The objective of this study was to assess the effect of diverse pasture mixtures and grazing management on profitability of Canterbury dairy farms using a commercial modelling tool, Farmax Dairy Pro. Two years of pasture growth and quality data were obtained from irrigated plots sown with a pasture mixture consisting of perennial ryegrass, white clover, red clover, chicory and plantain (diverse) or the same pasture mixture plus Italian ryegrass (diverse-Italian). Pastures were subjected to one of three grazing management regimes: (1) conventional grazing (grazed to a compressed height of 3.5 cm all year); (2) spring lenient grazing; and (3) autumn lenient grazing. The data were fitted to a base model farm (average of North Canterbury region) using Farmax Dairy Pro to produce six different farm scenarios. Farm scenarios were ranked and compared by profit expressed as earnings before tax. Pastures managed by autumn lenient grazing resulted in the lowest DM production, more supplement purchased, and hence, lowest profit compared with conventional or spring lenient grazing management. The diverse pasture managed by spring lenient grazing resulted in the greatest profit ($2,658/ha) compared with other scenarios (average $2,261/ha). This greater profit was driven by greater annual DM production per hectare and, hence, less supplement purchased. When diverse pasture is considered, spring lenient grazing is a potential management option for irrigated Canterbury dairy farm systems to increase DM production and thereby profitability.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 78, Rotorua, 1-5, 2018
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