Here we're going to tackle another winter tip for holding stocking rates through the wettest time of the year. These tips are thought provoking as they provide thoughts around mitigating lost opportunity (read avoiding a boggy mess). If you haven't already, check out this first blog in the series:  Grazing tips for winter conditions: who left that gate open?

Be warned that this tip may be more beneficial for those that have free-draining cow roads on hills and may not work for your scenario. If you have a well set up feed pad, you don't need to keep reading any further. This blog post is for the winter grazers who don't have anywhere to feed out. The question is, where can the supplementary fodder go to reduce waste?

On the road, yes, you guessed it! If you have gravel roads that don't sit wet and dry quickly, you're cookin' with fire! The best location is under the fence. Yep, but make sure not too far that your animals push the feed out of reach, just far enough that they aren't likely to walk over it. The best locations are where fences follow a bank. Banks help reduce wastage, as your animals will utilise more than you could ever dream of for this wet time of year. How? Well, by not trampling on any or by pushing the feed out of reach.

Dairy cows grazing feed under a fence to reduce feed wastage.
Dairy cows grazing feed under a fence to reduce feed wastage.
Dairy cows grazing feed under a fence to reduce feed wastage.

So what have we gained so far? Well, we don't have a tractor in the paddock ploughing with its tyres and a feed wagon in chase; we don't have that nasty compaction from the very same tyres; we don't have a lot of feed wastage trodden into a wet boggy paddock; and lastly, our pasture has a fighting chance not to have its growth reduced, thus growing actively for the next grazing and into the spring flush.

An important part to note is that when employing this practice. We need to be sure that there isn't any chance of environmental contamination. If your farm sits wet and there is a chance of effluent or nutrients leaching or running off into groundwater or local waterways, then this approach isn't for you. You would need something more substantial with concrete and a place for effluent collection.

I'd love to hear your experiences of how you have adapted to wet winters while holding high stocking rates in the comments below.

Happy farming!

- Ollie Roberts, 10 Jul 2019