Have you got time to plate meter?

If you are paddock grazing, but haven’t got time to plate meter, would you feed a TMR without a ration plan or a load cell? Measuring and recording grass growth accurately is essential because it ensures that supplements are used cost-effectively, decisions are based on facts (not assumptions) and you can prepare for a grass growth surge (or a deficit), and not be caught out by it.  

 Today’s electronic plate meters and computer programs make grass measuring easier than ever, but it is the change in mindset that is hard. “It comes back to understanding that plate metering is about nutrition management and feeding cows for the most production,” says Teaghan Tayler, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Senior Manager in Wales. “It’s not a job for another day. You wouldn’t put off working out your feed ration because that would affect production; grazed grass is exactly the same.” 

​Grazing without measuring can lead to mistakes that are a lot more difficult to handle than simply ordering another truck load of feed for a slight ration change. “If you mess up one or two paddocks, or the first grazing round, you are working hard for the rest of the season to correct that,” she points out.

​Teaghan suggests making grass measuring a weekly routine task (such as every Tuesday after lunch), and having the discipline to stick to it. Everyone on the farm should know that for two hours on that day you will be out measuring grass. “Plan it for a day when you have the full team on, so you can step away and complete it, rather than a day when someone is off (have a roster that allows three days a week with a full team). Most of all, it comes back to the mindset change of ‘I’m feeding my dairy cow’ and that should take priority because that’s what makes milk,” she explains.

If you would like some help with taking more control of your time to be more proactive and prioritise tasks such as the grass walk, speak to your local knowledge exchange manager about ordering one of our time management whiteboards.