Farm roadways play a vital part in our grass-based dairy production model, and continue to be a worthwhile investment for farms.
The grazing season has ended for the year and farmers can now determine how successful the season has been.
2023 was a challenging year for dairy farmer, with weather conditions hampering grass throughout the year.
One way of keeping cows at grass and being allowing for flexibility, is having a good layout for farm roadways in place.
Most farms already have roadways in place, but additions or extensions to these roadways could significantly improve grazing during challenging weather conditions.
When laying out a roadway there are a number of factors that need to be considered.
For a herd with 150 cows or fewer, a roadway width of 4.5m is adequate, with an additional 0.5m for every extra 100 cows advised.
In some areas, like between paddocks that will only be used during adverse weather conditions, the width can be reduced.
While for high traffic areas, such as near the parlour, having a wider track is advised.
You want the roadway to be as short as possible, but you also want to have access to as many paddocks as possible and to avoid bottlenecks.
The surface is also an important consideration; a poor surface or one that is too hard can result in increased lameness cases.
Another thing to consider, is whether a suitably placed cow track can also be the ideal place to mobility score the herd as they go out, or in.
Doing this will give you an indication of the tracks performance, as well as the herd’s mobility.
Regular scoring can help to identify cows in the first stages of a lameness problem, and therefore results in early and effective intervention and treatment.
When it comes to a grass-based dairy system, flexibility is key, with good roadways on farm aiding this.
Having adequately designed roadways mean that during challenging conditions, cows can still access grass, even if just for a couple of hours.
On many farms a centre roadway is used to access the majority of paddocks, but by having roadways coming off this you can access different parts of the paddock.
This helps to prevent damage, and ensures that maximum graze out is achieved on farms.
Although investments made on many farms will be small this year, improving the grazing infrastructure is always worthwhile.
Adding or extending roadways in the right areas should result in grazing being easy during challenging conditions.
When making these investments, it is important to determine where you will achieve the maximum benefit from them.
Additions should be made in areas where the most paddocks can be accessed or where it is required the most.