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A delay in introducing new winter grazing rules presents a "huge opportunity" for farmers, DairyNZ GM Farm Performance Sharon Morrell says.
The Government recently deferred the introduction of the new rules, in favour of taking a more farmer-led approach on delivering good practice changes.
"They've delivered it back into our hands and we will now show them that these are good hands," Morrell told The Country Sport Breakfast's Brian Kelly.
While wintering was an option which provided certainty of feed supply, it required farmers to plan and prepare early, Morrell said.
Farmers needed to think about the condition of the cows they had, what mobs they would put them in, and how they set up the direction of grazing, Morrell said.
"By now they should already have their troughs and their bales placed out in line with how they intend to graze the paddock."
Another tip was for farmers was to think about the direction of the weather, so the crop could provide some protection during the winter months, Morrell said.
"[Farmers should consider] grazing toward the weather, so that stock will camp away from the crop face."
Farmers should also think about Critical Source Areas when setting up their paddocks, Morrell said.
Critical Source Areas (CSAs) are small, low-lying parts of farms such as gullies and swales where runoff accumulates in high concentration.
"Potentially by not protecting [A Critical Source Area] you could threaten a waterway that's nearby," Morrell said.
Farmers should graze that part of the paddock last, so it was protected for as long as possible, Morrell said.
Farmers could still fence off the Critical Source Areas and leave at least a 5m buffer of crop.
If farmers had any questions about Critical Source Areas, they could contact DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ or Federated Farmers, Morrell said.
Animal preparation was also important in wintering and farmers should make sure their mob wasn't too big. Morrell recommended around 100 to 120 animals if possible.
Cows needed to be in the correct mob as well, Morrell said.
"Make sure that you split them up according to their Body Condition Scores – so that you've got your lighter stock in one mob so you can look after them preferentially."
Weighing the crop yield now would also help set break sizes and how much crop would be allocated to the cows, and how to transition them, Morrell said.
Following these guidelines was important for better wintering, Morrell said.
"The animals health is protected if you transition them very deliberately."
Also in today's interview: Morrell talked about DairyNZ's Farmers' Forums coming up. Registration is free for levy paying farmers and their farm teams. Register at dairynz.co.nz