Rainfall, temperature, soil moisture, soil type, fertility and pasture type combine to drive pasture growth. You can’t change your annual rainfall without moving, but you can rethink your existing pasture types and management systems to suit your location and achieve your enterprise goals.

Supply gaps by can be filled in several ways. Use different pasture species and forage crops to provide out of season pasture growth. As an example, lucerne can fill a pasture supply gap over summer/autumn in areas that receive summer rainfall. Lucerne and other deep rooted, summer-active perennials such as chicory can also prevent potential dryland salinity problems and protect the soil.

Nitrogen fertiliser can be used to boost pasture growth in winter and spring and is often more cost effective than using supplements.

Growth promotants that contain gibberellic acid can be used to boost growth of pastures in winter when levels of this naturally occurring plant hormone are low. However, the additional growth in winter may be at the expense of spring growth.

Changes to grazing management can also increase pasture growth. Rotational grazing systems that allow higher pasture availability during autumn and winter can increase pasture growth rates by 10-20% compared to set stocked systems.

Supplementary feeds can also be used to fill feed gaps and harvesting hay or silage can also use some of the excess pasture available in spring. Ensure that the supplements that you intend to use are adequate for the class of stock being fed. The GrazFeed program or information available through the Lifetime Ewe Management course can assist in making better use of supplements.