The ability to implement a grazing management strategy is essential to the success of any livestock operation. Flexible grazing management, such as changing up your approach based on the season you’re facing and being able to make informed decisions using the data at hand, improve your ability to turn product into profit. The following blog will explain why tracking your grazing capabilities is integral to ensuring you meet your seasonal and growth targets.
According to leading industry expert Hilary Bunny, from Aggregate Consulting in Wagga Wagga, grazing management is the number one key profit driver that you should be prioritising as a grazier. Implementing a grazing management plan has a number of benefits across the operation including:
- Maximising Pasture Utilisation
- Increased Efficiency of Feed Conversion
- Increasing Stocking Rates
- Minimising Growth of Unwanted Plant Species
- Improves Sustainability of Pastures By Decreasing Chance of Erosion and Degradation of Soil Nutrients
- Increased Calving Rates
- Increased Weight Gain Across Your Herd
- Better Understanding of Stocking Loads Based On The Season
Hilary notes that one of the main questions that you should be thinking about is ‘how much of the available pasture should I let my livestock consume, and how much do I need to leave to ensure that the pasture will remain healthy, vigorous and productive for years to come.’
The value of good grazing management is becoming increasingly topical, with more than 60% of respondents in our 2022 State of the Farmer Report claiming that they were planning on prioritising improving their grazing strategy in 2022 to ensure the sustainability of their operation, and more than 70% claiming effective grazing management has increased the profitability of their land and livestock. The key to ensuring the long term viability of your pastures is to operate so that your livestock consume and utilise around 50% of what you grow. Setting up a pasture budget is one way to ensure this. This allows you to understand when your deficits and surpluses are going to be, especially around winter where we see a historically familiar pattern, although rainfall differences may occur year to year. Rotational grazing can increase pasture growth up to 20% (depending on the region) and is therefore an excellent grazing technique to implement to ensure you have adequate pasture growth in preparation for winter.
Understanding Stocking Rates
Understanding your carrying capacity as well as the months that you will have feed surplus allows you to ensure that your consumption curve is peaking at the same time as your pasture growth and availability. One way of achieving this is by measuring your feed on offer (FOO). When you are measuring your FOO you can calculate your on-farm production to understand if there are opportunities for increasing stocking or when supplementary feeding will be required to ensure adequate pasture budgeting leading up to dryer months. Products like Cibo Labs offer an easy solution for measuring FOO without the guesswork of measuring by eyesight. Cibo Labs offer remote sensing of pasture biomass, ground cover and land condition monitoring. Cibo Labs allows you to spend time focussing on reliable insights rather than spending time deciphering the value of your pastures based on gut-feel.
There are several tools within Agriwebb that assist with capturing the information required to implement grazing management practices on your operation such as the Pasture records, Map Insights (FOO, stocking rate, days empty) and reports (Paddock Grazing Intensity and DSE Load by Paddock)
Once you have access to insights such are these you will be able to regularly ask yourself the following questions:
-What is the production capability of this paddock?
-How effectively will this paddock bounce back after grazing?
-Which of my paddocks should I bring into pasture improvement programs to increase ground cover?
By understanding the importance of grazing management practices you will be able to seize opportunities to increase productivity and profitability, and manage and mitigate risk. You will be able to identify when you are able to increase your stocking rate and when supplementary feeding is required. Above all, and most importantly, you will be able to ensure the environmental sustainability of your operation by increasing ground cover and reducing erosion.
If you’d like to find out how to practically enter this data into AgriWebb and use the insights to improve your grazing management, you can sign up for the AgriWebb Academy Grazing Management & Insights course here.
***One of AgriWebb’s many integration partners is Cibo Labs. This integration is not yet rolled out to the entire AgriWebb customer base, however we are currently doing the work to roll out to everyone in the coming months. If you are thinking you would like to get up and running on Cibo in the interim or stay up to date please sign up for the waitlist here.