Seven Geographe farm businesses are increasing their knowledge and application of grazing best practice by participating in the Grazer Matcher program.
Grazing Matcher aims to improve productivity and profits for farmers and minimise impacts to the environment by supporting farmers to adopt best practice grazing management across their sheep and beef farms. This includes implementing a rotational grazing plan, leaving the right amount of pasture residue after grazing and supplementing feed where required.
The program advocates moving stock between a series of paddocks (rotational grazing) in response to pasture growth, allowing a rest period before the first paddock is grazed again. This grazing practice promotes better pasture production throughout the season and has benefits for weed and pest control, as well as nutrient distribution from the animals.
The program advocates moving stock between a series of paddocks (rotational grazing) and applying an understanding of how pasture responds to grazing and weather conditions to maximize production. This is achieved by allowing a resting period before each paddock is grazed again and leaving a 4-6cm pasture stubble. Correct deferment at the start of the season in association with the planned rotation helps to boost pasture production and achieve its potential. Other advantages are improved weed and worm control, better nutrient distribution from the animals and more effective response per unit of fertiliser applied.
The program also covers forage conservation practices, livestock nutrient requirements and interpreting feed test results to inform decision making around supplementary feeding.
Marybrook farmers Dave Carter and Felicity Bradshaw hosted the first meeting on their farm and are looking forward to putting some of the Grazing Matcher principles into action.
“The principle of planning when to move stock between paddocks based on grass leaf stage and climate is a real nugget of wisdom that’s taken a long time for us to realise,” Dave said “So, I’m looking forward to making some changes.”
The group has met twice this year to brush up on their farm business fundamentals, as well as getting some hands-on learning about grazing management.
During the first meeting in April, participants learnt about relationships between pasture growth and animal requirements, as well as some farm business best practices.
The May meeting involved hands-on learning at host Rob McFerran’s property in Treeton.
Participants identified the ideal leaf stage to graze and calculated how to implement a basic rotational grazing plan, so stock are moved at the right time and don’t overgraze, allowing the grass to recover well.
“We really drilled down on the numbers and analysed stocking rates and pasture production targets, so we know when to move stock, and when to adjust the plan with some supplementary feed,” said Rob.
“The course has helped me remove some guess work from my grazing rotation plan.”
The course is being presented by Jeisane Accioly, ALIS Consulting, and Dan Parnell, from Agsure Consulting.
‘’The group will meet eight times over twelve months and participants will go through a paradigm shift in their thinking,” said Jeisane Accioly.
“It’s about making small changes incrementally and sticking with the plan.”
The exciting new program is funded through Revitalising Geographe Waterways, with support from Profitable Grazing Systems, a Meat and Livestock Australia initiative, Western Beef and South West Catchments Council.
For more information contact GeoCatch on 9781 0111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
VIDEO: Marybrook farmer Dave Carter shares how he will be applying the principles of the program on his own farm.