Pasture Management

Depending on where you are farming the spring was very different, which has affected how well newly sown pastures have established. That said, any new perennial pastures which were sown in 2018 are now best spelled once the perennial grass component is down to a height of 3-5cm, retaining some length should help these grasses persist. Once the autumn break arrives, allow these pastures to achieve 2-3 new leaves before grazing and take them into winter with at least 1200-1400kg of cover.

For perennial ryegrass pastures and cocksfoot pastures in particular, monitor cricket populations and control prior to them doing damage to the crowns of these plants.  Being proactive on the cricket front will help ensure a dense second year pasture versus a fairly thin one. Ensuring good strong tiller development in the second year of a pastures life as this is critical to long term success.

Protecting the Investment of a New Pasture

To safeguard a strong legume component in new pastures it will be beneficial to monitor for Red Legged Earthmites post the autumn break ensuring they don’t affect seedling germination. When introducing a new sub clover we often sow 10kg of seed/ha but over a couple of years we need reserves in the ground to build to 300-600kg/ha of seed over time.  Ensuring the second year pasture has every opportunity to get as many sub-cover plants to survive is critical.

If you are unsure about how to manage your significant investment in new pastures please give one of our agronomic consultants a call.

Water Conservation

In many areas water supply is a critical issue. As we’re waiting for the autumn break, WaterGuard ™ by Aquatain is a cost effective solution to reducing evaporation loss from dams. WaterGuard ™ provides a thin silicone layer across the top of the dam’s surface to reduce evaporation rate and is safe for stock and marine life. This product can be found at most rural stores and costs approximately $420/ 20L – which may look like a hefty price tag. However, only 50-70 mL/ 100m2 of water surface is required for the initial treatment and 10 mL/ 100m2 top up is required every fortnight during the hot season.

Figure 1 – Evaporation over time


Management of Growing Stock

The most vulnerable classes of livestock are young and growing sheep and cattle. Pastures as a whole (apart from the odd Lucerne paddock) are now below 60% digestibility. This, along with highly variable protein content (according to recently conducted Feedtests), result in cases where these animal classes will need some level of supplementary feeding. Depending on the weight gain required, they will need significantly different supplementation.  Weaner lambs under 25kg live weight  are at most risk, having a huge requirement for protein (12- 14%) and energy (10MJ/kg) as they are young growing animals. Our livestock consultants can assist with making supplement choices working through Grazfeed.

Pink Eye

In some regions, this summer has seen huge out breaks of pinkeye, in both lambs and young weaner cattle. Having these stock in paddocks with good ground cover to reduce dust exposure as well as watering down yards prior to handling stock in the yards will help.

Pilligard ™ by Coopers for cattle has provided some help, as has treating these animals with a fly repellent, helping to reduce the spread of bacterial infection. In some areas the spread of pink eye has been very swift even when treated and after investigation by Coopers Animal Health, it has been discovered these are new strains unfortunately not covered by the vaccine. Early intervention by controlling the first few cases will also help reduce the spread.


Article by Andrew Speirs