Damage to soils and pastures in early Spring is a significant factor reducing pasture growth, feed utilisation and animal production on NZ dairy farms. Farmers have sought and may have found a management solution to this problem. It involves the early removal of dairy cows from pasture, after a period of grazing that is sufficient to meet the dry-matter intake needs of the cows. For example the colostrum herd might graze on pasture only at night, and spend the period between morning and afternoon milkings on the cowshed yard. The main herd will be on pasture during the daytime, but may be taken off pasture at 9.00 after 3 to 4 hours grazing, and stood on the cowshed yard until morning milking. This limits the extent of treading and reduced damage to soils and pasture, allowing the farm to sustain higher pasture growth rates, maintain a higher average pasture cover and achieve a longer first rotation. Dairy farmers have found they can stand lactating dairy cows without special facilities and without the need for supplementary feed provided certain conditions are met. The best place to stand cows from farmers experience is on the cowsheds concrete yard. Cows are used to standing there and the concrete is cleaned daily of stones, so risk of stone bruising to hooves is minimal. While space on the yard is limited, few cows lie down on the concrete. The close contact means they keep each other warm, and they may be less exposed to weather than in the paddock. There appears to be no detrimental effect on daily per cow production from this treatment and production data will present to illustrate this.

PR, Inwood, ST Morris, WJ Parker, and SN McCutcheon

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 52, , 307-310, 1992
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