PR - UNDERSTANDING GRAZING DECISIONS ON TASMANIAN DAIRY FARMS
Improving pasture utilisation on Tasmanian dairy farms is a key focus of research, development and extension programs, through increasing farmer awareness, knowledge and use of best practice pasture management practices. Recommended practices include using pasture management tools to provide objective information about pasture quantity, increasing control, flexibility and accuracy around pasture management decisions. A survey of 162 Tasmanian dairy farmers found large variation in tool use, and investigated the relationship between current tool use and key grazing management decisions. Key decisions include assessing pasture quantity (pre-grazing cover), grazing intensity (post-grazing residual), determining rotation length, and determining the level of non-pasture, supplementary feed required. There was a significant relationship between currently measuring pasture and using that information to assess pre and post-grazing cover, and decisions on rotation length (P<0.05). The relationship between currently measuring pasture and using that information to make decisions on supplement feeding was not significant. Using pasture measurement data can assist in increased accuracy in supplement allocation, with inaccurate allocation resulting in potential over-feeding, substitution of supplement for pasture, reduced pasture regrowth, quality and utilisation. Extension can increase farmer knowledge and understanding of how pasture measurement data can be used to make more informed grazing decisions, and subsequent increase pasture utilization, milk production and farm profitability.
Keywords: Extension, grazing management decisions, pasture management, supplement feeding.