The importance of planning to ensure animal welfare and environmental needs are being met over the winter months is the focus of Smart Wintering webinars.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand in conjunction with DairyNZ, is running the Smart Wintering webinars to remind farmers of the importance of having good wintering systems in place, particularly when using forage crops.
Over 300 farmers attended the first of these free, one-hour webinars which focused on the Southland region. Another, focusing on North Otago and Canterbury is being held on Friday, 24 April at 11am. Four presenters will cover a range of issues including grazing management, environmental protection, animal welfare and regulatory requirements.
B+LNZ’s Southern South Island Extension Manager Olivia Ross says farmers need to be proactive to ensure they are following Good Management Practices with animal welfare and the environment central to all their management decisions.
She says farmers should be doing a feed budget through until spring to ensure feed supply is going to match demand and putting together a risk plan should adverse weather occur or farmers end up carrying more stock than they had expected. The latter being a real possibility due to reduced processing capacity in the wake of COVD-19 restrictions.
For graziers, this means talking to dairy farmers to clarify expectations around feed availability.
Two of the main risks associated with winter grazing are a change of diet and mud and Olivia says farmers should be thinking about how they can minimise these risks on their farm. Options might include using back fences which are shifted every two to three days, bale rings and portable water troughs so stock are not having to walk to access water.
“All of these can make a significant difference.”
While every regional council will have their own set of regulations around winter feed crops the principals remain the same around the protection of soil and water resources. This means identifying and protecting Critical Source Areas or areas in the paddock over which water may flow in the winter and putting a five-metre minimum buffer around waterways.
As the slope of a paddock increases so too should the size of the buffer.
Helen Thoday, DairyNZ’s Animal Care Team Manager encourages farmers to think about what they would do in adverse weather events. Thinking about previous events can help plan for future storms.
“This week sit down with your family or team and think about the last adverse weather event and what lessons you learnt.”
Stock should have access to a comfortable lying surface over winter, for cattle they need around 9m/head, and there should be enough room for all stock to lie down comfortably at the same time.
Paddock grazing plans are a valuable tool as they can highlight the risks and management requirements of individual paddocks and allow for planning of adverse weather events.
Factors to consider when drawing up a plan include Critical Source Areas, waterways, grazing direction, shelter, bale placement, portable water troughs, back fencing and access.
Olivia says a contingency plan for sheep and cattle in bad weather could include providing 10% extra feed by enlarging the break or in the case of sheep, using a grass run-off and feed grain or nuts.
She says farmers need to think about what success looks like for them when it comes to winter grazing management.
“Set clear expectations, steal ideas of your farming colleagues and make a plan.”
Find out more
- For more information about Good Management Practice go to: https://beeflambnz.com/wintergrazing