Forage for Knowledge

Make the most of your farm's potential with the latest regional grass growth and quality data and analysis, updates and resources.

Stay updated with the latest advice to make informed decisions, whether it's about adding an extra paddock for silage and assessing its impact on demand or ensuring that the growth rate aligns with your requirements.

Utilise the grass growth wedge to gauge potential surpluses or deficits and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Access the Forage For Knowledge database and resources to effectively manage risks and enhance your decision-making process.

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Grass growth commentary and advice

Pasture to Profit consultant Piers Badnell will provide comments (usually, every two weeks) throughout the main grass growing season. Read the latest below.

10 April 2024

The long-range forecast looks more settled in the second half of April, offering potential opportunities.

However, confidence in this forecast is not particularly high, so we must remain vigilant and seize opportunities as they arise.

Grazing opportunities are subject to change from day to day but continue to push the boundaries of what is possible each day.

Additionally, as some paddocks enter their second round of grazing, it's advisable to strategise, avoiding overgrazing areas that were heavily poached or damaged in the first round.

Consistent damage over successive rounds can have lasting effects. It's crucial to monitor conditions closely, as even a brief delay due to dry weather can prevent further damage.

For paddocks with insufficient residual growth after the first round, consider re-entering at a higher entry cover in the second round, around 2,500/2,600 kg DM/ha.

With the approach of Balance/Magic Day, it's important to manage average cover, especially where it exceeds 2,200 kg DM/ha. Beyond this point, the impact of cow grazing reduces in restoring average cover.

High average covers (2,400+ kg DM/ha) require attention to bring them back into control. A suggested approach involves grazing to maintain covers below 3,000 kg DM/ha while cutting excess.

This should be done gradually to avoid extremes in the pasture wedge, aiming for a balanced distribution to prevent boom-and-bust scenarios.

However, if a significant portion of the platform is cut either in stages or all at once, there will be a notable surge in demand on the remaining or yet-to-be-cut areas.

Nonetheless, considering the onset of rapid growth, this heightened demand can be offset by anticipated increases in growth.

Using tools like Forage for Knowledge for growth projections and evaluating your demand enables the calculation of the impact on your average cover

Weather conditions can be unpredictable, but optimal grass management involves cutting grass as soon as the dew evaporates, spreading it fully, and potentially turning it in the late morning or early afternoon, particularly on sunny and windy days.

This minimises dew accumulation overnight and reduces the risk of rain affecting the swath. Spreading and tedding are crucial for removing moisture effectively.

Addressing poor residuals is crucial when appropriate. Aim to graze at 2,600 kg DM/ha and achieve a clean finish or consider pre-mowing and ensiling to remove all rejection.

Avoiding this step may lead to quality loss during late May and early June, particularly during seed heading. Poor residuals combined with rejection sites can significantly impact milk quality and subsequent milk solids production.

Below is an example of how poor residuals can impact mid-season quality, affecting both DM intake and kilograms of milk solids produced.

The difference in energy content, with examples of 10 and 11 MJ ME/kg DM from poor residuals and rejection, underscores the significant effect on dairy production. While 10 MJ ME represents an extreme case, even the 11 MJ ME scenario carries substantial consequences.

Table 1. The influence of pasture quality on maximum intake and MS production (500 kg Friesian with no change in liveweight

Pasture quality
Effect on intake and milk solids
MJ ME/kg DM kg DM/day MS (kg/day)


(equiv to 80% digestibility of DM)

18 2.3


(equiv to 70% digestibility of DM)

7–17.3 1.9


(equiv to 66% digestibility of DM)

16–16.6 1.5–1.6

High quality pasture is the result of good grazing management - offering the right pre-grazing cover to achieve a 'consistent, even grazing height'

  • Grazing management does not affect the quality of the emergung leaf; new young leaf is always high quality
  • Grazing managent does affect the quality of the feed offered as it is a mix of new growth and what was not eaten at the previous grazing. Grazing intensity and rotation length affect pasture quality as they affect the age of the leaf

Source: DairyNZ

Decisions and actions taken in the coming weeks will significantly influence the remainder of the season. It's time to carefully consider and formulate a flexible plan accordingly.


This data set also includes grass growth and quality data from the AHDB-sponsored beef and sheep GrassCheck GB contributors in England.

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