Profiting from pasture

29 May, 2018 12:00 PM
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A Feeding Pastures for Profit course has helped young South Australian dairyfarmer Haydn Pocock improve his skills.
The major change was holding off on the pasture and not grazing it too early.
A Feeding Pastures for Profit course has helped young South Australian dairyfarmer Haydn Pocock improve his skills.

Profiting from pasture Haydn Pocock only needs to look at his paddocks in spring to see the impact of Feeding Pastures for Profit (FPFP).

The dryland dairyfarmer from South Australia's Adelaide Hills said that since doing the Dairy Australia course recently, he had seen improvement in his pasture, cow performance and balance sheet.

"We reckon we can see the difference in the pasture already," he said. "We've fed two kilograms of grain per day less this season compared to the previous. Our components are better and production is up."

Hadyn returned to the dairy industry a few years ago to farm with father Kym on their Echunga property.

Hungry for the latest farming information, he enrolled in FPFP.

While he reckons his father has been practising most of the FPFP teachings for years, Haydn believes the simple science presented in the course made understanding the fundamentals of quality pasture production easier.

FPFP helps farmers increase the use of home-grown feed by growing more grass, promoting the profitable use of pasture and crops and the efficient use of supplements by using simple and practical tools.

Dairy Australia's Cath Lescun said FPFP gave farmers the concepts and tools to help with daily pasture allocation and the amount of supplement to feed to optimise profit.

"Feeding Pastures for Profit is a very successful program developed by DEDJTR (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources) Agriculture Victoria and Dairy Australia, and is highly regarded with more than 1500 farmers having completed it," she said.

"It gives farmers the skills and confidence they need to make decisions about their feed which is vital for profitable farming.

"The first part of the program is all about getting the rotation right using the 'Rotation Right' tool.

"The second part of the program is learning about effective supplement use and how feeding more supplements than is necessary reduces farm profit."

Hayden said it was a methodical way of going about it.

"There's a system you can follow with the Rotation Right tool," he said.

"We have it on paper, but I also have it on Excel on the computer, so occasionally I will go and tweak it and change the rotation lengths or take areas in or out of the rotations."

Since completing the course, Hadyn and Kym have been reassessing their grazing methods.

"The major change was holding off on the pasture and not grazing it too early," Hadyn said.

"That meaty part of the curve is when you graze as late in the third leaf stage as you can, but still before closure. Canopy closure was something that was spoken about a lot, especially the importance of getting sunlight down to the tillers.

"We're also thinking that we have potentially been working the farm a little bit hard and were running numbers a bit high for a while.

"So now we are focusing on pasture -- that's where we see us getting the biggest benefits from."

Improving pasture management through courses such as FPFP is a no-brainer for a farm business where having enough grass in the paddock or silage in the pit is vital to balancing the books.

"Purchased feed is our biggest expense, so the more homegrown feed we can produce, the better the bottom line for us," Hadyn said.

FPFP aims to provide participants with the underpinning knowledge, skills and practical tools to better manage their pastures and make two major profit driving decisions:

  • 1. How much homegrown feed do I allocate to the herd to directly graze today?
  • 2. What amount of supplement do I need to offer the herd to be feeding 'in the profit zone'?
  • The course consists of two classroom days, five seasonal farm sessions and one individual farm visit to support the implementation of the concepts.<\#9>D

    For more information go to or contact a Regional Development Program (see contact details inside the back cover of this edition of the magazine).

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