Autumn is not only calving time, it’s the farm’s busiest time, annually sowing Italian ryegrass which is the main component of their dairy feed ration for the year. Only 20 years ago, Gary’s system relied on 100% perennial ryegrass for feed and this required irrigation all summer. Now the pastures are high performing Italian ryegrasses which produce as much feed (or more) and only get irrigated for 4 months of the year.
Dairy farming in northern Victoria today is all about maximising yield and quality feed and using water efficiently. Fodder conservation has become the key to providing a balanced ration all year round. The Heap’s make pit silage using Italian ryegrass pastures and corn to give them adequate feed reserves for the season. The seeder, mower and feed-out wagon have become an integral part of the daily chores for Jai.
“Over summer we now have 40ha of Greenfeast corn planted hoping to produce 800 tons of corn pit silage for feed rations throughout the year. We graze about 30 ha of sorghum over the summer months which was traditionally all perennial ryegrass grazing. With temporary water prices around the $500/ML we have decided to start sowing our annual pastures two weeks later this year hoping to save about 200 ML of water or $100,000.”
We have been sowing over 300 ha of Italian ryegrasses now for over 5 years which give us feed right through until December and that’s important to get the quality grass fed component of their diet which holds milk production at a higher level.