Winter represents an important time for South Island dairy herds. The task of improving body condition of cows during winter poses a number of challenges in this environment. Under current forage crop based wintering systems, many cows fail to achieve body condition score targets and there is increased potential for nutrient leaching and the loss of soil structure and health. In addressing the poor cow performance and to minimize the environmental impact of current systems, farmers are looking to alternative wintering systems. Consequently off-pasture systems to manage feed supply and provide shelter in winter are becoming more common to remove the need for grazing forage crops and limit effluent discharges into the environment. While many farmers have viewed such systems as a solution to their wintering issues, rapid implementation and lack of readily available information on best practice management has resulted in sustainability issues unique to these new systems. This paper examines the challenges of wintering in the southern South Island and outlines how the dairy industry is working to provide sustainable options for the future.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 71, Invercargill, 172-175, 2011
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