It might seem a bit early to be talking about summer feed shortages. But in some parts of the North Island, the pieces are already in place for a potentially big feed deficit.
While we don’t know what summer will bring, it is prudent to prepare, which raises an important question: do you have enough summer crop organised to carry you over?
Weeks of rain have prevented many farmers from making their normal volume of grass silage in September and October.
Once paddocks do dry out, any pasture surplus that does occur is most likely to go straight down the animals’ throats, especially since calving and lambing have finished and feed demand is at a peak.
On top of this, we have widespread pasture damage, which was impossible to avoid during winter and early spring.
The result is reduced grass growth and more weeds, meaning lower DM/ha pasture yields for the coming season, and poorer feed quality.
(The current wait time for PKE reflects this as farmers order more supplement to make up for the lack of grass.)
One solution is to look at an extra paddock(s) of summer crop, which will help resolve this situation in two ways. First, it provides high quality summer feed later in the season, when there is not enough grass silage or pasture on hand.
Second, it allows you to repair paddocks which have taken a beating in the wet, by following up in autumn with new ryegrass and clover.
Homegrown feed is cheaper than anything that comes on a truck, and there are several good summer crop options available, including 501 Chicory and Dynamo turnips.
For more information, including our summer crop calculator, click here.