If asked how much pasture is harvested (directly grazed by cows or cut with machinery) on your farm over a year, could you answer the question?
And if you could, what would it mean for your farm?
By estimating the amount of home grown feed harvested on your farm you’ll be able to benchmark your farm’s performance over time.
This will allow you to quantify the impacts of management practices and seasonal conditions on the amount of pasture harvested on-farm each year.
It can also help determine how much additional feed you may need to purchase. This is particularly valuable when developing budgets and planning for feed purchases.
A robust, scientifically sound tool for back-calculating pasture harvest (t DM/ha) is available online at
This tool is easy to use on your computer or mobile and has three versions of complexity designed to suit your needs.
The “Ask a question” is a three-step process designed to generate a quick estimation of annual pasture consumption:
1. Ask a question of the calculator, such as ‘How much home grown feed was eaten and conserved last year?’
2. Enter details about your farm milking area, herd, feed produced on the farm and ‘brought in’ feeds.
3. Allow the calculator to provide answers to the selected question based on entered details and industry averages.
Data can be saved by creating an account.
You can also elect to ‘upgrade’ to the intermediate version of the calculator which minimises duplication of data entry.
The more detailed versions of the calculator require additional information but can provide greater precision because calculations are based on farm data rather than industry averages.
The calculator delivers results on how much home grown pasture has been consumed, either by cows directly grazing or mechanically harvested, and how much energy this represents.
It can also answer questions like: “How much feed did my herd eat last year?” and “Based on last year's rainfall and irrigation, how much home grown feed did I use or conserve?”
The true value in this calculator is reflecting on the results over time.
You are then able to see how your production of home-grown feed changes from year to year, and how your herd’s feed requirements vary.
The Pasture Consumption Calculator is delivered through a partnership between Dairy Australia and DEDJTR.
For further information, visit http://dairypastureconsumptioncalculator.com.au/
By-Katrina Lawrence-Dairy extension officer