s Forage Cropping Plan (PDF, 1.03MB)