1 May 2020


Simon Pitt, Dairy Technical Officer 

Herds with excellent housing facilities often don't have the same level of grazing infrastructure in preparation for occasions where they need to extensively graze their cows during periods above and beyond the normal routine. Fields are often large and very suitable for silage making. They also might not have enough well-placed water troughs and access points to facilitate good grazing behaviour in their cows and subsequent yield from grazed grass.

Farmers who are considering turning cows out, who normally would limit grazing to certain loafing paddocks and fields near the yard, should consider key points relating to water access and grazing infrastructure to ensure cows performance and health is not compromised, whichever part of the farm is being grazed.

  • Keep paddocks as square as possible as livestock travel a lot on long and thin paddocks. Don’t break the 4 to 1 rule of the thumb, 4 being the length and 1 being the width.
  • Use a combination of wooden posts, temporary movable electric fence posts and poly wire to split large fields temporarily into smaller paddocks.
  • A blue 25mm pipe on the surface along the fence line can be used to carry water to troughs.
  • Water trough access is best located in the middle of the field so livestock don’t have to travel far to access. It also helps with spreading the nutrients from dunging.
  • A circular water feed for your grazing platform will help maintain pressure and flow rates.
  • Livestock can consume a lot of water on a warm day. Guidelines are 12% of bodyweight in litre/day for dry animals and 15% of bodyweight for lactating animals.
  • They consume more water during the day than at night, therefore, flow rates are important.
  • Single lane narrow spur tracks can be a useful way of accessing the furthest parts of a field to avoid back-grazing large fields.

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