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Tips For Managing Cattle Pastures In Winter


The lack of rain and pasture growth during the dry summer-autumn period on the north coast has meant that many livestock producers have come into winter with some paddocks carrying less feed than usual.

Management of pasture in winter is a critical skill for maintaining livestock health and protecting soil from damage. North Coast Local Land Services pasture advisor, Julie Dart says,

“It’s time to go out and check the pastures to see what condition they are currently in and how much available feed remains.”

In August and September, the main limiting factor for pasture recovering is going to be the temperature and low soil moisture.

For coastal cattle producers who rely on tropical grass pastures, what’s on the ground in midwinter is unlikely to grow much more before mid-spring.

“Tropical grasses such as Setaria and Rhodes Grass, what is there now is unlikely to grow much more before mid-October meaning there may not be enough feed available to meet animal requirements, particularly for cows and calves,” said Julie.

“It is essential to recognise that pastures that are less than 3cm tall won’t provide enough feed for cattle to graze. As cattle spend more time walking in search of feed, further weight loss is likely,” said Julie.

To provide the best opportunity for rapid pasture regrowth when conditions improve about, 5-6cm should be left behind after grazing.  This is equivalent to 1.5 tonnes of dry matter per hectare, which can be hard to achieve in a tough season.

“By assessing your pastures and paddocks, you can plan your grazing rotations and decide if a paddock may require a long rest period or renovation to return it to a more desirable state this coming summer’ said Julie.

Pastures that become too run down in a tough season are also more vulnerable to weed invasion which can further reduce carrying capacity

North Coast Local Land Services have produced a Fact Sheet to help farmers assess how much feed is available and to better budget their remaining feed. This will assist landowners in making informed decisions on grazing management.

The fact sheet is available from the Resource Hub on the North Coast Local Land Services website, our facebook page or by contacting your nearest local land services office.


Media contact: Julie Dart, Senior Land Services Officer, North Coast Local Land Services. Phone 02 6659 9406